Reviews of Shorts I by film critic Andrea Dittgen

SHADOWLAND

There is always a moment of enlightenment if a film starts with a journey from the dark into the light such as “Shadowlands”. The view out of the Tunnel is a strong beginning of this extraordinary journey through California. Landscape without men, just nature, photographed in black and white sharpens the eye of the viewer for details he usually doesn’t take notice of. A river from the front, the sea from above, the desert with its wide range, high cliffs – even the snow looks surprisingly different. The shot with the people in a bus is ruining the effect for quite a moment but not the great experience Swedish director John Skoog is giving us.

– Andrea Dittgen, critic, Germany, daily newspaper Die Rheinpfalz, magazine Filmdienst

Lama?

How do you tell a story about yourself without saying so? You create an alter ego. That’s what director Nadav Lapid did in “Lama?” when he invented an experienced director who was asked by famous French magazine “Les cahiers du cinéma” about the power of cinematography. He recalls an experience 20 years ago when he was a soldier in the army watching “Teorema” by Pasolini. The ending with the close-up of a man’s face with the eyes wide open, surprised and determined, is the picture the directors remembers. Putting the shadow of the soldier standing in front of the screen together with the man’s face creates a completely new version of the film and the triangle between film, life and the reflection of both.

– Andrea Dittgen, critic, Germany, daily newspaper Die Rheinpfalz, magazine Filmdienst

San Cristóbal

The small village of fishers in the south of Chili is still not ready for two men loving each other. The gay parts and the sad parts of this love story lay close together. While the love story starts quite shy and poetic the reaction of some men in the village is very strong: one of the two guys is beaten up so badly, he can’t go out any more. He decides to leave the village and his lover. Director Omar Zúñiga Hidalgo filmed a simple story in a old fashioned way bringing up all the emotions of a great love story without being corny or embarrassing. The men don’t speak a lot, you have to read their eyes. It’s not clear if it’s a coming of age story or if they know for quite some time that they are gay, and in fact, it doesn’t matter. In its best moments “San Cristóbal” reminds of the innocent love in Murnau’s “Tabu”.

– Andrea Dittgen, critic, Germany, daily newspaper Die Rheinpfalz, magazine Filmdienst

HOSANNA

In a dirty and abandoned district a young boy acts like Jesus bringing back dead people into life. Not like zombies like normal people. So the dead members of his family lying on the ground will be alive again some moments later. Barely alive they start fighting and killing each other. It’s a cruel story about living on the edge, eating dirty, using drugs, maybe an apocalyptic version of the life in the suburbs of South Korea as a symbol for people who are not capable to make something of their lives. It’s a sad fantasy in calm pictures and a subtle horror story.

– Andrea Dittgen, critic, Germany, daily newspaper Die Rheinpfalz, magazine Filmdienst

Chitrashala

A room in a tiny museum comes to live because the people in the pictures on the wall come to live. Not as silly as the wax figures in the Hollywood blockbuster series “Night at the Museum”. “Chitrashala” by Indian filmmaker Amit Dutta is a flow of movements. First you see an Oriental palace with a king, his family, servants and a beautiful woman, the king’s great love. Picture by picture you learn how the king lost his kingdom gambling, the king war banished, later rehabilitated when it’s obvious that he was tricked, so you can see a happy ending. The animation is so beautiful because there are only a few parts of the picture that moves: the curtain that hides what is behind the window suddenly opens and we see the king kissing his lover. A door opens and we see a people discussing. We see someone painting, the rain clouds in the picture start moving, you hear the thunder, every minute provides you with a new surprise, beautifully crafted that you are driven into a story with no escape. It’s a fairy tale which encourages to look closely at pictures in museums and makes you think what may lie behind the pictures, A serious candidate not only for the Golden Bear but for the Oscar.

– Andrea Dittgen, critic, Germany, daily newspaper Die Rheinpfalz, magazine Filmdienst

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Thank you to Andrea Dittgen for providing us with her reviews!

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