BIEFF 2021: The identity of the human being

15 November, 2021

The 11th edition of the Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival (BIEFF) will take place between November 17-21 and brings to the public the most appreciated cinematic experiments of the year, films that won the most important awards at European festivals.

“Are we human?” is the theme of this year’s edition. Through its extensive program of screenings, installations and debates, BIEFF seeks to find, together with the public, the answer to this question and invites the spectators to reflect on this paramount topic – the identity of the human being.

“We, as human beings, insist on asserting our power over others by denying singular or collective experiences and identities in the name of ephemeral constructs such as borders, race, gender, religious beliefs, national identities, and/or economic status. Which begs the question: what does it mean to be human today?,” points out Oana Ghera, the festival’s artistic director.

Opening the festival is Leos Carax’s highly praised film, Annette, winner of the Director’s Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, which continues to divide the audiences ever since its world premiere.

A Night of Knowing Nothing (dir. Payal Kapadia), distinguished with the L’Oeil d’or Award for best documentary at Cannes 2021, will be presented in national premiere on Thursday, November 18. The film creates “a vivid portrait of revolt and oppression, love and pain and philosophical thinking threatened by the nationalist agenda”. (IndieWire)

Another must-see title on the big screen at BIEFF is The Tsugua Diaries. The cinematic experiment signed by Maureen Fazenfeiro and Miguel Gomes is constructed as “a reverse journal of the daily events of three self-isolated friends, during the month of August on a spacious farm”. The film was presented in the independent section Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at Cannes 2021.

This year’s film selection brings into focus stories that explore key issues such as breaking down gender stereotypes, the politics of the public and the private, the political power of language, society’s relation to work, or people’s need for affection and interaction.

Golden Shorts: Best Films in Major Festivals

The five short films in this program celebrate the thematic and stylistic variety of contemporary cinema and the formal inventiveness of the new generation of filmmakers. These outstanding productions are among the award-winning titles at some of the biggest cinematographic events in the world (Berlinale, Oberhausen, Rotterdam, Locarno and Venice) in 2021 and are presented at BIEFF in partnership with them.

My Uncle Tudor (dir. Olga Lucovnicova) – winner of the Golden Bear for Best Short Film at the Berlinale. In a brave documentary, the director returns to the places she grew up in to confront her uncle who abused her as a child.

Transparent I Am (dir. Yuri Muraoka) – the artist shares “some of the darkest and most intimate thoughts she experiences, combining innovative cinematic techniques”. The film was awarded the Grand Prize at the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival.

The Bones (dir. Cristobal León and Joaquín Cociña) – the Chilean artists reimagine the creative process behind the first stop-motion animation in history.

The Creature (dir. Maria Silvia Esteve) – winner of the Golden Leopard for the best author’s short film at the Locarno International Film Festival. The film “accompanies us on a journey to «what hurts», putting us face to face with this creature from the depths of our minds that is pain”.

Maat Means Land (dir. Fox Maxy) – winner of the Ammodo Tiger Short at the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Built as a collage, the film challenges and boldly breaks the rules of cinematography, juggling with activist and political meanings.

International Competition

Organized in 7 curatorial themes, the 34 short films from 20 countries selected in the International Competition invite us to explore “new perspectives on human nature and aspects that define our identity as people in an ever-changing world.”

The selection is signed by Oana Ghera, the artistic director of the festival, and Flavia Dima, associated curator, and explores themes such as the need for human connection, alienation and dehumanization, the manner in which we relate to work and productivity, and the impact of human activities on the world we live in.

The Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival will be held between 17-21 November at Cinema Elvire Popesco, Cinemateca Eforie and the National Art Museum of Romania (Auditorium Hall). For more details, visit the BIEFF website or their Facebook page.

Writer, photographer and videographer. For Films in Frame she writes news about the latest happenings in the film world and brings to the readers' attention the productions that can be seen at the cinema. When she's not writing articles, she's photographing people in a small studio or searching for new cake recipes.