Posted on 2023-07-09.

Festivals as transitional spaces

Another July, another NIFFF1! I got introduced to this film festival by my partner, a true cinephile. We have been going to this festival since we came together, which makes this the fifth installation I have attended. The program this year was extraordinarily tempting, and I decided to buy a festival pass that allowed me to watch as many movies as I wanted (or could). Making our own program, on which films we want to see, has also become kind of a ritual every year. We’ll sit together, fill in films and ratings and playtimes into a spreadsheet, and then arrange that into something doable. Our final plan included 15 films each, some of which we didn’t watch together (how could somebody not want to see Shin Kamen Raider…).

The 15 movies and some quick thoughts and ratings on each one.

My favourite films this year were Shin Kamen Raider, Tiger Stripes, Raging Grace and Augure. The first film, Kamen Raider, speaks to my nerd heart. It’s just brutally bizarre, quick cut and hard to make out any meaning, like watching some weird anime… on mushrooms. Who wouldn’t like that?

The other three films had strong leanings towards topics of feminism, racism and colonialism from POC-perspectives. All three can be read as comments on the shit-show we’re in thanks to the patriarchy. It helped tremendously to have Q&A’s with the directors after the screenings and have further insights into their intentions. I am very glad that Tiger Stripes and Raging Grace got awards at NIFFF this year.

Tiger Stripes, a coming of age story, was an apt description of the embodied violence of being a female teenager and how taboos and the patriarchy further the suffering of this transitional and liminal time. The film music was done by Gabber Modus Operandi and that’s spectacular. The Indonesia duo is doing fantastic hardcore, with metal/noise/punk influences carrying Indonesian soundscapes and influences to the listener.

Raging Grace was a gentle pointer towards the racist experience that migrant workers have. The director drew from his own and his Filipino parents’ life in the UK. He wanted to work through the rage he accumulated during his life, but have the film on a more positive note. The racism is gruesome to witness, but the film is empowering, ultimately. The rhythm, soundscape and music of the film is impressive, and the director said that he listened to a metronome on 98bpm while writing.

Augure had me instantly with its magic realism, and I was pretty hyped to see this film. I didn’t expect it to bring me to tears… It’s basically about family affairs, complicated by the patriarchy, seen as a spectator floating through fantastic lands and images. The film was very lively. I loved its aesthetics. Most of the outfits were DIY by the director because of the low budget.

This year’s festival was fantastic. We had a lot of sun, swam, met many friends and ate good food – next to seeing so many good films. It was also too much, and I’m pretty well done after these 10 days and 15 films. Then again, aren’t festivals meant to do to much? A festival not only as a place of celebration but also as a space of ritualistic transition, from one state into another. Might that be during the festival or from a moment before to one after it.

Trailer