To commemorate its 70th anniversary, the Venice Film Festival (which just concluded last Saturday) commissioned 70 short films from 70 directors. The only ground rule was the duration: no less than 60 seconds, no more than 90. Otherwise, the “great maestros, well-known directors, and young filmmakers of recognized talent” (as the festival’s website puts it) were allowed to do whatever they wanted, something many proved by going over the alloted time. Now all 70 are on YouTube for viewers to browse through at their leisure on this page. That’s a lot, so here’s some highlights to get you started.
One of the best of the bunch is from Attenberg director Athina Rachel Tsangari, who offers a bracingly strange depiction of two 35mm projectors having a chat of sorts by the sea. You’ll see:
Next, a hypnotic series of Kenyans saying “Hakuna matata” over and over, reclaiming the phrase from The Lion King. Austrian director Ulrich Seidl almost certainly assembled this from footage shot for last year’s Paradise: Love, where the phrase pops up a lot:
Taxi Driver screenwriter Paul Schrader sums up his concerns about where movies might be going far more eloquently than the turgid discussions in his recent The Canyons about how no one goes to the theater to watch movies anymore. Schrader wanders around Manhattan’s High Line with an insectile array of cameras arranged around him, holding court on his “concern that this period of transition we’re going through may not in fact be a transition at all, but a new status of permanent technological change”:
Another breezy self-portrait comes from Bernardo Bertolucci (Last Tango In Paris, The Last Emperor), who’s been confined to a wheelchair for a while now, due to back pain. Here, the camera is right alongside an electric wheelchair zooming determinedly over roughly cobbled streets, refusing to be stopped by the tough road — a good metaphor for Bertolucci’s determination not to stop making movies because of his new condition. (After not making a movie since 2003’s The Dreamers, he returned last year with Me And You.)
If you’re unfamiliar with Korean director Hong Sang-soo, and his explorations of the chain-smoking, hard-drinking lives of Korean men and women in awkward sexual and romantic entanglements, this is as good a place to start as any:
This is also a good opportunity to explore filmmakers whose work has received minimal American exposure, like Italian director Salvatore Mereu, whose brief look at Sardinian goatherds quickly pivots from the easy comedy of people saying things like “Put that goat down!” to what seems to be the subject of one of Vittorio De Seta’s documentaries looking at his past self on a cell phone:
One more for the road: a hypnotic view through a windshield to the sound of lapping waves from Thai master Apichatpong Weerasethakul. This one’s for the art-damaged formalists:
There’s plenty where all that came from, so dive in.