L'Étrange Festival

by Ana Clara Soares, ÉCU writer

All of us can create certain ideas of what to expect of film festivals simply from thinking about their names. If it’s named Silhouette one can somehow expect “silhouettes” of ideas, expressed in a short film format. If it’s named The European Independent Film Festival, you can expect from us to watch some exciting European indie films. But what about a festival named L’Étrange (i.e. The Strange)? I bet your expectations are less clear-cut in this case, aren’t they?  After all, what is strange?

Poo can be surprisingly strange. As can a short movie competition hosted by the L’Étrange Festival in a greatly familiar venue such as the Forum des Images. Let me paint the picture for you: the Forum des Images is a perfectly normal, modern film hub. It hosts many of Paris’s film events, like the summery Clair de Lune (read previous article: http://www.ecufilmfestival.com/en/2010/08/paris-fermeture-annuelle/) and the upcoming Moscou – St. Petersburg. And there I went, together with a fellow ÉCU intern, off to an evening full of strangeness.

L’Étrange Festival promotes feature films as well as a short movie competition – all along the common idea of, well, the uncanny. From my personal experience, the event presented a range of movies that questioned my sense of what is normal, or even acceptable, in one’s movie-going experience. For instance, the day I attended the short movies competition was opened by Manuel Kapp’s “Stroboscopic Noise”, a film showing flashing white lines against a black background that changed rhythm and played with your vision, creating illusory 3-D spaces and so on and so forth. After 9 minutes of intense exposure to it, frankly all I wanted to do was to close my eyes for a good hour. But no, I didn’t. I still had 7 short movies to go and I was going to make it.

And I did make it, 1 hour, 50 minutes and a lot of poo later. And when I say a lot, I mean a surprising lot. Who’d say that poo could still be so weird, even after having been made cult back in the 70s by John Waters and the Divine-dog-poo-eating-scene in Pink Flamingos? Poo can still be disturbing in stop motion, when the characters’ whole world seems to be made of it (such as in Jelena Girlin and Mari-Liis Bassovskaja “Oranus”), or when a beautiful woman has sexual intercourse with a poo monster… (as in Carlos Eduardo Nogueira’s “Zigurate”).

The short movies competition did, however, allow me to perceive in a nutshell what would be considered strange in a number of different countries within a 2-hour frame, and for that I’m happy I went. I’m also positive that the great majority of films featured in the festival, no matter how long, did provide a unique experience to their viewers. And that’s what we film-lovers are all about, ain’t it?

For more information on this year’s L’Étrange Festival, check out their website at:

http://www.etrangefestival.com/EF2010/accueil.php.

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