Over the past number of months, the Covid-19 pandemic has compelled festivals to rethink their presentation concepts. What was previously considered unthinkable has become matter-of-fact, thanks to tons of commitment and innumerable overtime hours: "online" and "hybrid" have become the buzzwords of the hour. Alas, with the increasing exploitation of short films on the Internet, a new narrative is emerging these days too: "Watch amazing films during your coffee break!", as streaming platform Sofy advertises short film – it's enough to make you want to tune out immediately. epd Film recently featured an article on the 2021 short film festival in Clermont-Ferrand which stated that short film should "open itself, and leave the arthouse niche. It should establish itself as an alternative to series, something for breaks, in the subway, for any time when there's not enough time for a feature film."
The independent and occasionally unruly category of short film should preferably be prepared and served up in snack form, to accommodate the need for diversion and distraction in a world with poor focussing skills. We are definitely entitled to our doubts about whether that can be called a winning strategy. One thing is clear though: when short film becomes an easily digestible product, it loses its identity. For short film doesn't merely mean "a short film". At its core, it preserves what cinema has been since the very beginning: discovery and experiment. It makes the development of film language conscious, is an expression of continual transformation and enables a constant comparison with the uncomfortable demands of reality.
Short film – and cinema in general - articulates that which language is unable to articulate – for why show anything at all, if one could simply speak or write of it? Film brings into the world that which the world itself cannot or will not think about itself. It shakes up the order of things, as it goes beyond this order and demonstrates that there is something else besides existence. A world of possibilities, one which rejects co-optation by economic factors, by surplus, by sensual dissipation, beauty, intoxication. Film is an aesthetic objection.
For that reason alone, obscure times don't require dumbed-down films that can be casually consumed in the tube – no, they require films that are capable of reflecting often-incomprehensible intricacies and taking up a position with artistic means. Films that create points of access to (sub)consciousness on the scratch-resistant surface of reality.
And how do we define ourselves? As a festival, we are reacting very strongly this year to the changing circumstances within and beyond the film (festival) landscape. The "creative director principle" has given way to a newly founded programming commission, as history – ours no less so – lives from change. On top of that, we have increasingly opened curating roles for external perspectives. It is our goal to keep interfilm open in the future too as a space for encounters and a jumping-off point for debates about what goes on around us every day. Vigilantly and vibrantly, we intend to question and grasp society and politics, life and art. In this spirit, we are looking forward to an exciting festival week, full of sharing and discovery!
The team of interfilm
interfilm is Berlin's largest and oldest short film festival. Every year in November, we fill a wide variety of venues throughout Berlin with a diverse program ranging from political concerns to artistic experimentation. More than 400 short films are selected for each festival and curated in the various sections. We have highly-endowed competitions as well as obscure special programs, regional focuses, film talks, workshops, concerts, parties and networking meetings as well as industry events. We are FFA- and OSCAR®-relevant. interfilm as a festival also includes KUKI, our festival for young audiences as well as a distribution, sales department & agency. We promote short film as a medium in schools and push the short format as exciting content for TV, streaming and cinema. With our supporting film subscription, we are also bringing the long-forgotten principle of the supporting film back to German cinemas.
Collective festival curation 2021: interfilm establishes a program commission. Thousands of short films are entrusted to us each year by filmmakers for consideration and curation, thousands of voices about the state of the world. The diversity of submitting filmmakers is now reflected in the curatorial work at interfilm, as important sections such as the competitions are now decided in curatorial teams, coordinated by the festival management. The directorship principle gives way to pluralistic openness. The curatorial concept of the festival will reflect the inherent openness of this approach, and the newly formed program commission understands its task as addressing the social discourses of our time in terms of aesthetics, form, and content.
Short film festival curators are observers on the front lines of (sur)reality. The complex nature of global interrelations is the object of their observation. Their task is to sensitize the audience to the results of their research in carefully composed program-portions and to heighten their interest in finding out increasingly more about the world in which they live.
Intricate world contexts and mediation strategies have permeated all aspects of interfilm for years. Working independently in the respective sections now converges with a collective consensus-building process in the tradition of a flat hierarchy: in the International Competition by Heinz Hermanns, Andrea Schwemmer, Sarah Dombrink and Matthias Groll, in the Documentary Competition by Moritz Lehr and Ingrid Beerbaum, in the German Competition by Patrick Thülig, Nastassja Kreft and Cord Dueppe. Other competitions, sections and special programs are also curated by teams. Whenever the view of our in-house curatorial teams reach their limits, we naturally open up the curation to external perspectives.
With a history of almost 40 years - click here for the festival archive - the festival has witnessed, cinematically-accompanied and reflected a rather significant part of recent history. From the squats in 1980s Kreuzberg to the great halls of the Volksbühne theatre or Babylon cinema, interfilm has enjoyed an eventful and moving history, and we want to expand on this with our program. Our curatorial work strives to open the audience's eyes to other, new and fascinating perspectives: artistic, political, social, cultural and technological. Our festival is conceived as a space to discuss these things, to interact with one another, and to exchange ideas.
We firmly believe in the inherent social potential of art in general and short film in particular. Hardly any other medium reacts so quickly and so concretely to social developments and at the same time offers such comprehensive artistic freedom. In our eyes, short film is ideally suited to reflect the discourse of our time, and we as a short film festival want to open up this discourse through short film and make it accessible to a broad audience.
Because: wherever you look, idiocy, despotism and persecution can be found in all strata of society; injustice and marginalization seem omnipresent. We want to take our audience with us, sensitize them and encourage them to examine injustice and take active action against it. We also want to encourage filmmakers worldwide to keep their eyes open and to direct their gaze, their cameras and all their artistic strengths towards stories that need to be told, that are too easily ignored in social discourse and that reinforce freedom across the globe.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!