Finding Pearls The festival programmer Alexander Gusev talks about the film selection for this year's SHIFT Film Festival 2019.
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Finding Pearls

The festival programmer Alexander Gusev talks about the film selection for this year's SHIFT Film Festival 2019.

Alexander Gusev is not only a festival programmer and often asked jury member for film festivals, but also a true film lover. In our interview with him he told us about the value he senses in the official selection films of this year's SHIFT Film Festival and ponders on the question what kind of personal value the experience of these films might have for the audience.

"What makes this program special is the reflection of changes taking place in social relations, through the personal life of the characters, through their intimate sensations."

11 augustus 2019

Shifting Boundaries

"For the festival selection we tried to focus not only on the artistic value of the works, but also on their social significance, on how the transformations that modern society is experiencing are reflected in the topic of the films. In our opinion, the films that we present to the audience, in their entirety, are a kind of essay on the changes taking place in the perception of our contemporaries. Dividing the program into two blocks, we have tried to bring together both, films about the most intimate aspects of mutual relations between close people, about what people believe to be their innermost homes, and those works that tell more about the social dimension of communication between people."

Shift in Mutual Understanding

"The film block Shift in Mutual Understanding starts with Visit by Stijn Bouma which is about loneliness in old age, a lack of genuine contact between mother and son, subject to external requirements of attention and care. Who Are You? by Tanya Yakovlev picks up the topic of contact disruption and speaks of the various different stages of it, about alienation born out of misunderstanding or illness. Bellmouth by Joe Roberts tells about the loneliness that you can experience even with your family, about the heavy burden of responsibility for the parent and the helplessness of a child who fell victim to the inability of adults to fulfill their duties. About a child’s ability to confront family problems on his own tells Samoeraai by Sven Peetoom. On the contrary, Mum by Mariam Al Awadhi is about the unity that occurs within a family, whose members are faced with xenophobia and other forms of oppression from those around them. The first block's final film is the surrealistic animated film Medium Rare by Luca Cioci which is perceived as a dream of family anxieties and worries, about the violation of the emotional and mental balance in the domestic circle."

Shift in Contrasts

"The block Shift in Contrasts opens with a Terminus by Jan Pool which is about the accidental сlash of people of opposite nature who are in a state of extreme stress. Shapes by Fariba Buchheim tells about a clash with our own body and about the psychological and social dimension of such a collision. Evaluation by Eyal Tzadik and Yotam Kislev shows a situation when the existence of people is affected not by the body but by a mental disease. Line of Duty by Mayank Malhotra is dedicated to our ability to overcome imposed stereotypes in our perception of someone else as hostile, showing a way of crossing the borders of our own prejudices. Smack Edd by Greg Hall is about boundaries of our own nature that we are trying shift but fail to. Sacrifice by Huixin Huang shows the delicate balance between civilization and nature, male and female, life and death as well as the permeable border between them."

"What makes this program special is the reflection of changes taking place in social relations, through the personal life of the characters, through their intimate sensations."

Portraying our deepest fear

"Perhaps the film that impressed my most is Who Are You? by Tanya Yakovlev. Maybe our deepest, inescapable fear, the fear of loneliness, loss, betrayal and estrangement from loved ones, is shown in the narrative in which the present is not separated from the past, reality is not separated from a dream."

Finding the pearl

"In my opinion, as a selector and as a cinema-goer, viewing collections of short films allows us to find a pearl for ourselves. Viewers may not agree with our assessment of these films, with our concept of their message, however, it seems to me, gathered together, these works can provoke a really interesting discussion."

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