The SHIFT Film Forum 2023 selection by Alexander Gusev

Festival programmer Alexander Gusev on the SHIFT Short Film Competition.

We tried to put together a program that would combine high artistic merit with important and relevant topics. It may sound pretentious, but we wanted our program to be a reflection of the creativity of today's young filmmakers and the world we live in, the challenges we face and how we deal with it.

Similarities and Differences

"All films are somehow devoted to the problem of xenophobia. Filmmakers show that this fear of the stranger, distrust of the unknown is a consequence of natural self-defense mechanisms, but at the same time the heroes of the films turn out to be, like most of us, able to overcome hostile feelings due to our equally natural ability to empathize."

Shifting Distance, Boundaries and Paradigms

"In About me by Ali Asgari the moral dilemma is put not before the main Iranian character, but before a representative of Western society, who suddenly finds herself face to face with foreign and alien customs and choosing to act in accordance with abstract ethic principles or with considerations of mercy towards a specific person. The Show by Frederic Kau the similar issues of how life tests our abstract beliefs are sharpened by the ratio of who we are and who we are trying to appear in the focus of social networks and TV, which is indispensable for a modern person. Thank you for your patience! by Simon van der Zande show how social tension and post-colonial ideological reflections could suddenly erupt into routine."

"In Zeebenen by Sam Dijkstra the topic of disability takes on a more universal dimension exposing our inner insecurities to even friendly people around us. At a Glance by Ruud Satijn is dedicated to our ability to overcome barriers built up by professional requirements and class conventions, when the understanding that another person needs our help encourages us to put someone else's safety above our own social comfort. Sleeping Dogs by Jenia Bayat Mokhtari, Amelie Befeldt, Samuli Salonen and Sarah Veith presents a view at human society from an unusual angle which allows the authors to see the power of stereotypes, the underlying racism and the struggles everyone faces in trying to balance self-expression with comfort for others."

Difference between the German, Belgium and Dutch films

"It is noteworthy that the films of the three countries explore the interaction between the private and the public in different ways. In each of the Dutch films the hero is forced to let other people into his private space or to intrude into someone else's life further than he would like, but at the same time this disturbing permeability of personal boundaries sometimes turns out to be saving. The authors of German films invite the audience to think about how our existence, hidden from prying eyes, corresponds to our social role, with the impression that we want to make. The Belgian film, inspired by activist YouTube videos, shows that in our era of social media we can become participants in a public speech, in a political performance regardless of our wish." 

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    "It seems to me that our program shows that for all the drama of our nowadays, in which, like a millennium ago, millions of people suffer from wars and oppression, we, as a civilization, are gradually learning to deal with the inevitable misfortunes of the human race, and, most importantly, very much depends on each of us in alleviating the fate of our neighbors."

    Thank for your patience! 

    "The most I like Thank you for your patience! by Simon van der Zande with its excellent realize the idea of shooting in one shot in the articulated bus while moving and using political skirmish as the starting point for showing how people react to the unusual, disturbing and threatening."

    Ukrainian Focus

    "In Ukrainian Focus we tried to compose a program of films that would reflect both the tragedy of Ukrainian modernity and the creative search of Ukrainian authors. Teatralna by Alina Panasenko tells about alienation in the space of a big city and our ability to overcome it, about the birth of sympathy from the noise of traffic and the rumble of the crowd. Kharkiv Music Fest Did Happen by Vyacheslav Turyanytsya is an exact hit in the painful nerve of time, a reflection of the feelings of those who are not on the front line, and their loved ones, who are ready for anything to keep them out. Golden leggings by Arkadiy Nepytaliuk appears as a kind of cross-section of Ukrainian society at the end of the Soviet era, throwing a look full of irony and sympathy both at the opportunists and dissidents of the totalitarian time, and at young people who will soon become citizens of an independent country. Almost Saint Senya by Vladyslav Robskyi, ridiculing gender stereotypes, appears as a benefit performance for the outstanding Ukrainian actress Irma Vitovskaya."

    SHIFT Film Forum 2023

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