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VENICE 2022 Orizzonti

Venice begins unspooling its healthy batch of short films

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- VENICE 2022: As the festival gets ready to screen its shorts for audiences within the Orizzonti competition, we preview some of the European titles on offer this year

Venice begins unspooling its healthy batch of short films
The Fruit Tree by Isabelle Tollenaere

While the Venice Film Festival’s selection of shorts has a certain brevity when compared to the offerings of other A-listers, such as Cannes and Berlin, there is still much of interest to be found amongst the 12 titles that will screen in competition in Orizzonti. Out of these shorts, there are seven European films that have a slight tinge of the surreal and the dreamlike as they explore issues such as masculinity, sexuality and the world in which we live.

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Since her short film Mountain Cat premiered at Cannes in 2020, the next work from Mongolian filmmaker Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir has been eagerly anticipated. Drawing on some of the themes she explored in her first movie – the perceived naivety of youth and how people can exploit it – yet spinning them off in a completely new direction, Snow in September (Mongolia/France) is a pointed and fragmentary examination of masculinity. After young teenager Davka finds himself in an uncomfortable situation with an older woman, his views on intimacy and his own desires begin to shift. It’s a subtle and clever piece of work that melds the awkwardness of teenage experimentation with sharp ideas of boundaries and expectations.

Lola Halifa-Legrand’s Nocomodo (France) almost feels like a companion piece to Snow in September as a young girl faces the complexity of the adult world, learning about boundaries and when to say no. While there’s a darkness on offer here, there’s also a certain sense of exhilaration as Halifa-Legrand utilises a chaotic style. Both a sly satire on the solipsism and selfishness of the adult world and a paean to the power of a female to deny those who would take advantage of her, it’s a powerful piece of work.

Giulia Grandinetti’s Tria (Italy) also has a dark vein of satire as three girls face the inhumanity of a dystopian Rome of the future. A law states that immigrant families cannot have more than three children. So when their mother gets pregnant, the three sisters know that one of them must die to make way for the new arrival. Playing with genre, the film is a compellingly bitter exploration of an adult world gone wrong.

Everything at Once sees Norwegian director Henrik Dyb Zwart take standard genre tropes and reframe them through the information of the modern day. Utilising multiple perspectives and points of view – often in the same scene – the film demands a great deal of attention. But those who concentrate will be rewarded, as it’s an often exhilarating ride. From a simpler age of information, Manuale di cinematografia per dilettanti - Vol. I (by Federico Di Corato, Italy) sees archive footage from 1927-1942 set to the notes and musings of an amateur filmmaker who reflects on the “right” way to make a movie. What initially seems to be an exercise in whimsy soon morphs into something much deeper, as the film presents us with both an examination of the gaze and power of the cinema lens, and an exploration of a country descending into the throes of fascism.

Isabelle Tollenaere’s The Fruit Tree (Belgium/USA) is a beautiful meditation on how our lives are often determined by the spaces in which we live, as two women explore their new home and reflect upon the place they lived before. With an ending that is ethereal and emotional, it’s a subtle and moving piece of work. Equally moving is Christopher at Sea (by Tom CJ Brown, UK/USA), which is a wonderful animation that focuses on a man travelling to the USA on a cargo ship. Alternating between impressionistic and melancholic colours and eye-popping visuals, it’s a stunning-looking meditation on isolation and desire that is consistently compelling and – ultimately – full of hope.

The full list of shorts screening in competition at this year’s Orizzonti is as follows:

Snow in September - Lkhagvadulam Purev-Ochir (Mongolia)
III - Salomé Villeneuve (Canada)
Manuale di cinematografia per dilettanti vol. I - Federico Di Corato (Italy)
The Fruit Tree - Isabelle Tollenaere (Belgium/USA)
Christopher at Sea - Tom CJ Brown (UK/France)
Tria – Del sentimento del tradire - Giulia Grandinetti (Italy)
My Girlfriend - Kawthar Younis (Egypt)
Please Hold the Line - Tan Ce Ding (Malaysia)
Everything at Once - Henrik Dyb Zwart (Norway)
Nocomodo - Lola Halifa-Legrand (France)
Rutubet - Turan Haste (Turkey)
Love Forever - Clare Young (Australia)

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