TIFF 2017. Shadows Shorts. Short Talk with Mihai Mitrica

At this year’s Transilvania International Film Festival, “Yellow Bread” sat down with Mihai Mitrica, the selector of the “Shadows Shorts” Competition program, and talked about the program, this year’s selection and short films in general.



How was the Shadows Shorts section created?

Mihai Mitrica: Actually, if I remember correctly, it was ten years ago, maybe eleven. And, it was Mihai Chirilov, the artistic director of the festival, who decided to do something with horror film, but without being too cliché about it, like for instance the Transylvania horror style. It was one of our good friends – a film critic – who programmed the section at the beginning before I took over. It was the only shorts competition at TIFF. We screened the shorts before the features in the Competition program and that’s why there are twelve of them.

Has it always been a competition program?

M.M.: No. In the beginning – the first edition of Shadows Shorts – it was not a Competition program. In a way, we just wanted to test the audience. And then, with the second edition, it became a Competition program.

How has it evolved since 2007?

M.M.: When it became a Competition program, when the films were still screening before the features in Competition, the features were not related to the horror genre, and what was very interesting and funny about  it, was that there was a lot of people who would leave the screening room after the shorts. And, I realized that many of them came especially for the shorts because it was the only opportunity to see them. It was not like now, in two blocks. And, two years later, we did a separate section, still a Competition program.

What can you say about this year’s selection?

M.M.: It was kind of difficult, because I decided to do this post-apocalyptic theme and it was difficult to find post-apocalyptic films among the submissions. So, the selection was made mostly from the submissions. But, because of the theme, I also chose other films with this topic that I’ve seen at other festivals.

Can you elaborate a bit on this year’s theme?

M.M.: Because we receive a lot of films with this kind of visual thematic, I said: “I will take this direction” and that’s why I decided to choose the post-apocalyptic theme.

What do you look for when you select films?

M.M.: Actually, it’s different. I’m not looking for, let’s say, only a good story or a good visual. It’s a mixture of all of this, but the fact is that I am also looking for the sound. For this year’s selection, there were at least three short films with a perfect sound design – honestly, the best I’ve seen.

Which ones?

M.M.: “Lunatique” by Gabriel Kalim Mucci, “The Lost Boy” by Ash Thorp and Anthony Scott Burns and “Zona-84” by Lonan García. The sound in “Behind” by Ángel Gómez Hernández is also very good.

And what about the “Everyone Dies” tagline on the posters every year? Does it thoroughly apply to every film every year? Does really everyone* die? Who came up with the tagline?

M.M.: It was my friend Marius. He does the promotional stuff for the section, and in the beginning, we said: “Let’s find something for the tagline” and on one of the first posters, there was Superman on a couch with a gun pointed to his head with the tagline “Everyone Dies”. And, from that visual, we got the inspiration that everybody dies – even Superman. So, we continued this tradition.

What can you say about the underrepresentation of short films?

M.M.: Yes, that is true – shorts are underrepresented. But, let’s say that in Transylvania, there’s an exception, and it’s also because there is an audience. And, going back to your previous question about how we evolved, we were first screening films in a cinema with 100 seats, then with 200 seats, and now we have this rather old cinema – but we use it for the occasion – and there are 400 seats and it’s sold-out every time. That’s good.

 What is your opinion on the short form in general?

M.M.: I asked the directors at the Q&A after the screening of the Shadows Shorts last night why they were making short films. Is it because it is a teaser/trailer for the feature? And, I was surprised with their answers, because I was sure they would say yes, but most of them said that they are doing shorts and they want to keep it like this. Of course, they’ll do features at times, but they’d never and will never do a short to think about a feature. And, as long as the directors keep this promise, the shorts will live…

What are your plans for the Shadows Shorts section for the future?

M.M.: To have screenings at a bigger cinema. And, maybe, to have some other events related to the section…

Like what, for instance?

M.M.: Like concerts, and perhaps thematic parties.

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