11 February 2009

Guest Blogger: Clermont-Ferrand travel diary by Tal Rosner

Hello! I've just come back from Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival and was asked to write a short blog entry about it - so - here we go.

This year was the first time I visited the Festival, an extremely well-organised week, with numerous screenings in multiple venues. I arrived on the 5th day so was only there for the last part of the festival. The 3 main competitive sections were the National (France), International and Labo (Lab). My AnimateTV 2008 film, Without You, was featured in one of the 5 Labo Programmes (L2), which were all screened daily (in different venues and different times). As a spectator, I focused on the Labo screenings, which are the place to see new experimental stuff from around the world.

I found a huge variety in the material that was chosen for Labo screenings: from hand-drawn, slightly more traditional animation, via crazy CGI stuff to documentaries with no animation at all. The lengths of the individual films also varied a lot in the programmes (from 3 to 30 minutes).

Leaving my favourite films aside for a minute (I’ll get to them later) - a question that kept on surfacing during my trip to the festival, and in over-dinner discussions with the lovely Jane and Lindy (who saved the day - thank you!) was - how do you define a film as 'experimental'? Is it the fact that you haven't seen anything like it before? And if so, doesn't the definition of 'experimental' become a subjective matter?

As all of us see things with reference to the different collection of things we've seen in the past - maybe something that looks 'experimental' to person A would actually be something that person B has seen many times before. Also - does 'experimental' necessarily mean experimental in technique (i.e. the way the images are drawn, photographed or manipulated - 'imagery'), or is there perhaps another level of experimentation, which is the grammar (i.e. the way thing are constructed on the timeline - 'form'). Perhaps I'm being biased to my own interests and agenda, but I felt there wasn't enough of the latter – to me it is mandatory.

All in all though, it was an extremely positive experience. The "Film Market" was also quite fun to go through. It felt like there was a huge amount of very keen people from around the globe and that they were all there together to keep things moving in good and right directions.

My favourites (and all things I personally haven't seen the like before!) were:

REISE ZUM WALD by Jorn Staeger (Germany). A very well-edited visual essay about the German myth of trees. Crazy journey from close ups to timelapse to satellite shots exploring one simple visual motif in an extremely elegant way.

MURO by Tião (Brazil). A short film with a poetic and sometimes violent sense of film grammar, cuts and juxtapositions between 'real' and more symbolic/surreal scenes (imagine Dali in Brazil circa 2008 - but on film).

by Michael Langan (US). Very hyped American short, might not be coherent throughout but very interesting structurally and includes a shot of man dancing a waltz with a car, which was unforgettable.

Thanks for reading

Image: Clermont-Ferrand, Tal Rosner. For more images visit our flickr

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