There might be two interconnected tendencies that strike the eye at this year’s selection of Slovenian shorts: on the one hand, the scarce representation of professional production and, on the other, the boom of experimental films, which represent over a half of the FeKK SLO section.
In their imagination, lyricism, and the use and exploration of the film language, a number of the selected experimental films often even surpass the institutionally supported production. The latter comprises chiefly of features, limited also by an inflexible narrative structure and formal rigidity. Predominantly in the service of the plot, the films rely more than on (social) reality on the exhausted recommendations of the screenwriting manuals. Few of them display originality in the framing techniques, long take usage, resulting in the lack of playfulness and awareness that the film as a language can be bent and that it is not separated from the content but is itself its key ingredient.
Moreover, it is hard to overlook their tendency to be full-length films. This is evident from the outspread scripts that reveal that they have been shortened or altered in order to fit the format or the production requirements of a short.
Some of them have addressed the socially significant topics (immigration centres, emancipation of women, Islam, family trauma, environmental issues, horizontal social models, etc) but these were in general treated in a biased, almost pamphlet-manner, meaning that they did not observe the media and its prescription of a certain amount of openness in its creation. We do not wish the films to exploit the viewers’ emotions towards the difficult topic and so sway them into a comfortable criticism of the common place, in which everyone forms the smallest common denominator of mutual agreement. And this is where the experimental films come in; with their openness, which can sometimes confuse the viewers and, above all, lets them have their own opinion. These are the films that do not answer questions for us but themselves function as a question.
The fact that the experimental wave is the predominance in this year’s selection is not entirely random. Since its beginning, FeKK has been favourably inclined towards the original, playful, and experimental production because we see it as the exciting field that expands the definition of film art and gradually brings new approaches into the mainstream. The prevalence of the experimental film, however, does not mean that the programme does not include also the representatives of more ‘conventional’ genres which, each in its way, surpass the aforementioned tendencies.
It is important to stress that this year’s boom includes more than authors who create solely experimental films. There may not be many films by the academies or art schools but that does not imply that their students are not represented. On the contrary: they are present with their experimental works (often independent from the academy). If, then, on one side we have authors who have been mainly focusing on the experimental, there are, on the other side, also plenty of those who ventured into it after having filmed features and who are fluent in the film language. Among these we mainly find personal, poetical vignettes, which, with their openness, associativeness, and ludism, divide the grandmother cell and send us somewhere into the stratosphere.
If it appears that these films foreground the intimate and that the social is somewhere in the indefinite exterior of the shot, we can on the contrary see the phenomenon of social mechanisms precisely through the narration of the intimate: as the comprehension of a character’s attitude towards his or her own intimacy and the imperatives, questions, and antagonisms which arise from it. And exactly at the moment, when the expression of intimacy reveals a note of social or the ideological demands, the films acquire a sence of political.
If the Slovene short film sometimes lacks greater social embedding, a reflection or an invasion of a broader context that the individual inhabits, we have to avoid the obvious trap for the demand of (social)political content to become the prevailing measure of film selection. In other words: the political content has to be recognised even in the seemingly larpurlartistic and absurd experiments that represent the glitch or the cut in the automated perception of the (film) language and broaden the borders of its abilities. And which, in that respect, give way to wonder in the best possible manner. Wondering, perhaps even lack of understanding, the consequence of finding ourselves in a language that is not (yet) ours (and perhaps never will be) is, after all the experience that shifts us. It moves us (at least in the context of a film) from a comfortable position of a comprehensible centre to the peripheral experience of the foreign.
Matevž Jerman, Robert Kuret