Interview: Director Jamie Meltzer on „Huntsville Station“ and the short form

Born in Washington D.C., USA in 1973, Jamie Meltzer graduated from the San Francisco State University’s cinema programme with a master’s in 2002. He teaches and is the programme director of the MFA programme in documentary film at Stanford University.

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Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

The film began as an idea after reading an article about this bus station in Huntsville, Texas where the majority of Texas inmates ride the bus home after leaving prison. In passing, I mentioned to my co-director Jamie Meltzer about this place and he said he had the same idea after filming at the prison in his feature documentary True Conviction. From there, we decided on a whim to take a risk and go to the location to try and see if we could make a film documenting the first experiences out of released parolees. We basically just trusted our intuition that a film would arise, and it fortunately did.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

For myself, I really respond to the moment where the first bus leaves and the scene outside the bus station gets quieter and more reflective. The shift in tone allows the audience to reflect with the subjects on-screen, offering a window into the heaviness of experience they quietly feel. I have never been able to achieve such a dramatic stylistic shift mid-film, but this moment somehow works, and it shows how the excitement at being free becomes fraught with so much weight and confusion for the men who are released. Freedom is complicated.

What do you like about the short form?

The short form offers the ability for experimentation that you might not otherwise be able to sustain over the length of a feature film. It can also offer articulation to a small experience that might otherwise seem fleeting, but is packed with so much feeling and emotion. In this way, short films have an expressive power that can’t be replicated over the length of time of a feature length work.

Interview: Director Rand Abou Fakhern on „So We Live“ on the short film

Born in Syria in 1995, Rand Abou Fakhern has lived in Brussels since 2015. In Syria, she studied as a flautist at the Conservatory but she went on to discover Brussels through the lens of her camera. Her first short film Braided Love was mentored by the Hungarian film director Béla Tarr and premiered at the 2018 Sarajevo Film Festival. Keen to explore different artistic disciplines, she is currently performing in the theatre piece “Bruegel” by Lisaboa Houbrechts.

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Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

The starting point of the film came from the question: what if this moment I am living in is the last!? How many things I kept hanging thinking that time will solve it!? And how many people I haven’t told that I love them yet!? And others that I haven’t said sorry to!?

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

There is no one exact moment that I live in the film for me everything together makes the whole picture and no one moment is more important than the other cause it is about a piece of time where every moment is important.

What do you like about the short form?

I love about the short form how specific you can be about one subject or one vision and how you can zoom in to put this idea in a frame.

Interview: Director Charlotte Mars on „Girl And Body“ and the short form

Born in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, Australia in 1988, filmmaker Charlotte Mars studied Media Arts at the University of Technology Sydney and took her first steps in the film world as a protegé of director Cate Shortland (Black WidowBerlin SyndromeLore). Her films focus especially on queer identity and the lives of women. After making her debut short film Awake, and two documentaries in collaboration with the director Maya Newell, she produced Amos Gebhardt’s video installation “Evanescence” in 2017. A guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, she currently lives in Sydney and Berlin.

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Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

A few years ago I found myself navigating the medical world with an undiagnosed chronic illness, and thinking a lot about the weirdness of hospitals, and how lonely they can be. I was in this headspace when I got an image stuck in my head – of a woman suddenly collapsing on the ground. Pretty much every woman I know has a story to tell about their relationship with their body, and I’m interested in the big and small ways women survive our society, so I was very compelled by the image. I got thinking about how simply taking up space the world brings unseen tensions and pressure upon the body, and wanted to look at the imprint of that on a person. All these ideas coalesced and I began writing the film. Luckily, producer Ella Millard liked what I was writing and we agreed to work on it together!

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

It’s hard to pick a favourite… But one moment that holds a lot of meaning for me is when Yuri (played by Nancy Denis) is in hospital and looks in on a group of patients doing physical therapy. It’s quite powerful because Yuri is struggling to connect with her body at this time. When one of the patients (played by Kate Gill) looks up and returns her gaze, the two women have this beautiful, momentary, silent exchange – of curiosity, fear and loneliness, but also familiarity and recognition. I tried with the film to often sit in the power of a look without words, and this was one of those times. For me, the moment is especially powerful because Kate has the same condition in real life as Yuri; their stories are connected in the film world and the real world. Kate has been part of the film the whole way through and runs an organisation that raises awareness and supports people living with Functional Neurological Disorder (https://fndaus.org.au/) – it’s vital and important work.

What do you like about the short form?

Shorts are freedom. There’s no rules or expectations that a longer form might dictate. So in their shortness, you actually find space for bigger conceptual ideas and more surprising provocations. As a filmmaker this freedom is a real delight. But I also like the practical restrictions of the form. With less screen time, smaller crews and smaller budgets, shorts force you to think really creatively about how to realise a story or idea; there’s an intense closeness to the whole process, and I think the most innovative and unique works come from that.

Interview: Director Adam Meeks on „Union County“ and the short form

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Copyright: Russell Peborde (JBFC)

What was your starting point for this film?

I was visiting my family in Ohio in 2017, and my uncle gave me a book called “Dreamland” by Sam Quinones. It’s a pretty remarkable piece of journalism charting the history of the opioid crisis in America, and it focuses a lot on central and southern Ohio where both sides of my family are from. I had been feeling a strong desire to put my home state of Ohio on screen — both its physical and socioeconomic landscapes —and I became really interested in the subjective experience of a young man around my age wrestling with this particular sort of addiction and recovery. So I began meeting different people in Union County who are associated with the issue —  active users, people in recovery, parents who had lost children to overdoses, drug task force officers, lawyers, support groups, etc. I asked each person I met with if they could identify an aspect of their experience that they felt was ignored or underrepresented by the media, and I was surprised to find there was a nearly unanimous response: recovery. I realized there was a counter-mythology right in front of me — that despite the overdose statistics and stigmas dominating today’s headlines, people were and are getting better, and I felt that there was great power in illuminating that narrative. Right around this time, I began sitting in on drug court recovery meetings, and met a young man my age who told me he was living in his car just outside town, and that the hardest part of his recovery journey was having to say goodbye to his ex-girlfriend. His story resonated with me, and I started writing from that place.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

My favorite moment is the drug court scene. A primary intention of mine in making the film was to capture the feeling of that specific drug court in Bellefontaine, Ohio — a place I’d spent significant time during my research and become quite fond of. In order to do so, we integrated our lead actor into an active drug court meeting and threw out the script, and let the local Judge (whose voice you hear offscreen) lead the meeting the way he always does. The other folks speaking in the scene were also members of the drug court at the time. It still moves me so much to see them sharing their stories openly and supporting each other. I think the compassion in that room comes through.

What do you like about the short form?

I think it’s something to do with economy and distillation. The opportunity to distill something into a handful of images while retaining (or maximizing) its power — it’s so difficult, but it gives me so much satisfaction when I feel like I get within at least an approximation of my emotional target.

Interview: Director Anton Bialas on „À l’entrée de la nuit“ and the short form

Anton Bialas was born in Paris, France in 1990 to a Swedish mother and a German father. He studied film at the Sorbonne in Paris and directed the mid-length film Derrière nos yeux in 2018.

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Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

The original starting point of À L’ENTRÉE DE LA NUIT was meeting Alioune Fall, the young man who tells the dream in the first part of the film. He had come to France at a young age, with his mother. I met him on the street in Paris and we started to meet frequently to talk about our lives, and then more specifically about dreams and the interpretations they had in his native country Senegal and sub-saharan Africa, and how they resonated for him regarding questions of exil, distance, and loss.

The second encounter that launched the writing of the film was witnessing the Guardia Civil patrols along the Spanish coast. They appeared to me as hearses drifting slowly through the forest, followed by an invisible procession of disappeared men and women.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

I’m not sure. But I know I have a special affection for the first part where the two men walk in the dark forest, because it was very hard to shoot! We had to reshoot the whole scene because the rushes were damaged the first time. We had very little equipment and walked backwards for very long takes of eleven minutes through a difficult terrain, trying to film on the very tiny screen of the Gopro camera… Everybody involved gave very much to that part of the film.

What do you like about the short form?

When I come up with an idea, I’m very impatient to shoot and also I tend to doubt myself very quickly so I need to get to the fabrication of images as fast as possible to keep the desire burning. The short form allows me to shoot with very little money and not be exclusively dependent on public fundings nor write sophisticated scripts to convince people before shooting.

Short form also has the beauty of being more immediate in its sensations, it feels like the dawn of something that reminds me of childhood. An art form that is dangerous, fragile and uncompromising.

Interview: Director Laurynas Bareisa on „Atkūrimas“ and the short form

Born in Lithuania in 1988, Laurynas Bareisa studied applied mathematics and cinematography before completing a master’s in film directing in 2016. He recently worked as cinematographer on the feature film Summer Survivors by Marija Kavtaradze, as well as directing the short films By the Pool, which screened at Venice, and Caucasus, which was presented at Locarno. He is currently developing his debut feature film, Pilgrims, at the Torino FeatureLab.

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Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

The story of this film was originally a scene in a longer script, but ultimately it did not fit there, so I expanded it into a separate short film.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

My favorite moment is when the criminal rolls the doll down the hill and one of the police officers helps him. It is a bit hidden in the background and not obvious, but very funny. Also it is a hint towards what is coming in the end.

What do you like about the short form?

I love that you can fit a short film in your head whole while you’re preparing. Which seems impossible with a feature for me. Although I’m not sure if this is the case for everyone, maybe its just my head capacity.

Interview: Director Beny Wagner on „A Demonstration“ and the short form

Born in Berlin, Germany in 1985, Beny Wagner works as an artist, filmmaker and writer. His work has been presented at a number of international festivals, exhibitions and conferences, including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Eye Film Museum in Amsterdam, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin and the Moscow International Biennale for Young Art. He is currently a PhD candidate at the Archaeologies of Media and Technology Research Group at Winchester School of Art, Southampton University and is a lecturer at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam.

Sasha Litvintseva who also directed A Demonstration was born in Murmansk, Russia in 1989. Her work as an artist, filmmaker and researcher has been presented at numerous film festivals and in solo and group exhibitions around the world. Her film Asbestos screened in the 2017 Forum. She holds a PhD in media, communications and cultural studies from Goldsmiths, University of London, and lectures in film theory and practice at Queen Mary University of London.

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Sasha Litvintseva (left) and Beny Wagner (right), Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

One of the first sparks for the film came on a trip to the Gemäldegalerie in Berlin. We were looking at paintings from the Renaissance and early modern period and started talking about how the paintings depicted nature. We had the sense that people lived in terrible fear of their surroundings. We decided we wanted to make something that described that fear of the unknown in the concept of nature. Shortly after that trip to the museum we found out about the existence of taxonomies of monsters at the heart of early modern European science. Once we started learning more about the context we understood monsters less as distinct things and more as manifestations of a way of organizing nature. We wanted to contemplate the dynamics of that system of organization through the film. This was a system in which truths about the natural world were determined on the basis of visual analogy, something that film has a very interesting relationship with. The word monster comes from the Latin ‘monstrare’ which means to reveal, show, demonstrate (hence our title, A Demonstration). Monsters were initially considered to be omens through which god sent people signs on how to act. In this sense, the monstrous is in many ways about seeing and about the terms according to which we see. Rather than describe this theme from a historical distance, we wanted to try to access a different way of viewing and comprehending the world, one in which monsters are not only real but are an active part of scientific inquiry, where the composition of organic matter is still completely unknown and where natural elements present an existential threat.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

It’s hard to pick a favorite. The film is kind of built as an arrangement of moments so each section has its own life. That said, maybe we would choose the section that is simply one long shot (the longest in the film at about 3 minutes) of a cloud, slightly sped up to emphasize movement, with an intense atmospheric sound composition. Most of the film is pretty fast paced and there are hundreds of cuts in it. This shot comes around two thirds into the film and does two different things. On the one hand it provides a breath of air, a calmer moment to contemplate what’s been happening, and on the other hand somehow in its emptiness it manages to be saturated with emotion and meaning. One of the things we were so interested in and were trying to capture, was the ways in which early European science arranged its knowledge of the world through visual analogy. For 16th century naturalists, the human body was compared to a tree trunk and the skin to the bark. From today’s perspective it’s easy to ridicule this way of finding truth or view it as naive. But outside of current scientific disciplines, this desire to connect the world through visual association is somehow intrinsic to the way the human mind works. For us, the simplicity of the cloud changing shape and our compulsion to find recognizable shapes in it creates this primal connection between different ways of perceiving the world.

What do you like about the short form?

The more we learn about film and film history the more we understand moving image as an extension of the nervous system. Because the medium is so deeply interwoven with our bodies, the formal tools and conventions aren’t arbitrary, they have literally grown out of our bodies over time. Certain narrative conventions are the product of industries or propaganda, like the classic three act structure, but many conventions emerged because of what the body can or can’t handle. In the short form it’s possible to play with those conventions and potentially reinterpret them or expand them more than in any other form because of the physiological limits involved in longer films or other formats.

Interview: Director Keisha Rae Witherspoon on „T“ and the short form

Born in Miami, USA in 1980, the Jamaican-American filmmaker Keisha Rae Witherspoon has a BA in creative writing with a minor in African American studies. Her work, which is driven by interests in science, speculative fiction and fantasy, documents the unseen and unheralded nuances of diasporic peoples. She is creative director of Third Horizon, a Caribbean creative collective based in Miami which holds the annual Third Horizon Film Festival.

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Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

I remember quite lucidly the moment I came up with the concept for T. I was in conversation with a friend about the ways in which displaced people, particularly African Americans, have had to piece together ritual from the remains. There was and is so much cultural loss, both forced and withered by time, during the bondage of black folks. And with the hyper-violence that plagues underserved cities across the States, I found that applies very much so to ritual around death.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

I’m a science fiction and fantasy Poindexter, so I’ll always relish in the paranormal and otherworldly. So the ending for me is always a highlight. I still hold my breath a bit at times. I suppose I designed the ending as closely to what I want to feel, and what I want repressed folks to feel, in real life. So it serves as a cosmic journey for me each time I watch it.

What do you like about the short form?

Whereas long form film is most often used to deliver big ideas and complete thoughts, short form, while capable of doing the same, is in my view an incredibly effective means of asking questions. It’s life in bite-size, and can swallow you up and spit you out in a matter of minutes. When done right, short form work can be any combination of exhilarating, reflective and profound.

Interview: Director Marianne Métivier on „Celle qui porte la pluie“ and the short form

Born in Montreal, Canada in 1993, Marianne Métivier studied at the Université du Québec in the city. Inspired by her travels around the world, she explores pivotal moments in life with poetry and the method of alienation. Celle qui porte la pluie is her first short film since graduating.

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Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

The first flash of the film appeared to me in India. I was travelling during the monsoon season. There was something about the rain there: its omnipresence and its amplitude. I remember the rumbling water hitting on steel roofs, the luscious green everywhere and the dampness of my clothes – it created a melancholic and beautiful mood. I was writing down simple scenes such as „a woman is hand-washing clothes outside“. The idea to bring in my personal life and the relation to my father’s death came later in the writing process.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

Honestly, it is hard for me to see this film as a defined object – to disconnect the scenes from the process; from how things fell into place technically and emotionally speaking. That being said, I enjoy the few moments where there are little secret jokes specifically addressed to my dad, it still makes me smile.

What do you like about the short form?

It’s challenging! There are many things I want to put in my films and the short form doesn’t always allow it. I like to take my time to install a specific mood and it’s not always easy to find the balance between the different elements within a contemplative pace. My editor Amélie Hardy and I had to shuffle the scenes in many different ways to find the harmony between the shots. We ended up cutting a lot of material, even characters. But in the end the important thing is to frame the essence. And I believe we managed to do so.

 

Interview: Director Rafael Manuel on „Filipiñana“ and the short form

Rafael Manuel was born in Manila, the Philippines in 1990. He is a director, screenwriter, producer and editor. He studied philosophy and visual communication at the Ateneo de Manila University before taking up a master in filmmaking at the London Film School. He has also worked in advertising as a copywriter for Saatchi & Saatchi and as a creative director at TBWA.

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Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

I’ve always viewed golf as a game of inaction – where the winner is the person who has taken the least amount of strokes. This inaction is heightened even more in South-East Asia, where you are driven around the course in golf carts, where caddies carry your bags and hand you your clubs, and tee-girls tee-up your golf balls in the driving range.

Filipiñana is an exploration of inaction and the role that inaction plays in the perpetuation of objective violence; a structural violence without any clear perpetrator or victim, a violence devoid of any obviously violent act, a violence that has been normalised and gentrified.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

One of my favourite moments of the film is the tableau with the child-golfer and his mother – played by my sister and her son. This particular moment is dear to me because of the candidness of my nephew’s action – I knew that I wouldn’t really be able to direct him, as his autonomy is indomitable (as you can see from his resistance to his mother’s instructions), but I also knew that there would be no need to direct him as any action he’d produce would be honest and authentic. Capturing this moment then became an exercise of an entire film set reacting to and respecting the incorruptible autonomy of a 4-year-old child and just hoping that he would stay within the frame.

What do you like about the short form?

I think because the industry hasn’t found a way to commercially exploit the short form for huge profit yet, it remains a form wherein filmmakers still have substantial autonomy and this is of the utmost importance to me. So while currently developing the feature-length version of Filipiñana, I’m also developing several shorts set in the Philippines and the UK (where I am now based). It’s important to me that I continue developing shorts in parallel with my long-form projects so that I remain informed by my own autonomy before any external pressures from market forces.

Interview: Director Sasha Svirsky on „My Galactic Twin Galaction“ and the short form

Russian filmmaker Sasha Svirsky was born in 1980 and graduated from the Grekov Art College in Rostov-on-Don with a diploma in painting. He is a self-taught animator and, since 2008, has worked as an independent animation director creating over 30 animation films. He has developed his own artistic language by mixing media, using a method of improvisation and challenging stereotypes. He lives in Moscow and, since 2013, has collaborated with his partner and wife, Nadezhda Svirskaia.

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Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

The story started in 2016 when I create my 2017 calendar. The calendar consisted of posters for inexistent films and one of the films was My Galactic Tween Galaction. Two years later I came up with an idea to make a film with this title and I started a making process during which I decided not to make a film but to make a making of the film that I had decided not to do.

Do you have a favorite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

If I have to choose only one moment I would pick the finale titles. When the production process of the film had already been done, I was unsatisfied about the final titles but decided to leave it as it was for a while and to come back to the problem later. Finally, I made it after three months or so but due to the delay, this moment became more memorable for me.

What do you like about the short form?

Probably, the main reason why short forms seem appealing to me is the feeling of freedom they give. I don’t feel a burden of responsibility when I am making a short film. I just have fun.

Interview: Director Jyoti Mistry on „Cause of Death“ and the short form

Born in Durban, South Africa in 1970, Jyoti Mistry works with film as an interplay between cinematic traditions and installation art. Her films have screened at festivals including Toronto, Winterthur, Rotterdam and Durban and in exhibitions at Kunsthaus Zürich, Museum der Moderne Salzburg and Kunsthalle Wien. She has been artist in residence at the Netherlands Film Academy in Amsterdam and the California College of the Arts in San Francisco and was a member of the International Short Film Jury at the 68th Berlinale. She is currently professor for film at the University of Gothenburg.

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Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

Looking at the way in which images of women were marginalised historically in the archive or how they were depicted. I wanted to work through the very small moments or fragments across different titles that captured various facets and experiences of women – working with the material even in these tiny nuggets, finding the patterns across historical, geographic and cultural contexts was an exciting inception of the project.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

The film is comprised of mini-vignettes across five sections and each has its own rhythm, tempo and emotive charge that creates distinctive moments in a short space of time in the film. The woman with a curious and peering-look on her face at the end of the film is one I find haunting. She is an every-woman in a way and yet she is distinctive and her stare straight into the camera is arresting because she demands to be seen.

What do you like about the short form?

The short form requires focus but is freeing – fierce in the best sense of allowing uncompromised boldness and of course for the cynical, it is about finance.

Interview: Director Gabriele Stötzer on „Veitstanz/Feixtanz“ and the short form

Born in Emleben, East Germany in 1953, Gabriele Stötzer studied at the teacher training college in Erfurt where, in the mid-1970s, she was expelled on political grounds and imprisoned for a year. She began working as a freelance artist in 1980. In 1989, she was co-initiator of the first occupation of a Stasi (East German secret police) headquarters in Erfurt. Since 1990, she has published eight books and taken part in international exhibitions. She also teaches performance classes at the University of Erfurt and holds lectures on subjects such as feminist art and on being a contemporary witness.

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Copyright: Ralf Gerlach

What was the starting point for your film?

The starting point for Veitstanz/Feixtanz was the summer of 1986 in Erfurt. You couldn’t leave the country because of the border wall so I wanted to open up another space. I’d heard that people came together here in the Middle Ages and danced themselves into ecstasy in public places. I found that interesting and so I asked friends to dance themselves into ecstasy in places that were important to them. At the same time, I wanted to go back even further in time to the story of the Egyptian goddess Isis who was searching for the dismembered pieces of her beloved Osiris on earth. As long as she did that, all growth stood still and everything was in darkness. But then the older goddess Baubo confronted her standing in a fountain, lifted up her skirt and performed a belly dance. This made Isis laugh, the sun came back out and life could continue. Isis found the pieces of her lover, stuck them back together and had her son Horus with him.

In this way I was able to bring everything together: doing something in public with my friends which brought us closer to the secrets of the past, and dancing and laughing against stasis and darkness.

Do you have a favorite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

The variations on Baubo’s belly dance. One time with a pregnant woman who has a visible baby-bump, then with the belly of a friend who had already had four children and can make her belly have dimples and laugh. And I’m also laughing at the flat stomach mania of a society that wants to separate us from our bodies and thus from our wealth of experiences.

What do you particularly like about the short form?

It is a Super 8 film that doesn’t have or need any words. It is the visual language that I put together like a composition until it has unconsciously communicated itself.

Interview: Directors Robin Klengel and Michael Stumpf on „How to Disappear“ and the short form

Robin Klengel is an artist, illustrator and cultural anthropologist has been vice chairman of Forum Stadtpark, an interdisciplinary art and culture space in Graz, Austria since 2017. His work has won prizes including the Vimeo Staff Pick Award, the award for Best Austrian Film at Vienna Shorts, the Audience Award at the Short Wave Festival in Poznan and the Explorer Award at A Maze Berlin.

Michel Stumpf was born in Wels, Austria in 1985. Having studied philosophy at the University of Vienna, he is currently taking a degree in Media Art and Culture Theories at the University of Art and Design in Linz. He works as a cultural theorist, artist and designer.

Leonhard Müllner is the third director of „How to Disappear“. The visual artist and media researcher studied visual art and media art and is currently writing his PhD on a cultural studies topic. His work has received several prizes including the Vimeo Staff Pick Award, the Best Austrian Film Award at Vienna Shorts as well as awards at the Short Waves Festival in Poznan and at A Maze Berlin.

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Left: Robin Klengel, right: Michael Stumpf  (Leonhard Müllner was absent at the time of the shooting), Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was the starting point for your film?

The starting point for our work is our fascination with the medium of computer games. To be more precise, it’s a love-hate relationship. Because on the one hand, it’s a medium that offers an incredible number of possibilities and creates important social spaces, especially for young people. On the other, mainstream games in particular are pervaded by a capitalist logic and their potential remains unexploited. We enjoy working in a playful way with the artefacts and landscapes that games produce. In our work, we break the implicit rules of these spaces and give the games alternative narratives – as in How to Disappear, which is dedicated to the history of deserters. We call this “narrative upcycling”.

In addition, the history of deserters is incredibly relevant but it only rarely appears in history books. Running away and military disobedience have been around for as long as war itself and yet, although we know a lot about the people who wage war, we know very little about those who refused to kill. Whoever wants to fight a war must convince people to commit their lives – and must prevent them from taking off at the first opportunity. Thus, deserters have always influenced the way war is waged and also how society develops.

Likewise, in video games the character of the deserter remains largely obscure, although there are many games in which you take on the role of a soldier. The bulk of large video game companies prefer to stick to tried and tested concepts and tell “non-political” stories, or so they claim.

The demand for a separation of playing and politics expressed by developer heavyweights like Epic, Ubisoft and Blizzard reveals the schizophrenic attitude of the scene. It is based on the misapprehension that the status quo is always apolitical and that only rebelling against it is a political act. Each reactionary agenda of the developers in their narration of the playing world thus remains supposedly apolitical. This is why we don’t interfere in these games with programming interventions but, instead, use rule violations. These suddenly make the ideological visible as if it were magical ink. We are a pseudo-Marxist communication guerrilla!

In our work, we’re also addressing our original natural habit, the art world, by proposing a narrative turn. This opposes the current tendencies towards formalistic and self-referential tedium in the visual arts. We’re trying to combine aesthetic questions with a conceptual imperative that, if possible, is presented in a humorous language.

Do you have a favourite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

We value the appropriation of the video game medium, but even more, the direct interaction with the gaming community – that is, with the gamers themselves. In our anti-war film, How to Disappear, our central interest is in disrupting the events of war and exploring the possibilities of military disobedience. It gives us an immense, childlike pleasure to keep the players from fighting. So during filming, we had the most fun in the scenes where we pestered the other gamers – harassing them in a joyful and playful way – and throwing ourselves, for example, in front of the snipers’ rifle scopes.

What do you like about the short form?

Short films are less work.

Interview: Director Omar Elhamy on „Écume“ and the short form

Born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1983, Omar Elhamy grew up there before moving to Montreal in Canada and studying film. He currently works as a director and editor.

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Copyright: Dorothea Tuch

What was your starting point for this film?

It is often hard to find in my mind the genesis of works, a lot which is drawn from personal concerns, or ideas. I remember for instance playing football with some of the characters currently starring in the film back in 2012 and wanting to eventually work with them. I remember one, who worked at a carwash downtown Montreal,  who refused to be in the film. He mentioned that he disliked films that simulated reality. I did not understand clearly what he meant, but I remember being moved by that. To keep it short: I was compelled to create something subtle in its content while touching on different realities and experiences that individuals could face in an ever-changing environment. I wrote a first draft that was passed on to the co-scenarists Paul Chotel and Jonathan Beaulieu Cyr who crystallized the ideas into a coherent narrative in the end.

Do you have a favorite moment in the film? Which one and why this one?

I personally enjoy one of the protagonist’s arrival into the scene/film. It does not follow a realistic logic, although he uses a car door to enter the scene/film flat on his stomach, physically fragile yet empowered by his gaze.

What do you like about the short form?

What I like more than the short form is that their is an outlet for it. I think that self-expression could exist in  long films, short films, still images, sound, sculpture, painting, etc…

The fact that one could address more urgent concerns without having to think of distribution and the bigger cinematic machine is a relief. The idea that I could try things and fail without having to worry too much about it and still have audience is exciting to me.