tapehead | Monday November 11th, 2013
From November 12 to 17, 2013, the 29th Interfilm International Short Film Festival Berlin will present over 500 shorts representing a variety of recent trends in under 20 (minutes, that is) filmmaking. Classic narrative shorts, experimental works and films with social agendas comprise the program. Various permutations of music and image on screen have traditionally formed a pillar of the festival, and this year is no exception.
While the Clip It program (13.11.2013, 23:00 h, Roter Salon; 15.11.2013, 22:00 h, Babylon – Kino 3 ) explores new avenues of setting animation to music (or vice versa?), the Dezibel section (16.11.2013, 18:00 h, Babylon – Kino 3; 17.11.2013, 19:00 h, Roter Salon) is more about musicians and music-making, be it as the subjects of documentaries or as main characters in story-based films. “MeTube: August sings Carmen ‘Habanera'”, screening in Dezibel, is the ultimate user-generated musical fantasy. Nearly a million hits on YouTube, but the sweeping Bizet goes disco sound and fabulous costumes are all the more wonderful in surround sound and larger than life image size.
In terms of bonafide music videos, Interfilm pays tribute to three very influential artists who have left their indelible marks on the art form.
Watch That Man – David Bowie Music Videos 1972-2013 (14.11.2013, 19:00 h, Grüner Salon; 16.11.2013, 23:00 h, Babylon – Kino 2; 17.11.2013, 21:00 h, Passage Kino 1 ) is just that: four decades in 20 iconic clips. All your faves are there, from “Space Oddity” to this year’s “comeback”, “Where Are We Now”, an ode to Bowie’s time in Berlin. The roster of directors Bowie has worked with over the years is impressive: Mick Rock (also known for his spectacular photos of rock’s greats), Uli Edel (a tie-in to his Christiane F. film), 80s clip doyen David Mallett, Gus Van Sant, Mark Romanek, Floria Sigismondi, Roger Michell (yep, the helmer of “Notting Hill” and other Hugh Grant Brit-rom-coms), artist Tony Oursler and the Thin White Duke himself. All the hits and even a few surprises. To get in the mood, here’s “Ashes to Ashes” from 1980. But to truly enjoy “the gift of sound and vision”, do take this opportunity to watch the clips on the big screen.
Countless DVD compilations, festival retrospectives and pages upon pages of analysis later, you’d think everything there is to say has been said about turn-of-the millenium music clip innovators Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry (who incidentally share a bold, playful aesthetic, clients such as Björk and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman in some of their feature film forays). The festival program Singing with A Reason – Storytelling Between Music Video and Short Film (13.11.2013, 18:00 h, Babylon – Kino 3 , 16.11.2013, 22:00 h, Babylon – Kino 3 ) explores how Jonze and Gondry pushed the envelope of music video’s narrative potential. Jonze cashed in on music video’s early 80s aspirations to become a heightened, concentrated form of cinema, transcending such formal boundaries as length (as in the short film “Scenes From the Suburbs” he directed for Arcade Fire, which clocks in at just under half an hour). Gondry, on the other hand, made use of (often) D.I.Y., yet ingenious special effects to playfully address philosphical, existential issues: perception and illusion, simultaneity and levels of reality. It’s not surprising that both Jonze and Gondry move between feature, documentary and music promo with ease and aplomb. In addition to clips spanning Jonze’s and Gobdry’s two decade long careers, the program also features the best Interfilm submissions in the music video category.
Spike Jonze’s first clip, for Sonic Youth’s “100%” (co-directed by Tamra Davis) combines a band performance with documentary-style black and white footage of skaters (featuring future film and TV star Jason Lee). Skateboards, new new Hollywood, it’s already all here in embryonic form.
While it’s a shame that Interfilm discontinued the showcases of German and international music videos of past years, the 2013 festival edition provides interesting insights into the state of the art of music video.
Interfilm – International Short Film Festival Berlin
November 12 to 17, 2013
Venues: Volksbühne (Main Hall, Roter Salon, Grüner Salon), Babylon-Mitte, Central, Passage, Wilhelm-Foerster-Planetarium am Insulaner
Ticket and program information (in English) here