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LIFF’s highlights from the 38th Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival

(By Molly Cowderoy, Short Film City Manager, & Caroline Döring, Film Festivals Coordinator) The Short Film City team went to Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, where we feasted on short films (and pastries) to our hearts’ content. We were delighted to see a number of films from LIFF29 screening in the International Competition, including Madam Black, Edmond, Manoman, Under The Sun, In the Distance, The Master and A Documentary Film. LIFF29 audience favourite Madam Black continued its festival success by once again winning the celebrated audience award, and we were overjoyed to finally meet the director Ivan Barge and the taxidermy star of the film in her frilly nighty.

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Each day we watched the International Competition in the lavish auditorium in the Maison de la Culture, where we joined the eager queue up to an hour before the screening to secure a seat. Despite a capacity of over 1000, the venue filled up in minutes with late comers being turned away. The atmosphere was amazing, every film was followed by rapturous applause and the lights came up to allow audiences to frantically write notes in their festival catalogue.  A whopping seventy-nine films screened in the International Competition, made up of live action, animation and documentary shorts. Here are just a few of our favourites:

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Amazonas
(Carlos Piñeiro, Bolivia, 2015, 14 min)
A man trying to travel to Brazil from the Andes is tricked by traffickers and remains trapped at the border; forced to work in a laundry shop whilst they keep his passport. The long days seem never ending and his captivity reveals to him the true value of freedom. A nerve wracking watch as claustrophobic shots transport you into this harsh world of heat and sweat.

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The Bathtub
(Tim Ellrich, Germany/ Austria, 2015, 13 min)
A short film that proves just how much can be done on a tight budget; The Bathtub is set within the confines of a tiny bathroom and is filmed from a locked off shot. Three adult brothers attempt to re-create a childhood photo of themselves in the bath for their mother’s birthday. As the men strip down to their underwear, squabble and ridicule each other, it’s obvious that they’re still big kids at heart.

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El Hueco
(Dir: Germán Tejada, Daniel Martin Rodriguez, Peru, 2015, 14 min)
Until death do us part? That’s clearly not long enough for the hero of this hilariously tragic short film, a man obsessed with his beloved one’s grave. But when he has finally saved up enough money to buy the last resting place next to her, a young gentleman is buried in the grounds before him. And what comes with ever-lasting love? Jealousy that lasts even longer. Black humour at its best!

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Ferris Wheel
(Phuttiphong Aroonphen, Thailand, 2015, 24 min)
A mother and son leave Myanmar in hopes for a better life in Thailand. But what lies across the border are big lessons in discrimination depicted in seemingly small injustices. Through a series of bizarre events the two end up at a ramshackle theme park. On the Ferris wheel we cut to the faces of many who have gone their way before. A thought provoking and powerful look at the injustices that face those who are considered outcasts from society.

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Fuel to Fire
(Dir: Sam McMullen, United Kingdom, 2015, 26min)
A modern, dark spin on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – but without the lovers. A bitter blood feud divides two families in a remote British seaside town. Given the chance, will the new generation overcome old prejudices? Between all the dirt and resentment, this poetically told short film keeps our hopes up but just as in Shakespeare’s drama, it might be in vain.

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Homebodies
(Yianni Warnock, Australia, 2015, 15 min)
A suburban housewife makes a dirty call to a stranger on the Internet. Unknowingly her husband wraps himself in fairy lights and sits in the bathtub upstairs. As the two try to escape their banal lives, the power cuts out and they are comically brought together again. A film that had the audience in fits of laughter.

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Lost Village
(George Todria, Spain/ Georgia, 2015, 15 min)
A couple living alone at the top of a hill overlook a seemingly abandoned village. Each night, lights eerily shine out of the empty houses. As the nights pass and the tension builds, they both react to the phenomenon differently. A film that is both ominously frightening and visually striking.

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The Manliest Man
(Dir: Anuj Gulati, India, 2015, 24 min)
The plot of this Indian short film seems so absurd it would make you laugh – if it wasn’t for the very real chance that a similar drama is happening somewhere right now. When a young couple’s second child turns out to be another daughter, the village chief publicly calls on his neighbours to father a son for the “ill-starred” family.

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 The Return of Erkin
(Maria Guskova, Russia/ Kirgyzstan , 2015, 28 min)
This thoughtful film about guilt and acceptance stayed with me long after the screening. Erkin returns to his village after being released from jail, but is not met with the welcome he was hoping for. Back home, he struggles to live as a free man, all the while trying to seek forgiveness from the family of the man he killed.

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Thanks for Dancing
(Dir: Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken, Norway, 2016, 19 min)
This slow paced, poignant Norwegian drama shows the last days that an elderly gay couple spend together. Thanks to its careful direction and understated acting, Thanks For Dancing is a beautiful, moving reminder of what really counts in life without ever becoming clichéd.

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