Shorts @ PÖFF 2021

Shorts Animation Competition

How do you navigate from the nuclear family to the end of the world? The short animation films in this year’s competition go all the way to show us both our smaller and larger world with a new pair of eyes (and eyeglasses). Sometimes they are too daring, talking about our post-survival world in just a few minutes and in black-and-white; at other times, they are too funny, reminding us that art and the artists themselves are not hidden behind a beautiful content, but they are people with flesh and blood – and they need themselves to survive. Curious, energetic, complex but relatable, aesthetically diverse, they may fall into coming-of-age stories, stories of relationships, social responsibility, politics and democracy, or simply the absurd and the unexpected. The interplay between reality and abstraction holds strong; also the quest for our own personal truth (never a conventional one), entails a lot of eccentric but well-targeted episodes along the way. Enjoy! Vassilis Kroustallis

Shorts Live-Action Competition

The world still feels small. Even though many of us are moving into some sort of normality – whatever ‘normal’ is nowadays – the endless stretches of isolation and distancing have conspired to make life seem more constrained and fragile. Yet cinema – and the films in the PÖFF Shorts International Competition – reminds us that there is still a whole community of humanity out on a big planet full of wonder. That there are people who – even if we have differences – we share a connection with and whose stories show us that any isolation is ultimately temporary. While the pandemic is touched upon in the programme, the films here remind us that the everyday struggles of humanity still go on. There are loves to be found and hearts to be broken. There are corporations to fight and death to confront. There are mysteries to solve and joy and laughter to be had. With a range of styles and genres, from dark drama to fun comedy with a little detour into the realms of magical realism, all the filmmakers in the International Competition not only astound with their talent but become a constant source of reminding us that we are still together, even if we have felt far apart. Laurence Boyce and Tara Karajica

Shorts New Talents Competition: Animation

The best thing with the New Talents programme is that you never know what to expect. These emerging artists have their own fresh view on filmmaking. The directors literally animate and visualize everyday life with the ups and downs in an imaginary and creative way. The programme is a wild, yet coherent mixture of different genres and techniques, from very personal and intimate documentaries to an experimental approach and purely fictional stories. It's hard to imagine a better art form than animation to express the challenges of living in a tiny cubicle with roommates or the surreal life in the suburbs. We all know the hot summer day when it's the perfect weather to eat outside, but the wasps want to have their own share of the treats. Families and relationships play a big part in these animations, whether the story is about a desperate romance or set in an post-apocalyptic world. And who knew dropping a bag full of groceries on the street could have such serious consequences?

Shorts New Talents Competition: Live-action

Some people take the term ‘New Talents’ to indicate a certain lack of experience and competence. That the movies in the New Talents Live Action competition are somehow less refined and polished than others. Nothing could be further from the truth. Those in the know are aware that the term ‘New Talents’ means films with a freshness of vision, a precocious grasp of the language of cinema and a bold authorial voice which will resonate throughout the realms of the film industry over the years to come. The filmmakers here explore many facets of the modern age – amongst them parenthood, the environment and capitalism – and do so in a way that reminds us of the tremendous power of short films. That despite relatively short running times, they tell us so much about human nature and the state of the world in which we live today. With all the filmmakers in the selection having a commanding grasp of how to use the short form, the New Talents Live Action competition of 2021 becomes a rollercoaster ride of exhilarating storytelling and a collection of stunning filmmakers who everyone should keep an eye on as their rare talents develop even further as time goes on.

Shorts National Competition

The National Competition continues its tradition of nurturing and showcasing the young and up-coming filmmakers of Estonia, alongside a selection of established talent, to highlight just how rife with creativity the filmmaking scene in our relatively small country is, with a wide variety of approaches to filmmaking across fiction, documentary and animation. The films on offer in the selection vary in tone, but all reflect certain traits of Estonian sensibility. The drama is often dark and tragic, but there’s an air of the surreal and an undercurrent of dry humour on offer throughout. The documentary films are direct and revealing, but with a tenderness and humanity that is affecting. Seasoned and young Estonian animation talents also meet in this year's competition selection, in which the traditional and well-admired eccentricity and quirkiness of Estonian animation meets national traumas and exquisite situations. The community and the individual are always on the forefront, magnified, documented and subverted. There is still a palpable excitement about filmmaking in Estonia, with a new generation of people ready to make their mark on the cinema history of the country. These films remain a perfect opportunity to see where it all begins.

Shorts Kids Animation Competition

The animated short films for children this year is an adventure all by itself. We’ll sail on the sea and jump down a steep water slide. Such simple pleasures of summer might eventually reveal important lessons within themselves. We’ll inhabit the air and learn how to fly weightless. We’ll learn that an animated tour of a zoo might be something completely different from what we experienced. Let’s gather up some courage and enter the woods together to examine some of nature’s wonders up close. This time let the children educate the grownups for a change and we might learn from them how to embrace their fearless curiosity. Remember - if you get lost during our adventurous exploration, stay where you are at all cost! The films are dubbed in Estonian.

Doc@Shorts

Humans have always found ways of maintaining the record - from the beginnings of spoken to written word, to documentary films and other mediums. Documentaries have evolved into much more than “non-fiction films which document reality”. The factual information remains the core of the medium, however, we’re also offered glimpses of different viewpoints, giving us a chance to experience the lives of fellow men or even poetically reflect on how we lead our own lives. The selection of live action and animated documentaries in the DOC@Shorts programme bring you the compelling stories of real people and places. We invite you to join these inspiring and gripping journeys of love and loss, the challenges, closures and acceptance, the odd ones out and how our choices can affect the environment and others around us.

Shorts Panorama

A calming sight of the sea? A glimpse of mountaintops, or the wind running through some trees? Or perhaps a look into the deepest corners of someone's heart instead? The best view in any room must be a cinema screen, because film art can give you all that and more. Panorama illuminates the current state of humanity with an agenda to provoke and inspire. This year's programme includes our Hungarian focus, new and awarded European shorts, as well as legendary Estonian animation.

Shorts Alternatives

There are times we have to change the way we move forward. With clever genre shorts, quality dance films and unexpected perspectives to the world around us, the Alternatives is a fun and fearless exploration of how far, low, deep and weird we can go.