We all have this secret longing for cinema to change the world. The coronavirus crisis turned that fantasy upside down with surgical precision: the world changes cinema, it has emptied movie theatres, cancelled festivals, stopped all film shoots on their tracks and forced us back into our homes to watch films online. Once we got over this shock, we, at La Semaine de la Critique, had to pursue our mission to champion young filmmakers. By supporting ten short films, we are working towards getting back to "business as usual" (and we will see you in Cannes in May 2021) but we know perfectly well that things will never be quite as they were as "quarantine", "social distancing" and "lockdown” are now part of our paradigm. As we are writing these lines late May 2020 and the arts seem to be the last thing on our governments’ minds, here there and everywhere, our support to those to ten international filmmakers seems all the more important.
Therefore, these ten short films in the time of the pandemic resonate differently: we will watch them longing for the world that was (parties in Naïla Guiguet’s Dustin, road trips in Teymur Hajiyev’s Towards Evening), with our ambiguous feelings (Peace? Anguish? The need to make your own sourdough bread?) as we experience this period where time seems to have stopped, which is still on going, to some extent (and which resonates with Graham Foy's August 22, This Year and Aya Kawazoe’s Humongous!). But beyond the usual range of moods and tones, from Lillah Halla's feminist punk tale Menarca to Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis's documentary and memory reenactment Maalbeek, the same question seems to be gnawing away at the films and the locked-down selection committee: What’s next? What do we do next?
In their own universe, the characters of these ten short films must face a worrisome future and a worrisome world: whether one must outgrow the half-light of childhood and face the eerie flare of adult desires in White Goldfish by Jan and Raf Roosens or in Lucía Aleñar Iglesias’s Forastera, survive rape in Molly Manning Walker’s Good Thanks, You?, or see one’s best friend walk away forever in Vincent Tilanus’ Marlon Brando. At dawn, the characters in Dustin stagger towards their afterparty, as we all do, in films or in real life, looking for a meaning, a connection with others and a bright future. May they find it, may we do as well, may we zoom in on what matters most, rather than get reeled into a remote reality, from the Rear Window of our computer.
Short film committee