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New talents and old hands at Pardi di domani 2021


- With Locarno about to kick off, Cineuropa samples a small batch of the European shorts on offer in the 2021 Pardi di domani selection

New talents and old hands at Pardi di domani 2021
The Sunset Special by Nicolas Gebbe

Pardi di domani, the short and medium-length film section of the Locarno Film Festival, has always been a fulsome and diverse affair which, in the festival’s own words, is “a territory for expressive experimentation and innovative formal poetry”. As in previous years, there will be both an International Competition and a Swiss Competition, but 2021 will also see the introduction of Concorso Corti d'autore,  a selection of short works by established directors.

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The International Competition is typified by some experimental fare. This includes FIRST TIME [The Time for All but Sunset - VIOLET] (Nicolaas Schmidt, Germany), which begins with the 1980s Coca-Cola advert accompanied by Robin Beck’s song ‘First Time’. We soon segue into a train journey in which the camera stays on two passengers for almost all of the film’s 50-minute running time. No words are exchanged as the protagonists look across from each other, and only music can be heard as we observe their glances and the view outside the window. What at first seems like an exercise into audience baiting soon morphs into a genuine and moving exploration of the transformative power of music and memory as well as the subtlety of everyday human interaction.

More satirical is The Sunset Special (Nicolas Gebbe, Germany) in which two protagonists – voiced with the drone of computer synthesised speech – explore the perfect life. An animation consisting of glitched out computer code, the film works as a chilling satire on the emptiness of middle class aspiration and the vacuous nature of much of modern life.

There’s more traditional animation in Špela ČadežSteakhouse (Slovenia/Germany/France) in which a bitter argument over a burnt steak takes an extremely dark turn. While the ending of the film will linger in the mind, the film as a whole is a clever take on how the hidden anger that stays buried within many relationships is always ready to explode.

Diana Cam Van Nguyen utilises animation in her documentary Love, Dad (Czech Republic/Slovakia) as she pores over letters written by her father 15 years prior. With a cut-out and staccato approach, the film deals with fragmentary memory and the pain of facing the truths of the past.

Another documentary about dealing with the past is In Flow of Words (Eliane Esther Bots, Netherlands) as three interpreters of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia tell their stories. With an aesthetic distancing, the film reflects the experience of its protagonists whose job it is to remain stoic when faced with stories of unimaginable horror.  It results in a superlative and moving affair which deals with both individual and collective trauma.

In the Concorso Corti d'autore section, the films include a new short from this year’s Golden Bear winning director Radu Jude: Caricaturana (Romania) examines a series of popular 19th century lithographs about an unscrupulous swindler and – with an understated satire that is typical of Jude’s work – looks at it through the lens of the modern day. Knife + Heart [+see also:
film review
interview: Nicolas Maury
interview: Yann Gonzalez
film profile
director Yann Gonzalez brings a typically sexually charged affair, drenched in neon and synth, with Fou de Bassan while Patrick Bresnan and Ivete Lucas – whose previous short film Skip Day was a huge success on the festival circuit – return with Happiness Is a Journey (USA, Estonia), an affecting documentary about workers preparing newspapers for delivery on the night before Christmas that speaks of human endeavour in the face of a sometimes uncaring world.

The full programme of the different Pardi di domani sections is below:

Pardi di domani - Concorso internazionale

The Infernal Machine (A Máquina Infernal) - Francis Vogner Dos Reis (Brazil)
And Then They Burn the Sea - Majid Al-Remaihi (Qatar)
Suncatcher (Atrapaluz) - Kim Torres (Costa Rica/Mexico)
Christmas (Dōng dōng de shèng dàn jié) - Fengrui Zhang (China/USA)
Neon Phantom (Fantasma Neon) - Leonardo Martinelli (Brazil)
FIRST TIME [The Time for All but Sunset - VIOLET] - Nicolaas Schmidt (Germany)
Playtime (Giochi) - Simone Bozzelli (Italy)
Home (Imuhira) - Myriam Uwiragiye Birara (Rwanda)
In Flow of Words - Eliane Esther Bots (Netherlands)
Night (Layl) - Ahmad Saleh (Germany/Qatar/Jordan/Palestine)
The Demons of Dorothy (Les Démons de Dorothy) - Alexis Langlois (France)
Love, Dad - Diana Cam Van Nguyen (Czech Republic/Slovakia)
Mask - Nava Rezvani (Iran)
Dad's Sneakers (Papyni krosivky) - Olha Zhurba (Ukraine)
Sound of the Night (Somleng reatrey) - Chanrado Sok, Kongkea Vann (Cambodia)
Squish! - Tulapop Saenjaroen (Thailand/Singapore)
Steakhouse - Špela Čadež (Slovenia/Germany/France)
The Sunset Special - Nicolas Gebbe (Germany)
Strawberry Cheesecake - Siyou Tan (Singapore)
Time Flows in Strange Ways on Sundays (Yi Yi) - Giselle Lin (Singapore)

Pardi di domani - Concorso nazionale

After a Room - Naomi Pacifique (UK/Netherlands/Switzerland)
Dream Racing (Cavales) - Juliette Riccaboni (Switzerland)
Strangers (Chute) - Nora Longatti (Switzerland)
Dihya - Lucia Martinez Garcia (Switzerland)
Thing (Ding) - Pascale Egli, Aurelio Ghirardelli (Switzerland)
It Must (Es muss) - Flavio Luca Marano, Jumana Issa (Switzerland)
Four Pills at Night - Leart Rama (Kosovo/Switzerland)
Mr. Pete & the Iron Horse - Kilian Vilim (Switzerland)
Real News - Luka Popadić (Switzerland/Serbia)
The Life Underground - Loïc Hobi (Switzerland)

Pardi di domani - Concorso Corti d’autore

CaricaturanaRadu Jude (Romania)
Creature (Criatura)María Silvia Esteve (Argentina/Switzerland)
Dead Flash - Bertrand Mandico (France)
Fou de Bassan - Yann Gonzalez (France)
Happiness Is a Journey - Ivete Lucas, Patrick Bresnan (USA/Estonia)
Hotel Royal - Salomé Lamas (Portugal)
How Do You Measure a Year? - Jay Rosenblatt (USA)
Gotta Fabricate Your Own Gifts (Il faut fabriquer ses cadeaux) - Cyril Schäublin (Switzerland)
Penalty Shot (Kazneni udarac) - Rok Biček (Croatia/Slovenia/Austria)
Se posso permettermi - Marco Bellocchio (Italy)

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