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Focus: The Body in which I Live

5/06/19
The Body in which I Live: visual identification of the 19th New Horizons Shortlist - Polish Shorts

At a time when the cult of the body reigns supreme, when ads serve up smooth and shapely figures, wellness trainers encourage you to breathe better, move better, sleep better, miracle diets promise eternal youth and medical treatments correct those imperfections we can't control through rigor, health food and fitness, the body, though seemingly liberated and democratically devoted to its users, remains subjected to training and social formatting: to be strictly male or female, to function efficiently in the system of other bodies i.e. to improve, reproduce, and finally to know when to give way to newer and better models.

Who owns the body in which I live? The paraphrased title of Pedro Almodóvar's film is a pretext and starting point for us to look at how the body is treated in the modern world. It is both individual and collective - the body of a political, gender or cultural community. We will show films that get under your skin, like Marcus Schleinzer's Angelo, in which a slave brought from Africa, passes from hand to hand and becomes the object of educational, religious, social and scientific experiments by white owners while his body becomes the subject of fantasy. Flesh Out by Micheli Occhipinti takes us back to the African continent, to Mauritania, where local tradition requires a future bride to be fattened up for her fiancée to find her attractive. The girl's body belongs to the community; has it been completely enslaved? 

We will check if the body is an efficient mechanism today, a resource to be managed or a source of suffering. During the 19th New Horizons International Film Festival we will trace several paths of emancipation from the oppression of binding cultural norms and political systems. In the subversive Daughters of Fire, Argentinian director Albertina Carri (the star of this retrospective) creates a polyamorous utopia in which pornography is a tool for the liberation of women from the power of men's control and masculine ogling. Mania Akbari and her partner Douglas Whit make A Moon For My Father, a personal story of overcoming a disease. Without shame or embarrassment it breaks the taboo - not so much of nudity as of the sick, the imperfect and mutilated body. She treats herself as an artifact and her own body as creative material, a sculpture. We see the triumph of spirit over the body in Sasha Polak's film Dirty God, the story of a girl doused with acid by a jealous boyfriend. The protagonist's internal transformation leads her away from treating her body as currency in the consumerist system of mature capitalism to allowing herself to be happy despite the lack of external beauty. So Pretty, directed by Jessie Jeffrey Dunn Rovinelli, rebelliously takes a post-gender stand by asking what is the use of sexual liberation if we remain slaves to our hearts. Paradoxically, despite the film's very progressive environment, it returns to the ancient Platonic concept that man is a soul with a body.

The section is accompanied by an exhibition entitled Inner Life, where corporeality is taken to the extreme by focusing on the time when the body goes beyond itself. Inner Life is a thing about pregnancy. The Studio BWA gallery turns into a symbolic uterus that gives birth to a discourse of blood, tears, amniotic fluids, biopolitics and astrology, to archetypes and current disputes, patriarchy and feminism, horrors and the miracles of internal life.

The author of the text is Ewa Szabłowska

Section curators:

Małgorzata Sadowska, Ewa Szabłowska, Marcin Pieńkowski


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