Short Report. Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival 2023: Shorts All Over

If there ever was a country where short film was venerated, that would be France. And, that makes complete sense because this is where cinema was born. And, it was born with short films. So, it comes as no surprise that THE short film festival should take place there. Also, it is not the Cannes Film Festival. It is the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival that started in 1979 as a Short Film Week organized by the Clermont-Ferrand University Film Society. In 1982, the festival became competitive, with a jury attributing awards to films selected from the recent French short film production. International films were shown in special programs highlighting a particular theme, genre, country or region of the world. The audience was also presented with tributes to the great short filmmakers of the past and present. In 1986, the first Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Market was organized, with the intention to raise the economic profile of short films. Clermont has been the biggest short film festival for the past forty-five years, the essential meeting place for spectators, professionals, youngsters and school children. Audiences have a choice of 600 films, across all sections, the three competitions (national, international and Lab) included.

Moreover, the festival has launched the careers of many directors such as Cédric Klapisch who won the Special Jury Prize in 1987 for his graduation film, In Transit, and then again, the Special Jury Prize in 1990 for I Am Moving. He went on to make hits such as L’auberge espagnole; Jean-Pierre Jeunet, who won the Audience Award and Press Award in 1990 for Bullshit; Jan Kounen and his prize-winning research in 1994 for Vibroboy; Erick Zonca who won the Grand Prix in 1995 for Eternal; Shawn Christensen who won the 2012 International Audience Award for Curfew, and went on to win the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Film at the 85th Academy Awards.

Furthermore, Clermont-Ferrand is the home of La Jetée, a unique fund, a library open to all, whose collections tackle all the aspects of the cinema, its history and trades. It is a unique place in Europe, dedicated to the memory of the short film When they chose La Jetée as a name for this place, as a tribute to Chris Marker’s emblematic film, the team of Sauve qui peut le court métrage insisted on the importance of film heritage, short film heritage in particular. Discovering fresh talents, bringing films to the public, promoting creation and training are actions that the team would not be able to conduct if they did not interact and if these actions were not backed by a strong will to preserve and maintain access to this heritage. Hence, the association opened in the spring of 2000 a unique Documentation Center. This Center has joined the network of public libraries managed by Clermont Communauté. The Documentation Center gathers more than forty years of archives of the world´s largest short film festival. Any paper or audiovisual document on the production of short films is systematically archived and made available to the public. The Documentation Centre at La Jetée is open to the general public from in and around Clermont-Ferrand, to students, researchers and programmers. There they can consult and view the festival archives, features films, publications, magazines, all dedicated to the trades and history of cinema.

Per the festival, many of us thought that 2022 would be the year when we would return to whatever normalcy now means, but instead, it hasn’t been a calm year on the international stage. Nevertheless, filmmakers from all over the globe have continued to take an amused, original, and sometimes critical look at what surrounds us, which was discovered in the seventy-eight short films that make up the 2023 International Competition – eight animations, eight documentaries and sixty fiction films from fifty-two countries, and they took the festival’s audiences away from their daily concerns. The International Competition program was made up of the following films: 48 Hours by Azadeh Moussavi (Iran); A History of The World According to Getty Images by Richard Misek (UK/Norway); Khue Vu Nguyen Nam’s A Lost Astronaut and a City of Footprints (Vietnam); The Age of Innocence by Maximilian Bungarten (Germany); Guilherme Xavier Ribeiro’s Ainda Restarão Robôs Nas Ruas Do Interior Profundo (Through the Deep West) (Brazil); Airhostess-737 by Thanasis Neofotistos (Greece); Kálmán Nagy’s Das Andere Ende der Strasse (The Other End of The Street) (Austria/Hungary); Aurélie Oliveira Pernet’s As Sacrificadas (The Left Behind)  (Switzerland/Portugal); Åsnelandet (Donkeyland) by Bahar Pars (Sweden); Casandra Campos Ernst’s Baile Entretenido (Fun Dance) (Chile); Bergie by Dian Weys (South Africa); Blue Boy by Tyler Riggs (USA); Hao Tang’s Burning (Taiwan); But What Does It Mean? by Julie Ecoffey (Switzerland); Julius Blum’s Chemkids (Germany); Polen Ly’s Chhngai Dach Alai (Further and Further Away) (Cambodia); Alica Bednáriková’s Chlieb Náš Každodenný (Liquid Bread) (Slovakia); Civic by Dwayne LeBlanc (USA); Andreas Nilsson’s Claudio’s Song (UK); Miranda Stern’s Clean (UK); Cuerdas (Chords) by Estibaliz Urresola (Spain); Cut (Cut) by Min-zun Son (South Korea); Tonia Mishiali’s Daphne (Cyprus); Daron, Daron Colbert by Kevin Steen (USA); Des Jeunes Filles Enterrent Leur Vie (Burial of Life as A Young Girl) by Maïté Sonnet (France); Des Voisins Dans Ma Cour (Neighbors in My Backyard) by Eli Jean Tahchi (Canada); Jan Bujnowski’s Diabeł (The Devil) (Poland); E Je Išlo Sigurnim Tokom (Steady Flow) by Anja Jovanovic (Montenegro); Joachim Hérissé’s Écorchée (Skinned) (France); Entre Dos Islas (Between Two Islands) by Hideki Nakazaki (Cuba); La Entrega (The Hand Over) by Pedro Díaz (Spain); Escasso (Scarce) by Gabriela Gaia Meirelles (Brazil); Il Faut Tout Un Village… (It Takes a Village…) by Ophelia Harutyunyan (Armenia/Belgium/France); Andrés Jiménez Quintero’s Golem (Colombia); Hafra’at Hitmotetut Hamoshava (Colony Collapse Disorder) by Amos Holzman (Israel); Varun Chopra’s Holy Cowboys (India/USA); Homem Do Lixo (The Garbage Man) by Laura Goncalves (Portugal); The House of Loss by Jinkyu Jeon (South Korea/Japan); Ice Merchants by João Gonzalez (Portugal/UK/France); Michael Spiccia’s I’m on Fire (USA/Australia); Simone Massi’s In Quanto a Noi (From Our Side) (Italy); Vincent René-Lortie’s Invincible (Canada); Klette by Michael Abay (Belgium); Lasse Lyskjær Noer’s Knight of Fortune (Denmark); Koha Wa Tapaha (Hills and Mountains) by Salar Pashtoonyar (Afghanistan/Canada); Little by Little by Hongju Kang (South Korea); Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk’s Liturgy of Anti-Tank Obstacles (USA/Ukraine); Maisha Maene’s Mulika (Democratic Republic of the Congo); Sara Gunnarsdóttir’s My Year of Dicks (USA); Nothing Holier Than a Dolphin by Isabella Margara (Greece); Nowhere Float by Fan Zhang (China); Sasha Argirov’s Nurture (Canada); Obesk by Jonas Smulders (Netherlands); Oil Oil Oil by Manoël Dupont (Belgium/France); Bilal Alkhatib’s Palestine 87 (Palestine); Pitbull by Fabián De Jesús León López (Mexico); Please Hold the Line by Ce Ding Tan (Malaysia); Portør (Porter) by Lisa Enes (Norway); Trëndelina Halili’s Prishtinë, 2002 (Kosovo); Ramboy by Matthias Joulaud and Lucien Roux (Switzerland); Repair by Bertil Nilsson (UK); Mino Capuano’s Sciaraballa (Italy); Scrap by Jamie O’rourke (Ireland); Serpêhatiyên Neqewimî (Things Unheard Of) by Ramazan Kilic (Turkey); Slow Light by Przemyslaw Adamski and Katarzyna Kijek (Poland/Portugal); Alvin Lee’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (Singapore); Darcy Prendergast’s Strange Beasts (Australia); Summer Rain by Shao Tzu Lin (Taiwan); Takanakuy by Gustavo Bockos “Vokos” (Brazil/Peru); The Trapped Pig by Binghan Lin (China); Amartei Armar’s Tsutsuɛ (Tsutsué) (France/Ghana); Um Caroço De Abacate (An Avocado Pit) by Ary Zara (Portugal); Uogos (Cherries) by Vytautas Katkus (Lithuania); Enrique Buleo’s Las Visitantes (Women Visiting a City) (Spain); Von Der Flüchtigkeit Eines Geschmacks (A Transient Taste) by Eva Neidlinger (Germany); Wa Thakarina Wa Unthana (Our Males and Females) by Ahmad Alyaseer (Jordan); Will My Parents Come to See Me by Mo Harawe (Austria/Germany/Somalia); Justus Hanfland’s Der Zufall (The Coincidence) (Germany).

The International Grand Prix went to Will My Parents Come to See Me by Mo Harawe while the International Special Jury Prize was given to Vincent René-Lortie’s Invincible. The audience chose Nothing Holier Than a Dolphin by Isabella Margara and Lena Papaligoura won the Award for Outstanding Performance for her role in Airhostess-737 Thanasis Neofotistos. The rest of the awards can be seen either in our article on the subject or the festival’s website.

The International Competition Jury consisted of Cristèle Alves Meira, Lionel Baier, Julie Bertuccelli, Ho Wi-Ding and Stacey Rozich.

“Despite the decline in movie theater attendance, one thing is certain: French production has never weakened. With 1,972 films registered this year, we are approaching the levels of “the world before,”” the festival says. The festival’s audiences were seduced by colorful characters and distant or inner landscapes in fifty-six films in the National Competition, which consisted of the following titles: 9ème Étage Droite (9th Floor on The Right) by Andrea Romano; Claudia Bettino’s À Trois (The Three of Us); Aaaah! (Aaaah!) by Osman Cerfon; Abbas Taheri and Mahdieh Toosi’s Aban; El After Del Mundo by Florentina Gonzalez; Camille Degeye’s Almost a Kiss; Valentine Caille’s Amarres; Aude N’Guessan Forget’s Anansi; Auxiliaire by Lucas Bacle; Bellus by Alexis Pazoumian; Carlos Segundo’s Big Bang (France/Brazil); Bitume (Asphalt) by Léo Blandino; Antoine Giorgini’s  Bonne Soirée (Good Evening); La bouche en cœur (Cupid’s Bow) by Manon Tacconi; Calcutta 8:40am by Adriano Valerio (France/India); Cloche Petite Aux Merveilles Du Pays (Bell in a Land of Wonders) by Anthony Brinig; Las Criaturas Que Se Derriten Bajo El Sol (The Melting Creatures) by Diego Céspedes (France/Chile); Cécile Mille’s Cui Cui Cui (Chirp Chirp Chirp); Les Dents Du Bonheur (Sweet Tooth) by Joséphine Darcy Hopkins; Jean Decré’s Derrière La Nuit (Behind the Night); Des Jeunes Filles Enterrent Leur Vie (Burial of Life as a Young Girl) by Maïté Sonnet; Le Dogsitter (Maintenant Que Je Suis Un Fantôme) (Dogsitter (Now That I’m a Ghost)) by Frédéric Bélier-Garcia; Camille Pernin’s Dominique Personne; Écorchée (Skinned) by Joachim Hérissé; The Elevator by Dong Jiang; Zoel Aeschbacher’s Fairplay (France/Switzerland); Le Feu Au Lac (Fire at the Lake) by Pierre Menahem; Mohammad Babakoohi’s Feux (Fires); Go Fishboy by Sebastian Doringer, Lan Zhou, Zhen Tian, Andrey Kolesov, Denise Cirone and Chiayu Liu; Camille Authouart’s La Grande Arche (The Great Arc); Les Grandes Vacances (The Summer Holidays) by Valentine Cadic; Hors-Saison (Off-Season) by Francescu Artily; Emma Limon’s I Once Was Lost (France/USA); Matthieu Salmon’s Invisibles; Le Jour Où J’étais Perdu (One Day When I Was Lost) by Soufiane Adel; I Kemi Varros Baballaret by Hekuran Isufi; Beru Tessema’s Lions (France/UK); La Lutte Est Une Fin (The Struggle Is the End) by Arthur Thomas-Pavlowsky; Léa-Jade Horlier’s Matapang (France/Belgium); Ovan Gruvan (Ovan Gruvan – Above the Mine) by Lova Karlsson and Théo Audoire; Pluie De Grâce Ou Grâce À La Pluie (Raining Grace or Thanks to the Rain) by Chryssa Florou; Ressources Humaines (Human Resources) by Titouan Tillier, Isaac Wenzek and Trinidad Plass Caussade; Rien D’important (Working Class) by François Robic; Le Roi Qui Contemplait La Mer (A King, Gazing at the Sea) by Jean-Sébastien Chauvin; Johanna Caraire’s Sardine; Vincent Fontano’s Sèt Lam; Les Silencieux (The Silent Ones) by Basile Vuillemin (Belgium/Switzerland/France); S’il-Vous-Plaît Arrêtez Tous De Disparaître (Something Ever Missing) by Laura Thomassaint; Sur La Tombe De Mon Père (On My Father’s Grave) by Jawahine Zentar; Iris Chassaigne’s Swan Dans Le Centre (Swan in the Center); Todo Incluido by Duván Duque Vargas (France/Colombia); Tom Veut Rentrer (Tom Wants Home) by Arthur Bacry and Marianne Gaudillère; Jean Baptiste Leonetti’s Tondex 2000; Xavier Debeir Lacaille’s Un Dernier Été (One Last Summer); La Vie au Canada by Frédéric Rosset; Garance Kim’s Ville Éternelle (The Eternal City).

The National Grand Prix went to La lutte est une fin (Struggle Is the End) by Arthur Thomas-Pavlowsky while the National Special Jury Prize was given to Zoel Aeschbacher’s Fairplay. The audience chose Tondex 2000 by Jean-Baptiste Leonetti and Chanel Victor won the Award for Outstanding Performance for her role in Anansi by Aude N’guessan Forget. The rest of the awards can be seen either in our article on the subject or the festival’s website.

The National Competition was made up of Bastien Dubois, Alain Guiraudie, Claude Le Pape, Rabah Nait Oufella and Fanny Sidney.

This year´s country in focus was Taiwan while the 2023 theme in focus was Libido. More information can be found on both subjects on the festival´s website, where all the details on its work to preserve the short form and the rest of the program, competitions and industry events are available as well.

It was an immense pleasure to discover the Mecca of short film, watch films, discover authors, roam the short film market, discuss cinema with film lovers and feel the love for the short form all around!

Photo credits: Yellow Bread Shorts.

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