RIVER RITES wins the Grand Prize at Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival 2013

This year’s edition of the Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival BIEFF came to an end on Sunday, the 15th of December, at Cinema Studio, where the Awards Ceremony took place. The BIEFF 2013 Jury - consisting of cinema professionals such as Rémi Bonhomme, Program Manager of Semaine de la Critique, Cannes Film Festival; Joost Daamen, IDFA Amsterdam programmer; Mieke Bernink, Head of the Master of Film at the Netherlands Film Academy; Mário Micaelo, co-director of the Curtas Vila do Conde International Film Festival; Andrei Rus, film critic and lecturer at the National University of Theatre and Film Bucharest - decided:



The Grand Prize, consisting of 1500 euros, was awarded to American director Ben Russell, for his film RIVER RITES: “A river somewhere in Suriname: children and young adults run about in the water. From this scene that has a mythical sense to it, the filmmaker creates a dance, in which the grace of the people’s gestures becomes pure energy and rhythm. A cinematographic play in the truest sense of the word, reminiscent of some of Maya Deren’s films. Or, in other words, how cinema becomes poetry, the human body a tireless tightrope walker, and some simple dance steps a philosophy of life.” (Senscritique) The BIEFF Jury justified their decision: “The award for best film goes to a director who uses the cinematic language and techniques to transcend cinema. By toying with time and movement, he not only presents, but also creates a ritual capable of purifying both the film’s heroes, and us, the viewers.”


The Award for Best Director, offered by the Romanian Filmmakers' Union, went to the Portuguese director João Rui Guerra da Mata for the movie AS THE FLAMES ROSE. Having an innovative concept and extremely powerful emotional force, the short creates a parallel between the arson of Lisbon and the end of a relationship. The BIEFF Jury explained their choice: “This director manages to combine two distinct aesthetic approaches which at first seem incompatible: one is theatrical, the other intimate. During the film, he plays with the relativity of cinematic elements, in order to recreate the ephemerality of human life.”


The Award for Best Cinematography, offered by CINELABS Romania, was won by the short-film directed by Lois Patiño, MOUNTAIN IN SHADOW. It treats the landscape as if it were a tactile experience – by underlining textures and undermining materiality and spatial relationships, the director creates a visual choreography of the sublime that is breathtaking. The BIEFF Jury said: “This is a film which, from its very first shot, makes the viewer feel overwhelmed by the question: how exactly did they shoot this? The cinematographer toys with contrast, transforming a familiar natural landscape in a sublime and overpowering experience. This film bears testament to an extremely skillful cinematographer, knowledgeable in obtaining the best image with the help of his camera.”



The Best Romanian Experimental Film Award, also offered by CINELABS Romania, went to IMAGE FISHERMAN by Alexandru Petru Bădeliţă. The film is a mockery reinterpretation of the aesthetics of experimental cinema. In a collage of live-action and animation, the filmmaker reveals fragments of memories, subconscious thoughts, fears, obsessions, doubts, suggestively released from photo albums and letter-packed suitcases. The ironically grave voice-over commentary is playfully and energetically undermined by the eruption of kaleidoscopic images. “The spontaneity and diversity of the cinematic techniques and materials, mixed with tasteful humour, were the reasons for which the jury decided to deem IMAGE FISHERMAN by Alexandru Petru Bădeliţă as being the best Romanian film. Through this prize, the jury hopes to encourage the director to continue making experimental films.” (BIEFF Jury statement)


The Special Jury Mention went to Chinese director Hu Wei, for the movie BUTTER LAMP, an intriguing investigation on cultural identity issues. Starting from a practice still popular in China, at the border between fiction and documentary, the film witnesses a photo shoot, where a photographer takes family pictures of several Tibetan nomads, against landmark backgrounds: the Great Wall of China, Disneyland, Beijing’s Olympic Stadium, a Hawaiian beach etc. The Jury decided to “hand the special mention to a film whose initial concept is a simple, yet powerful one, which allows the exploration of a cultural identity in crisis, giving the Tibetans a chance to express their own realities and aspirations.” (BIEFF Jury statement)



The Closing Event ended with the screening of Gustav Deutsch’s latest feature, SHIRLEY – VISIONS OF REALITY. An homage to the iconic American painter Edward Hopper, the film brings to life through the means of cinema 13 of his paintings, to tell the story of a woman whose thoughts, emotions and contemplations let us observe an era in American history. In a series of breathtaking tableaux vivants, Deutsch's impressive set design, together with the remarkable lighting by cinematographer Jerzy Palacz, brilliantly recreate Hopper's visual universe, valuing its inherent cinematic and narrative qualities.


During the 4th edition of BIEFF, the audience could enjoy 29 films in the International Competition, and also a series of special screenings, made possible through several partnerships unique in Romania, with prestigious films festivals and institutions from the area of experimental cinema and visual arts, such as: Quinzaine des Réalisateurs, Cannes Film Festival; IDFA Amsterdam – the main European documentary film festival; the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival; Le Fresnoy Studio National des Arts Contemporains, EYE Film Institute Netherlands.


For a retrospective of the BIEFF 2013 events, we invite you to access our online photo and video galleries, on our official website: www.bieff.ro and on our Facebook page. Also, on our blog you can find interviews with directors Ben Russell and João Rui Guerra da Mata, made by the BIEFF 2013 Programming Department; you can also watch the festival making-of video here.


The 4th edition of BIEFF was organized with the support of the National Cinema Centre, the National University of Theatre and Film, the National University of Arts, Le Fresnoy – Studio National Des Arts Contemporains, UCIN, British Council, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Rule of Law Program South-East Europe of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Romanian Cultural Institute, the French Institute in Bucharest, Goethe-Institut, Embassy of Finland, JTI, Dacia, CINELABS, Jameson, Noumax, Digital Cube, 360 Revolution, Hotel Marshal, La Mama, Lente Cafe, Club Control, Barfly, Rehab Bar, Bastilia Bookshop, Smart Change, Alte Arte, Anca Miron.


MEDIA PARTNERS: Digi24, Radio Guerrilla, Vision Media Plus, Cinemagia.ro, CinemaRx.ro, CineFan.ro, FilmReporter.ro, LiterNet.ro, Carturesti.ro, B365.ro, All Hollow, BeWhere!, TATAIA, Orasulm.eu, GetLokal.ro, CalendarEvenimente.ro, Urban.ro, CooperativaUrbana.ro, iFestival.ro, IQads.ro, VICE.ro, HipMag.ro, SUB25.ro, GingerGroup.ro, TOTB.ro, LaPunkt.ro, 121.ro, Modernism.ro, ArtClue.net, PostModern.ro, ArtActMagazine.ro, Studentie.ro, VinSiEu.ro, DorDeDuca.ro, KoolHunt.ro, VIP Romania, Inhale Magazine, Ziarul Metropolis, Urban Things Romania.