Cinemas, theatres, musty community centres closed until April, these are hard times for Italian cinéphiles. However… not necessarily! When the going gets tough, art comes to rescue us; here’s our recipe to survive quarantine: the best short films of the last years, free online and reviewed by AsinoVola’s newsroom. This is only the first part, more coming soon. Long live resilience, long live cinema!

Green Screen Gringo – Douwe Dijkstra
Seen by Elena Saltarelli

The last Dijkstra effort sees him as a tourist in a contemporary Brazil, hidden behind a green screen and with the respectable target that is documenting life who pass through that. The result is a fortunate union between events and human types, that highlights (unconsciously?) the socio-political result and the bottomless incongruity of the country in which they live. An admirable post-production work literally mixes and decontextualizes the Brazilian realities, connecting a nation that encloses extreme differences; GSG swings between documentary and experimental, as well as between middle class and favelas and cheapened profane and proud history. It links without touching, letting others speak, staying on the essential Shakespearian leitmotiv which totus mundus agit istrionem.

Guaxuma – Nara Normande
Seen by Yorgos Kostianis

Sand is often perceived as a metaphor for the passing of time, as in an hourglass.
The sands of time trickle through our fingers much like the fading memories of yore. Perhaps that was the reasoning behind Nara Normande’s choice to employ it as medium for her film Guaxuma. The short retraces the friendship of the director and her childhood friend Tayra growing up on the sandy beaches of Guaxuma in Brazil. By mixing sand with various other materials –while integrating them in stop-motion sequences blended with actual photographs, Normande delivers a unique and immersive visual aesthetic. The warmth of her fond memories scattered like sand in the sea breeze is palpable; as is her grief and nostalgia for an era long gone. “I learnt to keep the sea within me” the director confesses before closing her film with a hauntingly beautiful humming the melancholic lyrics of Do you realize by the Flaming Lips.

Sirene – Zara Dwinger
Seen by Margherita Fontana

Zara Dwinger’s Sirene poetically describes the confusion of the teenager Kay and his emerging feminine sensibility. This cold and even surreal north, the young boy spends his time among motorbikes, mud, (male) friends and alcohol. This uninspiring routine is suspended by the arrival of Melody, a charming girl who stops on the river with her floating house. The tender friendship between the two provides Kay with a renewed insight on himself, opening the way to the exploration of his femininity, at least until the definitive breaking point. With Sirene, Dwinger depicts a dream about love, friendship and puberty, without giving up the realism.

All These Creatures – Charles Williams
Seen by Margherita Fontana

«No one knows for sure which part is a sickness and which part is just you. We learned about all these creatures inside us».

Tempest tries to put together the memories of his childhood, marked by his father’s mental illness. Painful reminiscences and apparently meaningless details form a complex mosaic that speaks about who we have been and who we are. All these creatures that haunt us belong to a physic and intellectual dimension as well. They are the molecules, the cells we are made of and that make “us”; but they are also the past moments which contribute to form our “persona”. The short by Charles Williams, winner of Palme d’Or at Cannes 2018, is an existential poem about the layers forming the I. Touching and philosophical at the same time.

Ugly –  Nikita Diakur
Seen by Carlotta Magistris

Ugly, by the Russian director Nikita Diakur, is a sort of allegorical tale whose plot follows the wanders of an ugly stray cat that’s looking for affection but is repeatedly rejected by those he meets on his path until he finally finds someone to take care of him. The simplicity of the plot is mirrored by an animation which creates a surreal, extremized, chaotic and occasionally violent universe standing in full contrast with the delicacy of the story. The story is told through a paradoxical aesthetics which creates a sense of alienation in the viewer and leads him to a full immersion in the computerized aesthetics where the story comes to life.

Take me please – Oliver Hegyi
Seen by Carlotta Magistris

A sometimes dystopian animation that deals with loneliness after the end of a love story, Take me please explores and represents with effective colourful and psychedelic metaphors the inability of a man to re-connect with his own emotions within reality, whose spaces continue to re-emerge day by day. From the typical encounter in a supermarket with her and her new boyfriend, to the efforts of a new emotional involvement, to the sensation of death and re-birth, the mind travels on fast but self-destructive tracks, searching for relief, or at least for an apparent well-being which no longer seem to be able to suit the inner self or to reach an at least apparent happy ending.

The Passage – Kitao Sakurai, Philip Burgers
Seen by Vanessa Mangiavacca

Phil (played by the brilliant Philip Burger, known for his character Dr. Brown) is a sort of Neanderthal man, who appears to have fallen from the sky and accidentally landed on Earth. Bizarre situations follow one another, creating a non-linear narration: random clown gags pile up in a brand new version of the classic silent cinema. Phil cannot speak but succeeds in communicating with his body and with his malleable expressions: languages from all over the world alternate without being deliberately translated. Watching The Passage is like zooming through different cultures, events, landscapes, backgrounds, and different film genres. It is a joyful and peaceful reconciliation with diversity, an authentic human odyssey.