It is time to PLAY the GAMES — the forgotten muse of childhood, which will be celebrated with the competition program of 40 films of all genres from 16 countries around the world, divided into 11 program blocks whose titles recall the most famous board games, i.e. the moves and tactics that make them (Half-time • Charades • Catch and Toss • En Plein • Checkers • Offside • All In • Check point • Time-out • Hide and Seek • Marbles).
Carefully read the rules of the 9th STIFF games:
Half-time • The sound interrupts the match, a warning that it is time for a break, that the game has its course and that we are now halfway through. We are in an intermediate state of interruption and waiting. In an expressive collage of archetypes, the animated film Animal Locomotion creates an associative vortex of breaths and sighs in lamentation about the repressed animal instinct in humans.
In the fiction film Blue Noise, an unexpected embrace is a long-needed rest for a young and lonely soul. Then, imprisoned in half-time, on the first pages of her thesis, the heroine of the documentary film Me Myself ANDI is absorbed in the crazy rhythm of emotions, needs, and desires that play their own game in that huge break in life.
Charades • Gestures usually reveal more than anything said. Our body movements are driven by some internal mechanism that cannot be fooled, and any attempt at deliberate maneuvering is as clear as the elephant in the room. So what do we express with our body, and what are we really trying to convey? It is easier to hide thoughts than expressions. In the documentary film Light Years, Vitali, a peculiar seminarian, hidden in the safety of the cramped space of a roommate’s apartment reveals that his essence is broader than the given boundaries of life and faith.
The experience of foreign bodies and spaces terrifies an introverted girl in kindergarten in the animated film Silent Type. Embarrassed by his extra weight and his own mother’s unsightly appearance, the hero of the movie Fruits and Vegetables will do everything to correct the figures that are bothering him. Ultimately, the protagonist of the animated movie Slouch finds himself in the loop of the music star’s tried-and-true moves. Can some other, more sincere gestures achieve his success?
Catch and Toss • Maintaining a dialogue with the opposite side is a specific skill. An argument is like a ball that we can serve so powerful, leaving the interlocutor without the opportunity to block it. However, it can be lightly served so that our attitude does not even touch him or moderately, in a passing game that is fun but also viable for both parties. The young feminist in the documentary, Esther, is searching for that balance after returning to the countryside to her traditional Catholic family.
The fear of the unknown will lead the community to reject the skills of a village midwife in the suspenseful mediaeval drama Midwife. How far we are allowed to invade the intimacy of people close to us asks the playful animation of Curiosa, and should we at all maintain old friendships and irreconcilable differences is revealed by the domestic fiction film Our First Hit.
En Plein • Placing the entire bet on one number is the move of someone very confident, dare-devilish, or completely resigned. In the documentary film (p)artisan, the young artist will, for the sixth time, put all-in into realizing his essential dream, enrolling in the Academy of Fine Arts in Ljubljana. The protagonist of the film Courier interrupts the boring everyday life of a package delivery man with a casual relationship with a female client.
On the other hand, the uncompromising gradation of rhythm and associated scenes of all by-products of sociability leaves no breathing room in the experimental animation One Thousand and One Attempts to Be an Ocean. A former gambling addict and amateur weightlifter, now condemned to his parent’s garage, puts all his hopes into selling protein for a multi-level marketing agency in the fiction film The Architect. Finally, mother and daughter make an effort in the joint walk through the maquis to the sea in the documentary film That Much More.
Checkers • Now it is the women’s turn. Some of them step outside the conventions, so their steps are followed by society under a special magnifying glass. They do not follow the path. How far will they go, breaking the rules of the game? Life is often not fair. In the film First, a woman whose unborn child’s fate is to be stillborn decides on an unexpected path. The harmony of the island of wild women in the animated film Carried away is interrupted by the appearance of a seemingly ordinary object. In the documentary film Sacrificed, fifteen-year-old Flavie is ready for civil disobedience to defend her social and ecological beliefs. Will the young girl be allowed the freedom of movement, or will she stay imprisoned in her father’s armour we will discover in the animated film The Potter’s Daughter. In the experimental-documentary film Waves, the author observes an intimate love relationship in subjective movement through touches and whispers, subtle reminiscences, whirlpools, waves, and vibrations.
Offside • In the forbidden margins of the space that surrounds us, we often stand frozen by fear of possible mistakes. We move with uncertainty in a familiar yet foreign environment, as the protagonist of the animated film Orange Peel, whose inner nervousness directly reflects the complex and dangerous environment. In the fiction film Rosanazi, the eclectic group of young neo-Nazi questions the space, society’s boundaries, and the group itself. Placed between associations and memories, the protagonist of the animated film Orange Peel is on the train from Spain with a notebook filled with memories on her lap. The aesthetics of seductive photography in the inaccessible parts of the Polish countryside highlight the alienation and condemnation of the protagonist in the fiction film The Howling.
All in • Playing with the highest stakes can result in a rise to the top or a fall to the bottom. Nevertheless, how will we know what awaits us if we do not bet all-in sometime? The desire to be in the centre of events, at the height of the party, repeatedly fills and empties the heroine of the documentary film In medias res. The protagonist of the fiction film Warsha gives his all in the (entirely) unexpected ending of a tense day at a risky construction job. The crew behind the movie The Girl in the Blue Dress revealed its trump cards and talents for a full-blooded mediaeval musical. At first glance, when one accident photo is taken, it opens up a sea of insecurities and bad experiences of the protagonist of the animated film Pore.
Check point • Experiencing failure does not always mean going back to the beginning. The experience, even if bad, leaves a mark and direction for some other attempts. Maybe more successful precisely because of that experience. The protagonist of the documentary, Flora, shows that it is crucial not only to know what we want from life but also what we do not want. Ultimately, life is not a game, and the possibilities of repetition are limited. Moreover, when life consists of a series of unfortunate events, as in the touching animation The Heart of Betel Nuts, it is difficult to find a moment where life could be built in a positive direction. One cat and a warm word from a passerby still hold the weak threads of the life of the protagonist of the documentary My Friend Alexander Grigorievich. After the traumatic way of earning a living in the fiction film Lili Alone, will the young woman manage to find her checkpoint?
Time—out • Faced with new stimulation, we are more sensitive and vulnerable. In moments of rest from everyday life – when we put the brakes on the obligations that surround us and go in some other, unexpected direction – we feel livelier than usual. The protagonist of the documentary If the Streets Were Mine, a sharp-witted homeless man whose freedom has genuine charms but also several sensitive points of weakness, left his life to this idle driving. Likewise, the inspiring animated story Matapacos, about a dog that became a symbol of activism in Chile, reminds us of a moment of touching the strength and power of the individual. On the other hand, a break from work turns into a sigh of despair and fear for the protagonist of the tense drama, Borzaya, after learning about the true nature of the illegal operation undertaken to save her family’s existence. Maybe the rest is in the quiet moments of the night in the documentary film Nocturno. Or is it only from the silence that a real nightmare arises?
Hide and Seek • The dark and unknown, at every age, brings back that childhood fear in us, which cries out for warmth and security. What if our bogeyman from childhood is just a poor and unhappy woman from the neighbourhood? The author of the documentary Babajanja set out in search of his fear, which has followed him since childhood. How to hide the first impulses of your body and everything that the body unexpectedly wants in teenage years is the subject of the fiction film Cousins. At the same time, the equally sweet and brutal, dark-humour animation Let Sleeping Dogs Lie deals with the issue of parental secrets in front of children. Moreover, the secret of the challenge lies in the unknown when everything familiar becomes tiresome, as in the case of the protagonist of the film Fall of Our Summer.
Marbles • Youth is beautiful but fragile. Sometimes innocent, and sometimes not. What if we do not have the right to the moments that should belong to her? In the documentary Love Me, young Laetitia searches for love and her place in a world that perceives self-realisation through filtered photographs. The alienated city life of three teenagers is accompanied by the sounds of machines (instead of people) in the animated film Golden Margarita. A friend’s secret slowly but surely extinguishes all the possible carefreeness and brilliance of youth from the team in the fiction film Tomorrow’s in a Few Hours. One should only play with the beauty of youth, just like with the marbles, as long as one can, as in the associative and vivid animation Parade.
As always, all festival programs are completely free!
Let the games beGin!