250 films in 7 days

Short Waves Festival takes off on 14 June. The leitmotif of the thirteenth edition is "Mirror Mirror".

The composition of nine pictures from various films - grafika artykułu
The Polish Experimental Film Competition, photograph from the press

Short Waves is going hybrid again. "We tried this last year, it worked and we want to stick with it. This is our priority", says Festival Director Emila Mazik. "We have therefore adopted "Mirror Mirror' to be our event's slogan". "The slogan reflects our duality, our immersion in both the virtual and real world. The mirror serves as a metaphor for how we project our identity in the world, how the Internet affects our interpersonal relations, and how the aesthetic of the Internet affects the aesthetic of cinema. All these threads intertwine in the focus programme and return in the industry and education programmes, which we have prepared for different age groups", she continues. "The online/offline dualism has become our key narrative axis."

The formula allows visitors from outside of Poznan to take part. The festival pass comes with an added benefit: full access to the This Is Short website with shorts from the 13th edition of Short Waves. "The site is up and running (available from 1 April to 30 June: editor's note). We have thousands of viewers from around the world," says Mazik. Note though that the live events won't be shown simultaneously on the web. "Such duplication does not work. Some live performances don't look all that good online. We have picked some 70 of the total of 250 shorts," he adds. This Is Short is a joint initiative of four international short film festivals. In addition to Short Waves, the projects involve Go Short (the Netherlands), International Short Film Festival Oberhausen (Germany) and Vienna Shorts (Austria). The website offers access to the individual programmes of each of them.

Short and to the point

Short Waves Festival comprises over 70 events held in Poznan's urban space. Needless to say, the key showings are those of competition screenings, which are sets of short films grouped in the five categories of the International Competition, the Polish Competition, Dances with Camera, Urban View and, for the second time this year, the Polish Experimental Film Competition. Can you tell some of them were made during the pandemic? "These are unique films, mostly video diaries", says Mazik. "The majority fall into the Urban View competition and portray the city. That's where covid has made its biggest mark", she adds. "The camera simply records what happens outside the window," she continues. She admits that they were looking for titles that depicted the pandemic in a nuanced manner. "Pandemic films are more boring than the pandemic itself - everyone knows what it's been like. Having said that, we also have productions which make it clear that the pandemic was there when the footage was shot from a window or compiled from Instagram coverage," she explains. She believes it is only natural for the lockdown experience to be reflected on film. "We have prepared one set that addresses the new spirituality, an attempt to escape from the pandemic reality. However, we think that our viewers miss the beauty of the world. Although we can't travel, we have received films from over 30 countries. Seeing them will transport one around on a super tour", she continues. "Some footage inevitably shows people in masks".

The festival's programme comprises over 250 films (including nearly 88 competition entries) as well as meetings with filmmakers. "We expect scores of guests from Poland, but not only", reveals Mazik. The jurors include film director Marta Prus and Artistic Director of the Polish Film Festival in Gdynia Tomasz Kolankiewicz. Viewers will get a chance to watch productions from Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Italy, the United States, Canada, Egypt, Russia, Ukraine, Armenia, Vietnam, China and beyond as well as an astounding 28 short films from Poland.

In a swimming pool and a garden

The Short Waves additionally features films classified thematically as Comedy, Horror and Kinky Shorts and placed into the focus programme, the industry segment, and audio-visual and musical events. The films will be shown with subtitles in Polish and English. "In total, we have close to PLN 50,000's worth of prizes, which makes us very happy", she notes.

Any must-see recommendations? With so many films on offer, can any specific title be recommended? "The thing with short films is that it's easier to talk about programmes than it is about individual productions," explains the director. "I am inclined to recommend films from the Austrian film segment. The Director of Diagonale (Peter Schernhuber: editor's note), which is Austria's top film festival, has prepared two film collections to be viewed online and in the Muza cinema. These are superb productions", encourages Mazik. "I can recommend them blindly".

This won't be the first time Short Waves venture outside of screening rooms. The plan includes open-air showings and screenings in clubs, art galleries, theatres and four private gardens as part of Random Garden Cinema. "We have a record number of outdoor venues. These include the Castle Courtyard and the Art Harbour in Concordia Design", says Mazik. "Don't miss our horror short showings in the former swimming pool in the Grunwald district. This will be an atmospheric event for horror movie fans", she announces. "All day long, films will be shown in the Poznań's studio cinemas of Rialto, Muza and Pałacowe.

Monika Nawrocka-Leśnik

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

Short Waves Festival

14-20 June

Poznan and online on thisisshort.com

© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2021

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