Films We Fell in Love With

Let’s mark this Valentine’s Day weekend with short films we love like friends or even partners. Maybe we like to spend time revisiting them. Maybe they somehow marked our memories along the path of life—meeting them at a film festival or a fleeting screening in pre-pandemic times.

This is uplifting, life-affirming, rich cinema, all under 30 minutes. On this weekend where each one of us will try to find a way to celebrate the different kinds of love in our lives, we at DAFilms wanted simply to share with you our love of cinema. That may be in a portrait of a young woman, Johana, who moves from a Moravian village to Prague, searching for closer ties, a sense of belonging, and real trust. She finds it—but in a way that might surprise you. Or it might be a semi-fictionalised portrait of the filmmaker herself, as in Veslemøy's Song by Sofia Bohdanowicz, in which her avatar is moved to tears upon listening to an old recording in a New York library. The titular record was recorded by an elusive figure from her family's past, the violinist Kathleen Parlow. The inherent romanticism of the idea is matched by Bohdanowicz's stark and blurrily beautiful hand-processed celluloid images, which seem to conjure this bygone world to our very present.

Mikołaj Góralik of DAFilms Poland selected Zofia Kowalewska's Close Ties, in which the young director tells the love story of her grandparents. Without choosing sides, Kowalewska points her camera at the couple who, despite numerous ups and downs, are preparing for their 45th wedding anniversary. Piece by piece she assembles a picture of their relationship through small gestures, glances, fragments of an everyday routine. For some it may be a romantic story with a happy ending, for others it may show painful consequences of life choices driven simply by feeling. This ambiguity is what makes Kowalewska's film so essential and so endlessly interesting.

Over at DAFilms Americas we have Fire Mouth, a favourite of curator Kristyna Balaban. This exceptionally immersive short film parachutes us directly into the middle of a blazing hot summer day in a soccer stadium in Brazil. The crowds are working themselves up for the game. The fiery commentary by Didi"Fire Mouth:Souza dominates the entire environment. Small moments and miniscule details beautifully captured in black & white weave together to thread a tapestry where we do not see a single player nor the action on the soccer field, yet we are right there alongside them. In these days of the pandemic many of us long to immerse ourselves in different worlds and experience new sensations unrelated to our current situation. This it exactly that, close to a transmission from an alien planet.

I Love My Boring Life, a diary film, is like zen therapy, especially for these days in which we stay in our homes much more than ever before. Selected by the Czech DAFilms, here we have a portrait of one woman, one diary, one house—a cinematic invitation to enter into the essence of ordinary things that, in the end, swells to encompass the entire universe which we inhabit, breath, and love. What could be more romantic?

Via DAFilms Slovakia, we are serving up the 11-minute visit to the kitchen of the New International Hotel in Brno. Cooks. The fastest way to anybody’s heart, after all, is through their stomach. This cheerful documentary about one big hotel kitchen, its employees and young apprentice chefs has the special drive to make you smile and hum along. Thoughtfully framed black & white shots rhythmically combine with dynamic or twist music here, revealing the aesthetics of early sixties in Czechoslovakia. And behind the scene of preparing lunch, there are dreams—which we dream of today, too—about the joy of a party.

Selected films is powered by Doc Alliance, a creative partnership of 7 key European documentary film festivals. Our aim is to advance the documentary genre, support its diversity and promote quality creative documentary films.

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