8th STIFF program: Amazing student films divided into 10 thematic program slots for all film lovers

This year’s Student International Film Festival – STIFF program is divided into 10 program slots with 38 films competing for the best in the category of fiction, animation, and documentary film, as well as 5 films out of competition from Rijeka’s young emerging documentarists.

We bring you a short overview of the program so you can explore the films gathered around the subject of the body.

Program I: Thunders
Just like natural disasters, social and beurocratic systems block our paths. Sheer willpower allows one to find the light that brings hope in lightning and to dampen the roar of thunder with loud cries, song, and laughter. All The Things I’ll Never Tell You is a film in which the playful interaction of language and the visual is prominent. The collage of old photographies, imagined memories and the examination of the emotions brought about by the lack of communication amid generations enables the author to reconstruct the pater familias. Then Comes The Evening is a cinema verite styled voyage to the summits of eastern Bosnian mountains where we plunge into the quotidian haiku. This poetic documentary provides us with a slice of the quiet life led by two elderly women, a life spent in dedication to coexistence with nature. Cockpera is a humorous animation that takes cues from the tales of Aesopus. To the more cunning shall go the spoils of this opera duel. Out Loud centers around the nonfictional coming of age story of three boys set in the rift between the Arabic and Jewish cultures. The school quire and the camaraderie pave the way towards new horizons for the trio.

Program II: Amnesia
Is oblivion achievable or is the forgotten merely repressed, hiding in the dark and waiting? An Ocean is a documentary about the resurfacing of a trauma that was kept submerged for 45 years. In the Croatian fiction film Letters a father and son reproach and so expose once more the wounds that have been dressed by decades of silence. Is this gap bridgeable? Three generations of a Turkish family in Germany are torn apart between feeling homesick and striving for a better future. The documentary Turkish Rivierapresents their story. Looking back has no place in the world of the Croatian animated film The Tower – civilization hastily leaps forward. Is it in such a hurry out of fear from what’s left in its wake?

Program III: Glitch
Every system, from intimate love to cultural heritage and technology, has its cracks. Life is conducted as a grand experiment of maintaining normalcy, riddled with glitches. The documentary The Great Journey is compiled from archive footage to chronicle the friendship of the members of a Rijeka-based band who nourish their wanderlust and love of music through curious expeditions. Antoine is a young writer who decides to step out of the inner world he created with his already overstrained imagination in order to attempt a relationship with an actual girl in the fiction film Thus Began Antoine’s Downgoing. The animated documentary Just a Guy introduces three women enamored with a convicted serial killer. Deepfake Therapy is a documentary that examines an experiment where one can reestablish communication with the deceased through the aid of newly developed video technology, actors, and grief experts. In the animated film Arka all humanity’s accomplishments are conserved aboard a cruise ship sailing into the unknown.

Program IV: Sprint
Ready, steady, go! We’ve got out dreams to win in this race. The protagonists found in this slot of films at times struggle alone, other times in the company of friends but ever-persistent, without backing down. The path to success is often difficult leading us to evaluate the price of the endeavor. The feud between two rival groups of children in the movie Get Tought presents Andrus with a dilemma: is the honor of his pack worth more than the secret friendship he has with a girl from the opposing side? Eleven-year-old gymnast, heroine of the film Stephanie courageously treads towards a career in professional sports. Likewise diligent is the minute bug that flies towards the light in the sweet animated movie Pursuit. Out Loud is a film focused on three boys that find solace in the school quire.

Program V: Little Chances
It’s sometimes hard to shake off the feeling that we don’t fit in. Even more so when the world does little to hide the fact that they don’t see us as a part of their varnished image of reality. Activist documentary Drmun is Ours questions the process of nationalization and the problems that arise from the ineptitude of the cold state bureaucracies to comprehend a centuries-old way of life of a community. The Best Orchestra in the World is a fiction film about a sock who wishes to become a part of the Viennese Philharmonic Orchestra. In the documentary  Mathilda and The Love Room, social worker Mathilda reveals the becoming of a special room: a space for the homeless to make love. Peel is an animated meditative unraveling of the poetry that is in the details of everyday life in a retirement home told through drawings. How much of a chance do a lonely teacher, school worker, and first grader stand to turn their lives in a completely new direction? Find out in the Icelandic film Monday.

Program VI: Stretching
The rigid posturing of our bodies along with the rigid patterns of our relationships demand that we loosen up from time to time. Let’s stretch out our stunted thought, warm up those contracted emotions and breathe out all that is unneeded. Fiction film In the Woods  shows what happens when a young couple feels constricted by the solitude of their vacation spot. Away from the hustle and bustle of their daily lives, the commitment to each other comes into question. The family dinner table from the documentary No Crying at the Dinner Table is the author’s arena for working out through the relationships, thoughts, and emotional challenges that make her family.  Tragicomedy Saint Android explores heights the robotization of society will reach.  Matadoras is a touching story of two girls who endure life changes through playing.

Program VII: Strobe Light
The relentless pulse of youth sets the pace for everyday changes. Growing up happens in flashes of sudden rises and falls, simultaneously erecting and razing, to form and create once again. Are the changes faster than a blink of an eye? Can the angst and restlessness of youth be quelled anytime soon? The film Days Lost follows Olja as she experiences a tectonic shift in her life when her bastion of security and happiness- the relationship with her brother is intruded on by a new girl. The turmoil of growing up affects the closely bound yet very distinct siblings Zimka and Nazmija in the Croatian documentary Between Summers. Trans girl Dustin goes through fateful events one evening while out and about with some friends in this French film. The animated filmP deals with facing temptation in a self-made, self-gratifying cosmos created by the main character’s solitary ego. One Friday Afternoon is an autobiographical account of a compulsory shift into adulthood and coping with a disease that abruptly engulfs the author’s existence.

Program VIII: Shifting
What to do when you feel that you’ve outgrown the very life that took you ages to construct? To completely abandon the habits, relationships, and practices that define a person might be hard if not impossible so a slight shift might be better to aim for. Raphael, of the film Dogwatch is a middle-aged man balancing a security guard job he loathes and providing care for his ill mother. He finds himself in circumstances that force him to leave behind the life he knows again and again. The young and successful influencer portrayed in the film To the Stars is no longer content and feels like a prisoner of the industry that created her while her even younger devotee tries to follow in her footsteps. In the film Home, a compulsive hoarder is trying to put in order her apartment that she crammed with a ton of stuff over the years. The place is in such a state that it’s hard to even move around it for her and her twelve feline companions. You can’t make the shift happen with just courage and determination. It takes a little imagination as well. My Fishdad and I shows Yael confronting his overbearing father figure with the aid of playful fantasy.

Program IX: Traces
Scars are best to remain hidden and sings of weakness not shown, nonetheless the body bears and stores the markings life has left on it. What if it were possible to be truly liberated and then vanish into thin air?  In the fiction film Things Like a mother frantically tries to uncover if the father had molested their five-year-old daughter. The Croatian documentary Now I  Am Irena is about a woman who reenacts the arguments she had with her ex-husband in an attempt to achieve some sort of closure. Sometimes the best remedy when it comes to emotions is to just let it all out. The animated reverie Sommerregen affirms this notion. The mysterious disappearance of a certain Mr. Tom R servers as a perfect excuse for an absurdist celebration of all the departures done supposedly without reason in The Disappearance of Tom R. Mmm… Cat reminds us how getting lost in the embrace of your beloved pet is often all we need to feel that inner peace.

Program X: Loops
Family affairs can at times be so convoluted that they might induce vertigo! Where to stop, when’s the right time to get involved, and when to disengage? The answers to these types of questions won’t be found without a bit of poking around. Nikola Stojanović’s disparate and colorful family is vividly depicted in his documentary Cornelian Cherries. The invisible threads that hold the fabric of this family together are brought to light. Tropicana is an emotional Italian drama about an eight-year-old boy who learns to deal with the gravity of familiar inner workings. Martin Torpedo is a candid depiction of a life led by an elderly man in the abandoned harbor of the defunct factory “Torpedo” where he spends his days in quiet contemplation whilst surviving off of the barest of necessities. In Love Is Just a Death Away a phantasmagorical junkyard comes to life through animation to teach us how to find love even amidst rot and decay.