The week when I watched sixty films | The Velvet Café

skallamannIt’s been a crazy week in regards of film watching. So far I’ve seen 29 and before the week is over I expect to have made it a double.

Does it sound a lot? Well it is. But each one didn’t last very long – approximately 10 minutes on an average.

For the first time in my life I’m attending Uppsala International Short Film Festival.

This is the 30th edition since the start, so you could say it was about time I took the 10 minute ride on my bicycle downtown to check it out. And I’m having a blast!

One moment I’m in a misty swamp in Finland where berry pickers from Thailand clash with the locals. The next moment I get to see a pen strapped to an apple tree doing a random painting at a paper as the branch moves in the wind and I have no freaking idea of what it’s supposed to mean. But I don’t get to brood about that for long, because something else has already captured my attention.

What a rollercoaster it’s been so far!

Not every film is good. As a matter of fact some are pretty awful. I’m not prone to use the word pretentious, but I don’t know what else to call some of the crap I’ve seen. I broke a new record yesterday night with a ten minute movie which probably was the worst I’ve ever watched on a screen. I won’t go into details about it since it probably deserves a special post.

But it doesn’t matter! Not the slightest! Because once you realize that the film you’re watching isn’t for you,  you can relax.  The night isn’t ruined. You haven’t wasted money on a full-priced ticket for a 2,5 hour movie in extra expensive 3D.  You know that it’s only a matter of minutes before the film is over and you’ll get to tear off the cover from the next present.

Attending a shor tfilm festival is like celebrating Christmas with the difference that it lasts an entire week, you don’t have to cook and it won’t ruin you.

Prejudiced and lazy
I would never have imagined I’d be so enchanted by this format. As a matter of fact I’ve always kept myself at a distance from short films. One reason is that I used to have prejudices. Short films sound a bit second class, don’t they? It’s something newbies and half of half amateurs can comfort themselves with because they can’t finance any bigger.

However the main reason why I’ve stayed away from it is pure laziness. The return on investment is too low, just as it is with short stories that I thought I couldn’t be bothered. You see, I’m so incredibly slow at getting “into it”. It takes effort to get to know the character and the plot, to understand what the story is about. Every film, regardless of length, every written story, starts uphill. Once I’ve climbed it I think I deserve to enjoy the view for a while, getting a free ride through the novel or feature movie. If you’re watching a short film you know that there won’t be any free leisure time. As soon as you’ve reached the top, it’s over.

But all of that is history now. I’m hooked, not to say addicted. There’s so much to love about those midget films:

  • The diversity.
  • The creativity that comes with a low budget.
  • The small scale which forces the film makers to concentrate on the essentials. It’s like an aged malt whisky compared to the diluted brewerages we usually get in mainstream 2 hour movies. You only need a few drops of it to feel satisfied. Strong and delisious.

And look at all this talent! Who knows what gems that are hiding among all the 300 short films that are shown this week? Perhaps there is a future world famous film maker who is taking his or her first steps towards a long and shiny career at this very festival? Perhaps he or she is sitting in the theatre as I’m watching their film? You never know.  After all there are a bunch of them attending the festival, so I make sure to join in the applauses that follow after every film in the short break. Just in case. I don’t want them to think that I don’t appreciate their work. Even when it sucks.

My favourites so far
Writing proper reviews about 29 films, let alone 60 is almost undoable. But I can’t refrain from giving a few shout-outs to my favourites so far:

The External World (David OReilly, GE, 2010) This is an animated film made by a young Irish animator based in Germany. It’s weird, funny and very stylish. Not safe for children since it contains a lot of violence and some kinky sex.

This one is legally available for free , but donations are welcome.

The Last Norwegian Troll (Pjotr Sapegin, NO, 2010) If you’re as much into trolls as I am after watching Trollhunter, this is a must-see. It’s an extended animated version of the fairy tale “The three goats Gruff”, which illustrates the current state of the troll population in Norway. An extra bonus is that one of my favourite actors, Max von Sydow, appears as the narrator.

Las Palmas (Johannes Nyholm, SWE, 2011) You might have seen the trailer for this shortfilm. “Baby trashes bar in Las Palmas” has 12 million downloads so far and I’m not surprised. It’s cute and funny in a slightly disturbing way. The only human actor in the film is the one year old daughter of the director. That’s a creative way of spending your parental leave! I’m sure there’s someone out there who is upset, wondering if you “can do this to a baby”. I think you can. It looks as if she had a blast.

Baldguy (“Skallamann”, Maria Bock, NO, 2011) Who can resist a cheerful musical number? I certainly can’t. This is an adorable little film with a LGTB friendly love message and a catchy refrain that I’ve been humming since I watched it. It just puts me in a silly, happy mood. As in the case of Las Palmas there’s a trailer for it, which unfortunately looks a bit laggy, at least on my screen. But at least you get a basic idea of what it’s like. I’ve seen it once so far, I’m going to see it a second time tomorrow night as I’m going to a sequence of queer movies. And if I’m lucky I can see it one more time, if it turns out to a prize winner or a favorite of the audience. I wouldn’t mind at all.

Friday night drink
But I’ve been talking too long. It’s time to wrap up this post and prepare for a relaxing Friday night, with or without film watching. Please let me know if you want something to drink. Coffee, tea? Something stronger? That’s fine, but no Las Palmas in my café, OK?

I hope you’ll have a wonderful weekend.


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