Dispatches from Clermont-Ferrand: Opening

· sunrise

This week is the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Fiestival in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Sunrise Tippeconnie is there devoring as many films as he can and sharing them with us here. Check back for more throughout the week.
The 23rd Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival opened with some amazing works that represented various aspects of the programming and displayed a talent for the eclectic and historically overlooked. The very first work, This is New Zealand by Hugh MacDonald for the New Zealand National Film Unit represented a retrospective of New Zealand through incredible photography that crossed a tri-sected screen reminiscent of and rivaling Fleisher’s The Boston Strangler. Incredible juxtapositions occurred as a result of photographic/montage kinetics, but also through amazing contrasts of truths and stereotypes of the country; particularly strong in the tongue-in-cheek moments of grazing sheep and the rural farmers. An amazing find that conveys New Zealand’s strengths in its traditions of documentary, despite its recent need to depart from it in the strong narrative works of Taika Waititi and Mark Albiston, who are both represented by other shorts in this section of the fest.

New Yorker Keith Bearden presented a short from his realm as Lab Competition selector, Raymond by Bif which combines the mixture of digi-alchemy and comedy when a test subject is given a test liquid that makes him float, bounce and contort in various manners, as if a resolve to circumvent any personal intention of his own. The hilarious nature of the physical comedy should not diffuse the experimental nature of the film’s plastics that collapse the bridge between the more antiquated forms of analog and the overly-pixeliated nature of contemporary formats. Thus, it is an allegory to contemporary technology and medical research that overlooks the humanity of its subjects.

Also included in the presentation were two retrospective animation works, “Ego Zhena Kouritsa” from jurist Igor Kovalyov (creator of Rugrats and Duckman) which displays his more avant-garde approach, and the infamous Tex Avery short Red Hot Riding Hood. Both instilled a general excitment, not just because of their rare celluloid presentation, but their intelligent use and approach towards animation’s malleability as a means to demonstrate the physical world’s melding with the emotional and emotionally abstract.

Two other shorts that were more playful in their experimental nature were Comme Un Drapeau Dechu, in which director Samuel Domingo Cervera plays with hesitant homage to the great Jean-Luc Godard where the landscape of Paris cannot escape the need for New Wave capture and definitions, so much so that the filmmaker’s voice over questions the legitimacy of his intentions as well as the outcome’s similarity to refuse through repetition. Davd Russo, on the other hand, uplifts this psuedo-doc genre when he depicts his own journey through depcting his own defense against funders in voice over as we view a more poetic rendering of investor money spent — the capture of crowds in an arts festival to convey the collective nature of the medium as time lapse merges crowds en-masse with hand-drawn animation where they two cannot exist in this film, nor festival, without each other. The hesitancy of the investors, in voice over, do not triumph over the filmmaker’s convincing defense of the collective aesthetics, despite the truth in his title I Am (Not) Van Gogh.

The evening ended with a film/remix of Disney’s Snow White by DJ/filmmaker Pogo, which further illustrates the accepting nature of the festival, despite other world-wide hesitancies toward the digital, the internet and the continued compression of governmental nuturing of the medium.