MIFF 68½ – Documentary Shorts (presented by Abercrombie & Kent)

3 Logical Exits (2020)

3 Logical Exits (2020)

Directed, photographed & produced by Mahdi Fleifel

A bleak look at the prospects of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. The Danish-Palestinian director grew up in one of these camps, and returns here to visit Reda, a 29-year-old man he has interviewed sporadically since the age of 10 (and has been in a camp since he was 13). The contrast of older colour footage with modern B&W footage emphasises the bleakness of Reda’s prospects, as the situation has worsened in the past 3 years. The director also talks to a refugee worker about the “3 logical exits” available to refugees (drugs, joining a faction, fleeing the country) and we learn from Reda which option he’s preparing to take.

All Cats Are Grey in the Dark [Nachts sind alle Katzen grau] (2019)

Directed by Lasse Linder

Follows a period in the life of cat dad Christian and his two fluffy grey cats, Marmelade and Katjuscha. The cats are pretty relaxed and accompany Christian on his shoulders wherever he goes. There are some cute shots of Christian spinning the cats around in a shopping trolley, and sitting with them in a ski lodge listening to some tacky techno. Marmelade comes into heat at the beginning, so Christian drives her to a home with a tom cat and shares a wordless cup of tea with the other cat’s companion while their “children” go at it. The final section follows Christian as he takes Marmelade for an ultrasound, pampers her through pregnancy, ensures that Katjuscha doesn’t feel neglected, and greets the new kittens as a proud grandparent.

Birds of Paradise [Les Oiseaux du Paradis] (2019)

Written, directed & produced by Aline Suter (cinematographer) & Céline Carridroit (editor)

A heterosexual woman tells the story of her life with HIV via photograph albums, home movie footage and extracts from old nature documentaries featuring the flora and birdlife of Guadalupe. Her journey begins with infection by her partner when it was believed to be a homosexual-exclusive disease and moves on through his death, her remarriage, the birth of a disease-free daughter, and passing the threshold of full-blown infection before culminating in her successful treatment.

Playback [Ensayo de una Despedida] (2019)

Written, directed & narrated by Agustina Comedi (aka La Delpi)

A personal reminiscence of the Argentinean drag scene and those who didn’t survive the AIDS crisis, using footage of the era to celebrate the good times and pay homage to those lost. The director was a performer within the scene and provides her personal reminiscences, with particular focus on one of the people who didn’t make it through.

Sky Aelans (2020)

Directed by Daniel Kakadi (cinematographer), Neil Nuia (co-producer), Mannar Levo (cinematographer), Junior Patrick Kauha Makau (cinematographer), Zahiyd Namo (cinematographer), Regina Lepping, Jeremy Gwao, Georgianna Lepping & Edward Manuga

A direct plea from Indigenous Solomon Islanders for the preservation of their ecosystem, sacred sites and way of life. A concisely edited showcase of their flora and fauna, the beauties of their natural environment, the spiritual significance of the mountain regions, their village life and connection to the land, all within 6 minutes. Accompanied by a combination of field recordings, original score and traditional music.

Umbilical (2019)

Directed & produced by Danski Tang

An animated film about surviving abuse. Cells divide in the initial stages of life and streams of red combine to form an umbilical cord, representing the bond between mother and daughter. Over these images, the director recalls her father beating her mother. The conversation turns to the Danski’s experiences at school, accompanied by expressionistic depictions of her sense of dislocation, disorientation and disempowerment. Despite the subject matter, the conversation is natural, open and friendly, indicating that she and her mother have been able to heal and move forward.

Up at Night [Nuit Debout] (2019)

Written & directed by Nelson Makengo

Documents the struggles of a community within the Democratic Republic of the Congo to generate light during an extended period without electricity, thanks to the depredations of local gangs destroying electrical cables which the community members can’t afford to repair. Told in an experimental style using three side-by-side camera images in mostly dark environments, with each new light source providing a glow which takes up most of the image but reveals little else. While this is an effective method of conveying the experience of living through those events, I could discern so little of what was happening within the squashed images that I couldn’t connect with the material. Hopefully this experience would be different on a cinema screen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s