Cyprus Mail

Fun and seriousness in small bursts

Film festivals are a bit of a thing here in Cyprus. We get European film fests, celebrations of animation, strings of documentary screenings, and even festivals focusing on specific film industries (often led by the French Institute and Goethe). But this coming week sees a rather special event – a film festival which incorporates the best of the shorts from all around the world: the International Short Film Festival of Cyprus.

Organised annually by the Ministry of Education in conjunction with the Rialto Theatre, the festival is now in its sixth edition, and organisers are preparing to showcase a wide spectrum of global shorts. From fiction to documentary, experimental to animated, almost every genre of film – short film, that is – is featured in a programme which sees “directors, producers and filmmakers from the international and local film community joining together to provide an excellent opportunity for local filmgoers to enjoy some of the best short films of the festival year,” say organisers.

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The Last Breath

Running from October 15 to 21 and taking place at the Rialto Theatre in Limassol, the event will include over 60 short films in competition for the festival’s National and International awards (adjudicated by a panel of world-renowned film professionals), along with film tributes, masterclasses and parallel events. And while the judges will no doubt have their work cut out for them dashing from one screening to the next, we, the movie-going public, can look forward to less intense, more relaxed viewing. Especially when it comes to the highlight of the week because, despite this being billed as an ‘international’ festival, it’s the films by local directors which oft draw the biggest crowds.

Last year saw the first prize in the Best National Film category go to David Hands and Christina Georgiou for Out Of Sight, a short which transported the viewer “through many layers of narrative in a fusion of sound design and imagery”. This year, competition is even stiffer, with 13 entries from Cypriot directors having made the cut.

With subject matter ranging from the mundane to the bizarre (and the mundane which then becomes bizarre) this is a programme which is sure to entertain. In the first category we have Mad Dogs, a short by director Danae Papaioannou which follows “three broke buddies smoking a joint, having fun on their usual stroll on the outskirts of a small Greek town. As they tease each other about girls, money and authority they find an abandoned helpless dog…”. And at the opposite end of the spectrum we get Harry Ayiotis’ Sanctioned, in which a society born from the ashes of anarchy and destruction – “year unknown; the future bleak” – has endorsed the use of legal manslaughter in its efforts to curtail and control the rampant violence between its citizens. “The process,” we’re told, “is simple. You visit the Ministry of Sanctioned Homicide and you apply for ‘Sanction’. If you are accepted you may take another life with the full backing of the law. Elias visits the ministry and applies for Sanction to kill one of his parents. It is granted…” Quite a premise!

Segueing from one extreme to the other is Antidoton by Michael Hapeshis. It starts with an everyday occurrence: an ordinary man returning to his car after a hard day’s work. But when our protagonist discovers a wallet on the pavement, he’s soon entangled in “a set of bizarre adventures” as he struggles to find and return the wallet to its rightful owner. Similarly, Bad Habits also revolves around an unusual discovery, only this time it’s a library cataloguer whose unusual find enmeshes him in “a dangerous scheme that puts him at risk”, in a short that relies, says director Emilios Avraam, on the subjective for its conclusion.

While the national programme includes a number of well-known names (Argyro Nicolaou, Rebecca Stylianou, Georgia Nicolaou and Minos Papas to name a few), the many entrants in the international section are currently being whittled down to the best of the best by members of the festival artistic committee, and audiences are promised a delightful and varied line-up of the best shorts the global industry has to offer. Meaning that whether you’re in the mood for a local oeuvre or a global extravaganza, this year’s festival has something entrancing (and short!) for everyone.

The International Short Film Festival of Cyprus
October 15 to 21 at the Rialto Theatre in Limassol. The programme starts at 8.30 each evening, and entrance is free. Films will be subtitled in Greek and English where necessary. For more information (including the full programme and bookings) visit, [email protected], tel: 77777745

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