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Ones to Watch: 2017 Berlinale Shorts Program

Ones to Watch: 2017 Berlinale Shorts Program

As Europe continues to rival the United States as a region for uncovering new film talent, Berlin is emerging as ground zero. The Berlin International Film Festival, aka Berlinale, frames this better than most film festivals in Europe with its annual Berlinale Shorts Program, which alongside the week-long Berlinale Talent Campus, is a magnet for new filmmakers and those who follow them.

The 2017 shorts program will be held between February 9-19 and see 23 films from 19 countries compete for the Golden and the Silver Bear as well as the Audi Short Film Award, worth € 20,000, and a nomination for the European Film Awards.

The unique program, with the 2017 theme “Reframing The Image”, has always celebrated new and distinct voices, but this year includes many documentary shorts, likely a reflection of the tumultuous times where fact is often more revealing than fiction.

“A preconceived image, a clichéd notion of something or someone, can only alter its form if my own view of things expands to include a new perspective,” said curator Maike Mia Höhne.  “All of the films selected for Berlinale Shorts 2017 have in common the fact that they invite one to recalibrate one’s own perception.”

The International Short Film Jury 2017 includes Christian Jankowski, artist and professor at the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design, Kimberly Drew, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Carlos Núñez, the artistic director of SANFIC Santiago International Film Festival.

New Machine Magazine’s editors have selected 7 emerging directors to watch as part of the short film program screening at Berlinale this year.

From left, clockwise, Salomé Lamas, Diogo Costa Amarante, Patrick Bresnan, Esteban Arrangoiz, Gabriel Abrantes, Jonathan Vinel and João Salaviza


João Salaviza

Palme d’Or-winning Portuguese editor and director João Salaviza is world premiering his new short Altas Cidades de Ossadas. In 2009 he won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for Arena followed by winning the the Golden Bear for Best Short Film for Rafa in 2012. Salaviza made his feature directorial debut with the film Montanha (2015), which screened at the Venice Film Festival. Born into a filmmaking family, Salaviza studied at the Lisbon Theatre and Film School and at the Universidad del Cine de Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Altas Cidades de Ossadas – 19 minutes, Portugal

Synopsis: Follows a Creole rapper on a deep dive into the darkness of night and the aggressive poetry of his lyrics.

Diogo Costa Amarante

Portuguese filmmaker Diogo Costa Amarante screens his highly-anticipated documentary short Small Town. Amarante is a well-regarded young filmmaker who is fast gaining a solid reputation, both in Portugal as well as the United States. A graduate of NYU’s Tisch school, he has won multiple film festival awards, principally in Europe. Some of his major achievements include the Golden Egg award at the Reykjavik International Film Festival in 2007 for his short Jumate/Jumate. In recent years his short Down Here earned Amarante nominations at Torino and Sofia film festivals and the important Jury Award at the Barcelona International Film Festival in 2012. He has been nominated at Berlinale before, for White Roses in 2014, which also won the European Grand Prix Award at the Brest European Short Film Festival that year. Amarante splits his time between Lisbon and New York and is a recent participant of the Berlinale Talent Campus.

Cidade Pequena (Small Town) – 19 Minutes, Portugal

Synopsis: In September the child Frederico learns from his teacher that if the heart stops, people die.

Visit Diogo Costo Amarnate on Facebook.

Salomé Lamas

Salomé Lamas is a Portuguese documentarian returning to Berlinale this year. Her works, both short films and visual art, blend documentary with loose scripts and characters in a way that raises questions and presents worlds, characters and stories that are often unfamiliar to audiences. Lamas is premiering her new short Coup de Grâce in competition. She has scored important awards for her previous short films such as the Andorinha Trophy at the Cineport – Portuguese Film Festival, a Press Award Honorable Mention at the Coimbra Caminhos do Cinema Português, a New Talent Award at the IndieLisboa International Independent Film Festival and the Doclisboa International Film Festival Restart Award, Liscont Award, Jameson Award and Lusófona University Public Award at the Doclisboa International Film Festival for Terra de ninguém in 2012. Most notably, Lamas has been nominated 4 years in a row at the prestigious Portuguese Sophia Awards. She studied film at the Escola Superior de Teatro e Cinema (ESTC) in Lisbon and at the Academy of the Performing Arts (FAMU) in Prague. She then went on to earn an MFA from the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam.

Coup de Grâce – 25 minutes, Portugal.

Synopsis: Leonor returns from a trip on a day where her dad wasn’t expecting her. In twenty-four hours they will live a crescendoing hallucinated reality, led by Francisco’s unsettling state of apparent normality.

Follow Salomé Lamas on Twitter.

Patrick Bresnan

Documentarian Patrick Bresnan made an impression last year with The Send-Off, a touching documentary short that follows a group of high school students in a small town near Miami during the lead up to prom night. The short, which he co-directed with Ivete Lucas, won awards at the San Francisco International Film Festival and the SXSW Film Festival. Bresnan is screening his new documentary short The Rabbit Hunt, which had its world premiere at Sundance earlier this month.

The Rabbit Hunt – 12 minutes, USA / Hungary, 12

Synopsis: Every weekend, seventeen year old Chris and his family hunt rabbits during sugarcane field burning and harvesting in the Florida Everglades.

Visit The Rabbit Hunt page on Facebook.

Esteban Arrangoiz

The documentary El Buzo established Esteban Arrangoiz as a filmmaker to watch. His 2015 short was nominated in nearly 15 major international film festivals including Berlin, Cartegena, Madrid and Monterey in Mexico. In 2017, Arrangoiz has the world premiere of his latest documentary short Ensueño en la Pradera (Reverie in the Meadow) in Berlin. He was born in Mexico City and studied media in Australia and film back at UNAM in Mexico City. He is an alumni of the Berlinale Talent Campus.

Ensueño en la Pradera (Reverie in the Meadow) – 17 minutes, Mexico.

Synopsis: Dream at the Prairie is a film essay where non-fiction and fiction conjugate conscientiously, to try to register a truth about the violence that exists in Mexico in regards to extortion.

Follow Esteban Arrangoiz on Twitter.

Jonathan Vinel

Jonathan Vinel’s new short Martin Pleure (Martin Cries) is having its world premiere screening at Berlinale. Vinel won the Golden Berlin Bear for Best Short at the 2016 Berlinale for Tant qu’il nous reste des fusils à pompe and in 2014 was nominated for the same prize last year for Notre héritage. Born in France, his films often blend live action and video game sequences, Vinel often works with co-director Caroline Poggi.

Martin Pleure (Martin Cries) – 16 minutes, France

Synopsis: Imagine that one day you woke up and all your friends disappeared. Your friends who must be there are no longer so. So you look. You’re looking everywhere. In every hiding place, in every corner of the city. In all the ponds, all the rivers. You look but you do not find them.

Gabriel Abrantes

The Artificial Humors from Portuguese documentary filmmaker Gabriel Abrantes has its world Premiere at Berlinale. Abrantes most recent documentary short A Brief History of Princess X scored nominations at Toronto and Milan Film Festivals. All up, his documentary shorts have earned numerous nominations and significant wins, including at Berlin International Film Festival and at Ann Arbor Film Festivals.

The Artificial Humors – 30 minutes, Portugal

Synopsis: Mixing a certain Hollywood aesthetic with typical documentary approaches, the film tells the story of an indigenous comedian joining a robot and gaining fame in the Brazilian mass cultural industry. The work, of an unusual nature, calls into question the humorous habits of various indigenous groups in contrast to progress and artificial intelligence.