Next Generation Short Tiger 2016

NEXT GENERATION SHORT TIGER 2016 has twelve superb short films in its collection from Germany.

Samuel Pleitner’s GERM-FREE is a delightful comedy set fifty-three billion kilometres from Earth in an ultramodern science lab, where humans try to rebuild Earth using air contained in a flask. Cue Assistant (Andreas Schmidt) — Germany’s answer to Frank Spencer. Simple, fun, a pleasure to watch.

EYE FOR AN EYE is about contrasts. The pleasant pencil-drawn animation, conjuring up memories of childhood, clashes beautifully with the dialogue. Sir Trevor McDonald, a British national treasure, interviews the Indiana State prisoner Frederick Baer. It starts simply enough with Frederick discussing his childhood. Even in the beginning, the contrast is visible: Frederick says, ‘Life was okay,’ on screen a gentle image of a boy running, followed with, ‘It was rough,’ and an image of him as a man in handcuffs. McDonald, unseen in the animation, asks what Frederick did to be sentenced to death row. It’s then that shivers race around your body, as a sane-sounding man tells of a horrific crime. Directors Steve Bache, Mahyar Goudarzi and Louise Peter have achieved great heights, making the audience unable to look away.

Matthias Koflmehl’s delicate film SWEEPER’S PRIDE, shot in black and white without dialogue, is about a street sweeper walking by a window of a photography exhibition where he sees himself, captured on camera.

AMOUR FOU has a splendid title sequence, resembling the animated titles of Steven Spielberg’s CATCH ME IF YOU CAN (2002). And trying not to get caught is the theme of this jolly animated short. Spectacular to look at, the computer-generated imagery is rich, silky and confident. Paris appears as attractive as it does in the real world. Director Florian Werzinski’s film is about a man slipping into the Louvre, stealing the Mona Lisa and avoiding the police at all costs. A roller coaster ride of a film!

The pick of the bunch is Christian Wittmoser’s claustrophobic war impacted EMILY MUST WAIT. The opening shot is a bird’s eye view of a small studio flat, like the floor plan of a house. Think Lars von Trier’s DOGVILLE (2003); but where that showed the actors’ faces in close up shots, Wittmoser dares to keep the aerial shot for the entire film. In a German city, war has started. Emily waits for her boyfriend to collect her… and she waits… and she waits. All the time she attempts to occupy herself. The narrative shows us Emily’s struggle through her actions, as she tries to maintain a normal life by washing clothes, bathing, making food; yet the genius of this film is that the narrative tells the story through sound effects. Wittmoser’s film would make a lovely double bill with Adam Tyler’s magnificent REFUGEE, which is part of the NOSTALGIA? short film strand playing at the festival. EMILY MUST WAIT is inventive, harrowing, well told, and marvellously directed.

Jessica Dürwald’s EAT MY DREAM may turn you vegetarian. It’s about the fish packing industry. The camera follows fish, still gasping, as they’re slung onto a conveyor belt, knifed, gutted and washed. Red is prevalent in almost every image: the shine of the gloves worn by the workers; the river of blood that the fish are cleaned in, boils like lava; the insides of the fish; and the remaining sludge when the day is over. The most thought-provoking image is that the fish appear to be swimming upstream, even though they’re dead and on a conveyor belt. The harsh visuals are juxtaposed with the sweetest piano music blinking along in the background. A smart film, well crafted by a skilful director.

PIANOID is a scratchy animated film in the vein of Bob Godfrey’s 1980s cartoon HENRY’S CAT. Janina Putzker has made a great film about a talented musician who cannot become a superstar, who’s trumped by his bunny walking across his keyboard and becoming a YouTube sensation. Putzker pokes fun at modern society’s habit of celebrating reality TV stars over genuine talent. A fantastic film.

ERIC THE SOLDIER is grainy black and white film about Eric, a proud German sailor and his views on Germany and the navy. Directed by Charlotte Funke.

Another black and white film without dialogue in this collection is CHAY, from Charlotte Rolfes. Chay is a young man coping with the loss of his father.

In WHAT HAPPENS IN YOUR BRAIN IF YOU SEE A GERMAN WORD LIKE…?, Zora Rux asks what happens when your brain reads a long German word. Morphing between live action and animation, this unusual film bleeds one image into another, making the audience second-guess what they’re seeing and what will come next. And all the time in the background, the same word is repeated. The effect is hypnotic.

Mingus Ballhaus’s PRINCE ALFRED makes one pine for one’s childhood. In this wonderfully imaginative story of a normal boy playing a chivalrous knight, Enrico Csonka is ‘Prince Alfred’, living in his two-bedroom flat that he pretends is a castle. A narrator gives us the story of Alfred’s imagination. His scooter is a noble steed, the postman an adversary, his bed a four-poster fit for a king.

An amusing, absurd short by Daniel Nocke is WHO WILL PAY THE BILL? In a television studio, much like BBC’s ‘Question Time’, five figures, dressed in business clothes, sit on comfortable chairs, facing the cameras and audience, debating a topic. What is different about this is, they have animal heads: lion, tiger, zebra, etc. The topic discussed: who should pay the tax for killing the prey? Memories of the TV satire SPITTING IMAGE come to mind when watching this, and Nocke’s film is just as funny.


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