25 FPS COMPETITION 2021: Reflections of Social Crisis and Return of Masters of Analogue Cinema

The competition programme of the 25 FPS Festival of Experimental Film and Video, whose seventeenth edition will be held from September 23 to 26 in Zagreb, at the Student Centre, brings 27 innovative works from different parts of the world, three of which from Croatia, whose forms and motifs radically redraw, re-examine and cross the established boundaries of the audiovisual medium, at the same time reflecting the critical state of society.

COVID-19, ecological crisis and new media hybrids

Among the topics that concern the authors in this year’s selection, the impact of various social crises and turmoil on our personal identities and relationships with others stands out. In the midst of the pandemic crisis, Belgian audiovisual artist Eva Giolo made the film Flowers Blooming in Our Throats, an intimate and superbly choreographed 16-millimeter poem that symbolically addresses the fragility of interpersonal relationships in domestic quarantine. The lockdown experience also inspired the veteran of Croatian experimental film, Vladislav Knežević, who will present the techno-structural work Imploder, while Austrian artist Friedl vom Gröller decided in 2020 to be very witty in standing up to the year marked by the COVID-19 crisis.

Split-based visual artist Tanja Deman deals with the smouldering ecological disaster in the film essay Horizon – a meditative story about the sea in times of warming and pollution, while Chinese author Yuyan Wang in her work One Thousand and One Attempts to Be an Ocean reached for numerous videos from the Internet to point out to the information and industrial saturation of our society.

Among the achievements that innovatively use the aesthetic and narrative possibilities of new media is My Own Landscapes, an intriguing essay by French director Antoine Chapon on the connection between the military and entertainment video game industry, which takes place entirely in the computer-animated landscape of war video games. There’s also a new media hybrid of award-winning Thai artist Tulapop Saenjaroen , Squish!, who finds inspiration for his playful and black humour sequences in Thai animation and the nightmare of social media and mobile apps.

Masters of analogue film alongside pixel adventurers

A number of fresh works by festival alumni will also take part in the competition, such as the indispensable classic of contemporary material film, Peter Tscherkassky. His new work, Train Again, is an action-packed celluloid collage made up of numerous clips from Hollywood film history, whose frantic alterations, overlaps, rattles and flickers under the unstoppable onslaught of the train ominously hint at the path to ruin. Respected Canadian-Japanese filmmaker Daïchi Saïto returns to the big screen of the SC Cinema with another lavish 35mm symphony entitled earthearthearth, in which the mountain slopes of the Andes sensually pulsate to the rhythm of free improvisations by saxophonist Jason Sharp.

The colours of digital adventurers are defended by the Austrian video art veteran Tina Frank, who will shake our sensors with fierce punk electronic abstraction Frozen Jumper, and festival laureate Peter Burr, who revives the philosophy of perception in the film Black Square through a surge of strobing computer-animated optical illusions inspired by the modernist aesthetics of op-art.

The art field is another common theme of this year’s selection. The Bulgarian new media artist Veneta Androva returns to the festival with AIVA, another sharp and satirical 3D animation using the figure of a handsome humanoid artist to uncover deep-rooted patriarchal patterns in the market art, and the field of art is also dealt with by the photographer and artist Jelena Blagović in her debut film Every Artist For Themselves, Never Quite Together, in a reflective essay inspired by the artistic work of Goran Trbuljak.

25 FPS Festival Awards 

The best films in the 25 FPS Competition will be decided by a three-member Grand Jury, which this year consists of Australian director Pia Borg, German curator Katrin Mundt and Croatian multimedia artist Ivan Marušić Klif. They will award three equivalent Grand Prix. The films also compete for the Critics Award and the Audience Award, while Croatian films also compete for the Green DCP Award, awarded by the 25 FPS Association for Audiovisual Research.

Admission to all screenings and events of the festival is free of charge, and the programme will be held in accordance with the guidelines of the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

Film stills from: Black Square, AIVA, My Own Landscapes, earthearthearth