Festival International du Film de Fribourg

curated by Giuseppe Di Salvatore

My favourite short films of the Festival International du Film de Fribourg are almost all women’s stories that explore the nuances and complexity of their existence and, at the same time, work as a seismograph of the society in which the women live.

Mar, autist and dependent, has a free and independent sister. They are both solidary and distant, creating a word of tensions where Mar’s sister’s boyfriend simply gets lost. Tenderness and toughness are played out beyond the gender clichés, through an amazing cinematic attention to details. Milorad Milatovic draws a sort of open portrait of a complex triangle, and we experience how relationships can combine needs and desires in a constructive way.

Mar | Milorad Milatovic | MNE 2022 | 22’

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Nina Kopko probably started with an old photo of a strike – Brazil, 1979 – and asked: what was the destiny of the rare women appearing on it? Between historical reconstruction and reinvention of typical characters, Lunch Break develops itself in the form of a theatrical Kammerspiel through the intense performance of four convincing actresses. The individual and the universal match together, and the didactic touch is well balanced by an inspired humanism.

Lunch Break | Nina Kopko | BRA 2021 | 24’

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A girl becomes a woman: a natural and spontaneous transition, that we experienced as such through Astel’s eyes, but her eyes will also witness how this transition causes rigid patriarchal rules to emerge. With her gaze we discover how physical and social freedom has to be abandoned when a girl enters the world of women in rural Senegal. Ramata-Toulaye Sy perfectly uses images, more than words, in order to convey a deep experience of this coming-of-age drama, which actually is a coming-of-awareness drama, where cinema is able to show how social rules can clash against nature.

Astel | Ramata-Toulaye Sy | FR-SEN 2021 | 24’

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The storytelling is very simple and we easily understand the film’s intention to illustrate the difficult conditions for a Pakistani girl, Zara, to experience a free first date, but the force of Seemab Gul’s film is all in how she can create a subtle shift of Zara’s perception and awareness. The classical emancipatory pattern of young modern lovers against the familiar bonds starts to break when her virtual boyfriend slowly reveals himself to be as modern in his actual attitudes of dater as traditional in his perspective as future boyfriend. It is an important step, in cinema, to see how patriarchy is not only embodied by old parents but also by young smiling boys…

Sandstorm | Seemab Gul, Pakistan | PAK 2021 | 20’

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A real aesthetic trip is Ery Claver and Gretel Marín’s story of Lucia. Image, sound, and text work together as hallucinatory elements to describe a journey of exploitation that seems to unveil no possible retrieval, only a dangerous crescendo. The intense glimpses of poetry fascinate us and at the same time get stranded as cries of beauty in the mud of violence. The fragile syntax of words will affect Lucia’s story in a filmic spiral of deconstruction.

Lúcia no céu com semáforos | Ery Claver and Gretel Marín | ANG 2018 | 15’ (VideoEx Zürich 2018)

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A video letter, edited as if it was an elliptic flow of poetic verses. The cuts and the solitude speak of separation and exile. Five minutes to put feelings in images, to create something that already appears as a distant memory. It is difficult to add words to what only the work of cinema can do.

Frozen Out | Hao Zhou | CHN 2021 | 5’

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A final mention of three deserving films that admirably tell collective stories, Denis Miala’s Moça, Fradique’s Alambamento, both from Angola, and Rishi Chandna’s Party Poster from India.