Alongside students and workers, the 10th edition of STIFF is made out of these 11 curated programme blocks of the best student films in the world:
Aberrations • This block offers new perspectives and widens the view on a problem that has been observed, unsuccessfully, from too near and too narrowly. In the Russian drama Red, Yellow, Green, a young car mechanic is trying to save her father from committing suicide, asking questions about family, love, and life. The Hungarian animated The Garden of Heart presents a young artist struggling with an existential crisis. This opening block ends with the Slovak documentary After the Wedding, exploring how to harmonise passions and living together in a relationship of 12 years.
Prophecies • This block explores how the past shapes our future, and how the signs around us only acquire meaning over time. Documentary film Uncle Vakho’s Dream offers a quiet insight into the human soul through the life of a blind man battling his suffering. In the Croatian animated Breaking the ice, frozen landscapes form the background for two protagonists to develop a friendship that will help them overcome solitude. Fur follows a journey of a girl in love grasping with the realities of love. The block ends with the Georgian fiction Runaway asking hard questions of compassion and interfamilial relationships. This block offers a number of profound tales that encourage us to think about the interaction of past and future events, and how signs often reveal themselves at most unexpected moments.
Constellations • This block reminds us of the importance of human relationships and how they intertwine, often playing a crucial role in our upbringing. The Polish A Beautiful Wildflower Meadow shows a neurotic father battling inner demons while trying to overcome the challenges of parenthood. The Croatian fiction Short Cut Grass is imbued with considerations on the importance of the community that shapes our everyday lives. The last film in this block, the Dutch documentary Filho, is inviting us to ponder on the questions of identity, origins, and the relationships that form us.
Beats • This block explores the dynamics of the future, especially the fast pace and instability of it. How to address the unknown, what frightens us about it, what is it that makes us uncomfortable – these are some of the questions posed in this block. The Czech fiction Waiting Room deals with the protagonist facing an uncertain future, as well as endometriosis. The Slovenian Joža takes us into the world of an acting student coping with unforeseen circumstances in life. Samira follows the life story of an Arabian lesbian artist researching identities and family relationships. Finally, animated The Cat poses the questions of transformation and of leaving one’s past behind. This block takes us closer to that feeling of unknown that makes us queasy and frightened, and makes us think about insecurities and managing unexplored circumstances.
In Between • This block brings deep introspection into those moments in life when it seems like time itself has stopped. Those moments when the routine halts, when passengers are waiting for something that will change their faith, when all the connections are broken, when people are cut off from the world. In the Croatian documentary Knin – Zadar a railroad operator keeps open a line that hasn’t been in use for a decade, and the time just stands still. The German documentary Border Conversations follows two humanitarians at work. The last film in this block, Fragmentations, explores obstacles within families, and how they deal with all the in-between situations that life throws at them. This block invites reflection of those moments in life when we are confronted by uncertainties and delays, and how they form our fates.
Breaking points • This block explores those moments in life when we face decisions or situations that irretrievably take us towards unchartered waters. These changes are sometimes expected, sometimes surprising, infallibly inevitable and always present in our lives. The Dutch documentary How shall we comfort ourselves explores perennial social transformation and unstoppable search for meaning, showcasing how places and their purpose can change over time. Boiling follows a young pair going through difficulties due to corrosive influences from their surroundings. Friendly Fire transforms the innocuous game of a Palestinian boy and an Israeli soldier into an uneven high-stakes battle. Finally, Men in Blue is a tale of Indian immigrants stripped of their dignity. This programme block brings stories about key moments and how people deal with them, exploring various aspects of change and their consequences on the lives of individuals and of the society as a whole.
Hushing • This programme block explores the theme of perseverance and adaptation in the life of an individual. While dealing with pressures and challenges, the characters in this block find their own ways to cope with adversities. The Israeli drama Our Son sees a mother fighting to get a place in school for her autistic son. Tense drama Herstory follows the 17-year-old Ola in her fight for female independence. Animated fantasy And then… questions the consequences of complete and total personal freedom, while Eva, a Russian documentary film that closes this block, follows a former literature teacher who became a porno-actress. This block brings us stories of challenges, perseverance and quest for personal freedom, exploring various aspects of lives of individuals dealing with pressures and changes in their surroundings.
Meanwhile • This block explores the themes of transformation and renewal in the lives of individuals after break-ups and losses. It deals with different stories of people going through rough times, but finding strength and starting anew. In the Polish drama After Sunday, former partners meet again in an emotional encounter, questioning the nature of break-ups and new beginnings. The Croatian animated Bird House follows a relationship from the inception until the break-up. The Estonian Days Without explores the search for meaning and togetherness. This block ends with the Israeli documentary Unwell Mind conveying a message on the importance of friendship. This programme block brings us stories of transformation, strength and inspiring new beginnings, of people searching for bravery and renewal of life when it is falling through the cracks.
Blaze • The beauty of everyday life can best be noticed in everyday places. Uniqueness is all around us, even in the saddest moments. Sometimes, all it takes to discover the magic of life in everyday situations is to take a glance below the surface, where people, stories and moments blaze in their own distinctive ways. This programme block brings us stories that glow in a special way, and explores different aspects of human experience. In the Spanish fiction Daydreaming So Vividly About Our Spanish Holidays the topic is the magic of summer that shapes the experiences of young people. The Serbian documentary Anatomy of Hypomania sees a protagonist find the peculiarities of lids in all it’s details. The block closes with Babyboy, a story about Vincent who is searching for his place in the world, somewhere between childhood and adulthood. This programme block invites us to put on our pink glasses and fall in love with the mundane moments by delving deeper in everyday life. Through these tales we probe the magnificent nature of human existence and develop a new perspective on the beauty of everyday situations.
Out loud • Brings tales that consider important aspects of communications and human relationships. This programme block reminds us how, sometimes, we talk too much, and don’t say the significant bit, leaving the important things unsaid in a sea of vacuous words and everyday routines. The Croatian fiction It’s not cold for Mosquitoes sees the protagonist trying to soothe his isolation through incessant conversation with his guests. The documentary film Life Line is inspiring us to respect what we do have in life by showing us a warm relationship between an aunt and her niece. The Slovak animated Ana talks of the experience of fighting anorexia. This programme block ends with Liquid Bread that explores changes in the dynamics of a family, and difficulties of communication. This block encourages us to think about the importance of communicating frankly, and how relationships and human connections form with words and gestures.
Tremors • This programme block explores lives marked by obstacles and challenges, but that nevertheless find inner strength and a spark that keeps them afloat. Even when the obstacles are not warranted and difficult to overcome, life can still keep the brightness and strength if we choose to fight for happiness. Films in this programme block carry inspirational stories that show struggle, resilience, and inspiration of the individuals confronting hard fortunes. The Israeli drama No Hearts in Stock shows two young girls putting their lives on hold while waiting for a new heart from donors, facing the fight to survive and hoping for a better future. In the Hungarian animated Lights society casts away light bulbs, and every lightness can drive away darkness. The next film in line is the Canadian documentary The Repair Shop, an inspirational tale of queer car mechanics. The last film of this block, German feature film Of kisses and capes, is the story of a young disabled couple planning their first trip. The film explores their love story and their desire to realize their dreams. This programme block brings us tales of resilience, willpower, and inspiration in facing obstacles. These stories stimulate us to think how life can shine even in the most dire circumstances.
All the programmes of the festival are free of charge – as always!