For me, curating the short film section for EIFF is characterised by a series of exciting connections and collaborations. These take numerous forms: the dialogue I have with my team and colleagues regarding the shape of the programme; the relationships forged with filmmakers through the close engagement with their work; and, crucially, the responses the audience has to the work on the big screen during the Festival. Ultimately, my aim is to programme work that inspires conversation and debate and that engages the medium of cinema in order to show us the world in new and different ways. In my estimation, the short form inherently incorporates this spirit of risk-taking and experimentation!
The programming team search far and wide for the films we think are the most exciting in the world right now. We attend film festivals across the globe, work our way through thousands of films officially submitted to EIFF, and keep an eye out for new work from filmmakers on our radar. For me, as the viewing progresses, key themes and ideas emerge, and it is in response to these that I begin to construct thematic selections.
For example, in this year’s programme, ‘Radical Archives’ emerged from an especially intriguing stream of works that either explored the unusual forms an archive can take or engaged archival material in a particularly different and striking way. In the case of ‘Film Is Resistance!’, I responded as a curator to works that harnessed the power and energy of the cinematic form in order to foreground ideas and issues of striking political resonance. From a curatorial standpoint, it is particularly interesting to bring together work that is varied in scope, aesthetic and approach, yet which also shares thematic coherence. This particular programme moves through identity politics, the reclamation of hidden trans narratives, political activism and the body engaged as a powerful site of resistance.
Programming is a wonderfully outward-looking process that is inherently international in scope, and it is a particular pleasure to be able to set in motion voices and perspectives from all over the world. There are ethical considerations at play here too – a responsibility that I take very seriously – as images are powerful influencers of how we see and feel about ourselves, and I want to present work that empowers.
There has been a great deal of discussion about female representation in film recently, and I am proud that over 50% of work across the strand is made by female-identifying filmmakers. Incorporating a multiplicity of different voices is an exciting proposition, and in centring perspectives that have been obscured or under-represented culturally, we can, in a very small way, contribute to the shift of power dynamics, while celebrating urgent new voices and representations.
I am very interested in the communal experience of cinema-going. In a world where we are constantly inundated with images and information from all directions, film festivals offer a precious space in which to pause, to look outside of ourselves, and to connect with others, while collectively embarking upon a cinematic journey rich with new ideas, emotions and, of course, beautiful images!
Explore the Shorts programme here.