No idea what I had to expect at the official Opening Night of the 21st edition of the International Short Film Festival! It takes place in Leuven, a city only 25 kms away from the Belgian capital Brussels and is as tiny as can be actually, but still this festival is very renowned AND Oscar-qualifying!
Once I entered Kinepolis in Leuven and saw its red carpet, I felt that little bit more special. I did not recognise that many people, also because short films and their directors is a different kind of filmmaking. Lean-back in my comfy seat, we had the popular radio presenter Kirsten Lemaire hosting the evening and she introduced us to the Programmer of the Festival, Maarten Alexander (Fonk vzw), who was very pleased to welcome us and tell us some more about the festival programme and the different focusses, like the Arabilicious-series, or the focus on Spanish shorts.
After that we watched 1 videoclip and 5 shorts. 3 out of 5 were made by Flemish directors and participating in the Vlaamse Competitie. Tonight was also the première of these films, so there was quite a nervous atmosphere. Of course the directors and their actors are excited to know what the audience would think about their work.
First things first. There was the videoclip, which serves as the trailer to Kung Fury (2015) by David Sandberg. The title already gives away what the film’s about, indeed kung fu. The soundtrack is made by David Hasselhoff. The video clip was simply ridiculously genious. So do watch the it, then you’ll understand.
The first real short film was a Spanish one called Adri (2013) by Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren, that is also selected in the Cortitos 1-series and was already selected for Brussels Short Film Festival earlier this year. Adri tells the story about a young competition swimmer who has her first period.
Then there were 2 Flemish shorts, who were at least to be called “alternative”, namely Guest by Moon Blaisse and Niemendal by the 25 year-old and most talented director Harm Dens.The latter we will surely keep an eye on, because his way of constructing settings and creating atmosphere by opting for specific perspectives is intriguing.
Both shorts were slow-paced and seemed to lack a proper story plot. Nonetheless, both tell the story of loneliness and boredom and how to cope with it. Guest stars Peter Van Den Begin and Niemandal has only 2character, namely 2 inmates performed by Titus De Voogdt en Stefaan Degand. All these actors are well-known among the Flemish audience and much appreciated for their acting.
The 3rd and final Flemish short was actually French-spoken. Feel Sad for the Bunny (2015) by former professional cyclist Kenneth Mercken seriously opposes the other ones, because of its narrative complexity and depth. Feel Sad for the Bunny tells the story of 2 brothers and their nanny, and how lust and the lack of a mother-figure tears them apart. By the way, for those who know Black by El Arbi and Fallah, must have recognised Simon Frey as one of the actors. But mostly, this shortfilm reminded me of Felix Van Groeningen’s Helaasheid der Dingen (The Misfortunates, 2009).The result is stunning and the VAF Wilcard from last year definitely well spent.
The last one of the night was the trippy Slaves of the Rave by William Garratt, which is only 2.39 mins. but takes us on a trip through music land. For all those music lovers out there Slaves of the Rave is a undeniably briliant animated short film and the perfect end of a series of sometimes rather confusing and heavy fiction shorts.
Afterwards, the audience could meet the directors and crew of the Short Film Festival at the reception.