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Visual Front at the 19th New Horizons International Film Festival

11/06/19
Shortlist - Polish Shorts Third Eye: Spirituality, Magic and Witches

Visual Front is an experimental slice of the festival, at the intersection of cinema and art, where artists confront the film form while filmmakers interface with a conceptual narrative. It is the front line of thought pattern exchange. Just as it becomes increasingly difficult to discern where cinema ends and art begins (or vice versa), it is difficult to define what is a fruit of nature, the product of technology or a figment of the imagination.

Visual Front films reflect a postmodern world where we osmose information through a broadband connection, they appeal to uncommon traditions, aesthetics and inspirations. They might embody spiritologies of ancient systems and teasers of the latest concepts, risky hypotheses, dark ecologies and relics of very fresh civilizations; this is the world after an apocalypse that passed unnoticed. As in the Argentine film Owner's Portrait by Joaquin Maito, in which the rebellion of domestic animals fleeing homes en masse takes place completely under the human radar.

The front line is dynamic. Every year it follows new paths of examining and thinking about the present day. And the artists conduct peculiar field studies, sometimes in the bosom of nature on the Carpathian slopes of Bernd Schoch's Olanda. From a mushroom trip through a magical forest, we are spirited to a virtual beauty clinic; in Make Me Up, Scottish artist Rachel MacLean shows the dramas of selfie-feminists trapped in a dollhouse built of sugar and insta-filters.

While university labs disgorge simulations of the future that may turn existing definitions inside out, the existential and material condition of young scientists is little different than of precariats from Brechtian dramas, as wonderfully shown by Max Linz in the glitchy Music and Apocalypse.

As endemic parts of a rapidly mutating culture, we cannot keep up with new concepts to describe it. Traditional categories, which once made it possible to clearly distinguish between masculine and feminine, artificial and natural, or the imagined versus the factual, have all been blurred. Anna Odell in X&Y reveals the weaknesses of modern art and mocks the traps of liberal society, bringing participants and viewers to insanity, while Aistė Žegulytė in the baroque Animus Animalis confronts fauna preparing for a posthumous beauty contest.

Everyone who is curious or bold is invited to join the Visual Front field research during the 19th New Horizons International Film Festival. Beware, it goes without saying that the experiment is burdened with a certain risk - for the artists and the audiences.

Ewa Szabłowska, curator


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