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Cannes’ Short Film Corner is poised to kick off


- CANNES 2021: As the Short Film Corner gets ready to unspool from 12 July onwards, Cineuropa looks at some of the fare on offer in the Official Short Film Competition

Cannes’ Short Film Corner is poised to kick off
Displaced by Samir Karahoda

While the selection of ten films that will be vying for the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2021 are an eclectic and diverse bunch (see the news), there are certain traits that are shared amongst them. Many have an undercurrent of surrealism, playing with cinematic conventions. A good number of them explore the innocence of youth and the difficulty of holding onto said innocence. All are indicative of bright talents whose feature films may well grace the Croisette in future years.

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One of the most highly anticipated films is Displaced by Samir Karahoda, whose previous effort, Në Mes (In Between), was a huge hit on the festival circuit and garnered an EFA nomination. The film follows two table-tennis players in Kosovo who try all they can to keep opportunities for the sport going despite the seeming indifference of much of society. It’s a beautifully understated affair which blends a sense of melancholia with a gentle humour, as Karahoda uses the film to speak of the experience of emigration and returning to a home that is both familiar and alien.

Also understated is Through the Haze by Portuguese director Diogo Salgado. Here, the helmer eschews dialogue as two young boys play in the middle of the forest, with their antics seemingly taking a darker turn. This is a mesmerising and poetic work in which Salgado creates a dreamlike atmosphere as he explores the darker moments of childhood and the moments in which innocence begins to chip away. Another dark and surreal exploration of childhood, and letting go, is found in In the Soil by Danish director Casper Kjeldsen. Kjeld starts digging a pit in the garden, much to the distress of his daughter, Karoline. Soon, his obsession turns nightmarish as the land threatens to pull in Kjeld ever deeper and the film heads towards a grim conclusion. There’s an air of David Lynch here, with the dull domestication of everyday life scratched away to find despair and darkness. Kjeldsen excels in creating an uneasy atmosphere as he questions notions of heritage and the sometimes crushing weight of family expectation.

There are more straightforward explorations of childhood in The Right Words by Adrian Moyse Dullin and North Pole by Marija Apcevska, both of which deal with the first blossoming of both love and sex. The former sees brother Mahdi and sister Kenza travel on the bus home from school. Kenza goads her brother into professing his feelings for a mysterious girl. Things come to a head with a bittersweet ending that’s a wonderful portrayal of modern teenage life. The latter homes in on a young girl, Margo, who feels that if she loses her virginity, she will find her place in the complex social hierarchy of her school. With a great central performance, the film contains some neat subversion of typical genre conventions and manages to avoid clichés while telling an age-old story.

Also on offer is the Brazilian-French co-production Sidéral by Carlos Segundo, about a couple living close to the site of the first Brazilian space launch. While they are seemingly comfortable in their dull domesticity, one person has other plans for their life. This is a drily funny and satirical piece of work about the desire to escape from the everyday. The Brazilian-Icelandic co-production August Sky by Jasmin Tenucci is a powerful drama focusing on faith in the most trying of circumstances.

The jury will award one prize to the winning short in the Official Selection, as well as three prizes to some of the 17 films that make up the Cinéfondation film school selection (see the news). The jury consists of Tuva Novotny (Sweden), Kaouther Ben Hania (Tunisia), Alice Winocour (France), Nicolas Pariser (France), Sameh Alaa (Egypt) and Carlos Muguiro (Spain).

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