Seven Romanian shorts in competition at Bucharest International Dance Film Festival #6

31 August, 2020

The 6th edition of the Bucharest International Film Festival (September 3-6) proposes utopias and dystopias, meaning imagined worlds – some ideal, some rebuilt. The area of possibility is so vast that it almost becomes risqué, and dance film in itself is a very complex endeavor, especially when one takes the short film format into account. The seven Romanian short films in the national competition fit the profile and they even surpass it nonchalantly, just as water droplets that unite into one as they near each other on a glass screen.

The section opens with Opia by Simona Dabija teaches you everything that you need to know about life: that you must fight, that you should know your place, that it’s a risk to move, that it’s your choice, that you can let yourself be influenced by others, be yourself, rely only on yourself, smile and be calm, that the answers you’re looking for won’t immediately appear, that the answer is in front of you. The characters contort to the rhythm of motivational quotes, dictated by an authoritarian voice. They jump, they twist, they turn, they caress the walls, they run through a collapsing building like in this life, in which whatever you do there is a better alternative to it, and in the end, when you draw the line, you still come badly out of it. Opia starts small and develops so well that few dancing characters are satisfied by the end, and the ten minutes create a full-blown dystopia.

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Call of Pink, by a trio of directors (Denisa Anastasiu, Maria-Luiza Dimulescu, Catalin Rugina), starts as a sort of Romanian Black Mirror, and you can almost feel the audience betting on the conclusion all the way to the back, where they’re munching on popcorn while staring intently at the pink skirts of the two contestants: girls that are preparing for a game. But then it stops and begins afresh. A match of tennis lets way to a race up the stairs of an amphitheater while an off-screen voice encourages them to push forward without any clear purpose in sight, however. The game is dance, the dance is a game, the palettes change into ping pong tables and their rivalry never turns into teamwork. They’re both the winners of a very complex and exhausting rehearsal, like in any computer game, like in life itself. Call of Pink is the ten-minute-workout right before the burnout.

Sunless by Corina Andrian separates the head from the body and preoccupies itself only with stretches of skin. How does a headless body dance? Or one without hands or legs? What sensation do you feel when the human disappears and all that is left is a mask made of skin, that is made to look the same on both sides? A very interesting film from a visual point of view, this sunless flick analyzes angles and modulates the body in ways in which undressing seems impossible. What is vulnerability when there is nothing left to lose?, asks the synopsis, a fair-minded and interesting subject to be analyzed, in a film that is like an art installation.

Études From an Inner Garden by Gal Orsolya is a project that was created as a part of the “Collider” artistic residence, and starts from a mapping of an apartment and then moves on to plants that are knocking on the windows or walls, into cloth, or under a sheet of paper. Depends on how you look at it. With white noise and muted music, you never really can tell if you’re inside or outside of a space. You don’t even know if the plants, with their continuous need for growth and oxygen, are struggling to get in or out. It’s clear however that life is not on the inside. The sketches are a superb visual exercise in which only plants are dancing.

Memory of a kneaded touch by Daniel Alexandru Dragomir undresses boys’ and girls‘ upper torsos and unites, unifies, uniformizes them in a dance about the need to touch and be touched. It begins with dirty hands which spread darkness across their bodies as their touches become increasingly passionate. The synopsis talks about the reticence that certain societies hold towards touching, and about how a necessary and common action can become a taboo. The voyeur spectator, who is thrust in the middle of these bodies out of control, only stays with the dance, however.

Ausum, directed by Alin Duruian, which centers on a relationship that unfurls in the staircase of a high-rise building, on its steps and on its roof, with glimmers passed between him and her and back again, hands clutching in the sunrise seen from the rooftop. Ausum feels like an exercise that only sometimes manages to tell a story through the bodies of the characters and their movements. In dance films, when the language of the body disappears and, instead of featuring meanings and emotion, the images capture well-executed dance movements, it means that you might be lost in translation. Even so, Ausum is a notable debut, remarkable in its courage and the possibility of using a banal staircase in two.

Smaranda Gabudeanu’s inHABITED_ The Attic seems to ask if one’s transformation into a feline has more to do with one’s own pussy or with the loneliness of spending time in a space that you gradually get to discover until you get to feel its every nook and cranny. The cat, an animal capable of sincere and utter self-idolization plays you with her eyes and tongue, with an effect that no single bark of a dog can obtain. The story behind inHABITED is a long and satisfactory purr that is a little over five minutes long.

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The Romanian competition, titled Mazes & Gazes, will screen on the 5th of September, at the Peasant Museum Cinema. The festival’s entire program can be checked out here: http://www.bidff.ro/eng#schedule

 

Crăița Nanu Crăița Nanu
Screenwriter and festival reporter. She writes about movies on vice.ro, TIFF blog, Dilema Veche, Scena 9 and other publications.