ÉCU 2024 European Dramatic Short 

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This year for the European Dramatic Short Selection we were presented with nine incredible shorts films. Each director of this selection has interpreted the category in their own personal way, portraying a great variation of stories and themes. We may say that the only thing these films have in common is the talent of their creators.

The high quality of this year’s participants is confirmed by the awards that were given within this category. During our Festival, we were able to get to know stories based on real events and films created by the best independent directors and screenwriters.

Our first contestant was Mångata by Maja Costa released in 2023. The story of this fifteen-minute-long film from Germany is divided between past and present, connected by Mangata, a Swedish word that refers to the reflection of the moon on the water. This “road to the moon” will help the protagonist to find the right way and save her life not once, but two times. It is the touching story of a young woman that makes it to a bright future also thanks to her past, that she brings with her and will help her in unexpected ways.

Mångata by Maja Costa, 2023

Afterwards, we were able to see The First, directed by the Russian Yuriy Mezhevich in 2023. This film takes us to 1934 Russia, right after the Red Terror. It’s based on true stories narrated through the life of the film’s protagonist, Mitrofan Nikitin, forced to live the disillusion caused by the betrayed promises of the political party. Yuriy Mezhevic shows us the slow change of Mitrofan’s opinion, from supporting the Revolution to admitting its failure.

The first by the Russian Yuriy Mezhevich, 2023

This year we also had the pleasure to receive They Call Me Chino from Spain, released in 2023. This seventy-minute-long film follows the story of Chino, a young man who would want to escape from his current reality because of events of his past. Thanks to his masterful interpretation, Manel LLunel, who plays Chino, won the Best Actor award in this edition of the festival. Director Jesús Rivera paid particular attention to the light: at the beginning of the film, we can see Chino walking out from a dark tunnel, but as soon as he’s surrounded again by the light, he is still lost. Even the lighter which he uses for his cigarettes does not seem to give him certainty by not functioning. At the end of the film, when the day is over and the sky becomes dark, Chino finally manages to light his last cigarette creating an opposition between light and shadow, which is reflected in the life of the protagonist.

They call me Chino by Jesús Rivera, 2023

In the following eighteen-minute-long film we get to know a son that wants to fulfill his father’s last wish: to be cremated like a Viking. This Is Not Norway is a two-handed work by the Spanish directors Alicia Albares and Paco Cavero that went out in 2023. They tell us a bittersweet story about the struggles that an entire family must face after a loss. Jorge, interpreted by Jordi Aguilar, is facing a difficult moment of his life, and his father’s death just happens to be the “tipping point” as he confesses to his brother. This tragicomic short makes us reflect through a shrewd irony on the effects of a loss, but also touches some broader topics like depression, workaholism and fear of solitude.

This is not Norway by Alicia Albares and Paco Cavero, 2023

We continued with a collaborative project, Edifice 129. It was born with the beginning of the Pandemic of Covid from four polyhedric artists, Kaz Anstee, Linda Gasser, Jürgen Heimüller and Kenneth Scicluna who filmed across the different countries they were in without ever meeting in real life and then released the film in 2023. Linda Gasser, who originally decided to start this project, contacted the other artists and decided to create something starting from the period that they were living. The film explores – as director Kaz Anstee says – “what happens if people are isolated for a huge amount of time” and “how people manage to maintain sanity and sense of self”. When asked how they came up with the idea, Linda answered: “We didn’t really know what would come to life. It wasn’t even clear that we would be working on something fictional, and we didn’t know that we would be filming in different countries (…) the story shaped itself throughout these continuous meetings that we had every week finding our story”. Each director created a character and invented their framework. Afterwards, they imagined how their characters would react after receiving the announcement of being left free after 5,000 days of isolation.

Edifice 129 by Kaz Anstee, Linda Gasser, Jürgen Heimüller and Kenneth Scicluna, 2023

Later we got the opportunity to watch a production made between Netherlands and Turkey: Bus From Adana by Jochem de Vries. This incredible short, released in 2023, appears to be the winner of the European Dramatic Short in this edition of the festival. In its seventy-minute screening time, we follow the movements of Aïsha, a mysterious twenty-year-old woman played by the talented actress Mare Satsjelasjvili, who escaped from Daesh with her three years old daughter. Surrounded by an atmosphere of uncertainty and tension she will try to make her way towards Istanbul, where things will get harder than she hoped.

Bus from Adana by Jochem de Vries, 2023

The Usual Story Of Aurel Lacroix is a 2023 short film by Andrei Cristian Stoian. The director wanted to investigate the origin of loops of violence and to identify who is responsible for them. He described that this film is about “Violence, in all its forms”. “I was inspired by my childhood, by growing up in a violent city and being transformed at some point from a victim to an aggressor” even though the story is completely fictional. Andrei Stoian told ÉCU that when filming the movie, he found out that it was very difficult to declare a person the guilty one: “I always went to maybe the mother, the father, the grandmother, and people around him but I never found the guilty one (…) I tried to point out that there is no answer to that question and there’s no guilty one, in this perspective there isn’t also judgment or blame”. When Stoian was asked about his feelings regarding competing against a dozen of the best independent filmmakers in the world, he answered: “Of course winning would be great (…) but for me, I don’t like to see art as a competition, being here is a win already”.

The usual story of Aurel Lacroix by Andrei Cristian Stoian, 2023

We were able to watch Nemoz, a short film by the French director Guillaume Pont set in a dystopian future and in a hyper-controlled society. This film, released in 2023, is based on the director’s father’s Fantastic Short Stories which he wrote twenty-five years before filming it, and faces ecological and political subjects which appear to be incredibly current. The protagonist, played by actress Faustine Pont, gets pregnant but soon realizes that she’ll have to abort because of the current rules of the country. The story takes an unexpected turn when the protagonist decides to rebel against the regime.

Nemoz by Guillaume Pont, 2023

The Moon Rises, says director Gaspard Vignon, is the true story of Arthur Parchet, a musician who lived between the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century and had a Romanesque life. The inspiration for the film came from this musician’s life and his music, unknown to the general public. The shooting of this twenty-three minute short took the crew just three and a half days, then it made its world premiere in 2024. “This film may be too classical for festivals – it’s an historical film with costumes – and festival’s mood but I’m excited to show it to the public”, Vignon says to our crew. Before the screening at the European Independent Film Festival, they had a public screening in the village where they shot it: “it was important for me to know how people react because it means if the film works (…) also, to show it to people is the only way to understand if the film is alive”. Gaspard Vignon demonstrates that surely his film is alive by winning the Best Director of this Festival’s edition.  

 The moon rises by Gaspard Vignon, 2023

Finally, with The Moon Rises, we conclude the overview of films that participated in the category of European Dramatic Short, in the 2024 edition of ÉCU. Screening these amazing short-films during the days of the festival has been a source of pride and satisfaction for us. Both the ÉCU crew and our atendees were extremely pleased to receive such exceptional examples of storytelling in filmmaking this year.

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