Love Film Festival


Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Love Film Festival
"As a project, Love Film Festival is impressive - four directors, four countries, polylingual, starting in 2009 and finishing (by my arithmetic) in 2016. As a film, maybe less so."

An ocean-crossing love affair, short film festivals as islands in a chronological archipelago, a voyage of mutual discovery between creative types. He an actor, hoping to diversify, she a writer, winning awards. Short film their medium, and this an anthology of sorts of shorts of sorts - one writer, two characters, multiple directors, and perhaps a year or two between episodes, and maybe a bit too much, maybe a bit too long, maybe a bit too stereotypical, and that's despite its discussions of subversion, of what love stories are, of what sacrifices relationships require.

There is Lucy (Leandra Leal) and Adrian (Manolo Carona), and a lot of alcohol, and a festival hookup that becomes something much more involved, with arms and legs growing from this relationship in the form of other film-makers, actors, meeting again at and around other festivals as we add a Lucero and a Du and a DJ and a Camila and allusions to a Gregorio and a prize here and a film there and a succession of iPhones and cameras from DSLRs to a four-eyed pull-cord Lomographic SuperSampler, and that's just the ones in the action, not those recording it.

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As a project, Love Film Festival is impressive - four directors, four countries, polylingual, starting in 2009 and finishing (by my arithmetic) in 2016. As a film, maybe less so. Your reviewer is pretty confident that there are probably some people whose short film festival experiences are all whirlwind affairs and copious alcohol (not necessarily in that order) rather than a grim shuffle between keyboard and screen and screen and keyboard punctuated only by leafing through catalogues and paging through spreadsheets and the occasional sandwich. They are probably also people who use the word 'romantic' without thinking of indebted syphilitics trading poesy for ill-advised adventurism in foreign wars. This is possibly a film for them.

It is a romance, certainly, and the multi-city leap-skip-hop of its recurrent "one year laters" will doubtless appeal to those fans of Before Sunset and so on, of those who hope for better lives, of "one true loves" and grand passions, of star-crossed and winsome and handsome. This is clearly a film made by people who love film - the snippets of short film we see 'twixt the shoulders of the couple seated certainly seem spot on. The festival experiences are a touch more glamorous than most, but that's part of the romance. Manuela Dias' film (and as she's the sole writer that's a fair description even if she shares directing credit) is trying something, and that effort is to be applauded.

The presence within the film of a film that's based on the core relationship does invite suspicions that this might be a recursive 'roman a clef' but it is perhaps in the details that suggest obfuscated anecdote that make the film strongest - the hotel picture become breakfast tray, the door-stopping award, the six year gestation ensuring that 2009 looks like 2009 looked because that was 2009 that was shot. It's not quite Boyhood, but it's visible in the cast as events unfold - these are people changing in fact, even as the fiction unfolds.

There are weaknesses - limited capacity for re-shoots aside, there are some issues with sound that are boringly technical, the limitations of location and the noises of microphone setups - and it's an unapologetic romance, a proper girl-meets-boy, from near-miss to meet-cute to star-crossed to star-struck and for all the logistical ambition and achievement it's differentiated more by setting than by sentiment. Weaknesses are not the whole of it though, there are strengths, undoubtedly, two convincing central performances, great use of various locations, and as a glimpse into the international Latin (American) film festival circuit it's both love story and gazetteer.

There are a few ways to read the title, but the most apt is that this is a miniature festival of films about love - five, all told, and charming, and thought it's not for everyone it shows enough film-loving audiences to deserve one of its own.

Reviewed on: 17 Jun 2015
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A love affair set against the backdrop of the short film festival circuit.

Director: Juancho Cardona, Vinicius Coimbra, Manuela Dias, Bruno Safadi

Writer: Manuela Dias, Manuela Dias

Starring: Manolo Cardona, Ángela Vergara, Leandra Leal, Nanda Costa, Eduardo Moscovis, Natália Lage, Gustavo Machado, Ângela Leal, Álvaro Bayona

Year: 2014

Runtime: 96 minutes

Country: Brazil, US, Portugal, Colombia


EIFF 2015

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