Editorial – 2021 Lab Competition
The Lab competition is twenty years old and still going strong. There’s a certain rhythm and music, there’s an urge, a creative Urge, that Vincent Menjou-Cortès recreates so well in his film (Pulsion) and that simply must be let out!
This unique edition of the Lab boasts an exceptional selection of films, loaded with surprises, and confirmation that documentary filmmaking is the playground that contemporary artists gravitate towards. In fact, there are no fewer than ten short film documentaries in this year’s selection.
Among them, Paz Corona films a country that has not behaved wisely: Santiago 1973-2019 is a furious polemical tract, both feverish and chilling, written in the heat of battle along the frontlines.
Xacio Baño (who won the CANAL+ award in 2015 for Ser e Voltar, which also garnered a special jury mention) dives into the dangerous waters of Spain on the verge of Civil War in a work of historical research brimming with extraordinary creativity and poetry. Augas Abisais possesses the clear-eyed modesty of documentaries that show the work of time, the word made flesh, well away from noisy postmodern imagery.
Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis hails from Clermont-Ferrand. As a child, he discovered the world of film in the Jean Cocteau theater at the Maison de la Culture, and was later guided and supervised as a film student at the Blaise-Pascal Highschool. He perfectly illustrates the way that Sauve qui peut le court métrage assists projects throughout the year. His two previous films Ondes noires [Black Waves] (2017) and Swatted were selected for competition at the Festival, with the former going on to be purchased by Frac Auvergne, and the latter winning the Lab Special Jury Prize in 2019 and now available on the Lab’s 20th Anniversary Blu-ray disc 20 ans de labo. Last year, he was part of the writing residency at Moulins working on a future project. By finding the right distance in filming testimonials, his most recent film, Maalbeek, which was selected for Critics’ Week, takes a subtle look at the attacks that plunged Belgium into mourning in 2015. Traquer, by Noëlle Bastin and Baptiste Bogaert, is a fascinating family story with delicious dialogue between the two cousins during a hunting party, an activity that one of them abhors and the other adores.
Yet documentaries in all their forms are not the only films here that have their finger on the pulse of our modern world: even the most playful animated film, Orgiastic Hyper-plastic, by the veteran Englishman Paul Bush, full of colors and music, shows a society sick with overconsumption, a society that’s managed to create a sixth continent from millions of tons of plastic waste carried along by the ocean’s currents.
In Homeless Home Alberto Vázquez uses orcs, witches and other characters worthy of Tolkien to depict a society in crisis, full of questions that ring true today, continuing his unique work, with its incisive dialogue and very personal style. Unicorn Blood and Decorado, two of his previous shorts, had the honor of being selected at Clermont-Ferrand in 2014 and 2017, respectively. His upcoming feature film, Unicorn Wars will premiere in May 2022.
With colorful poetry hovering between the fantastic and the tragic, Geoffroy de Crécy’s Empty Places, completed just before the first lockdown in France, captures those spaces deserted by people, for example in the scene where an abandoned soda can is stuck in an elevator, bouncing in endless movement. Like an omen of the crisis that was about to hit us a few weeks later.
The Lab Competition is twenty years old and still going strong, filled with an irrepressible desire to show us, to make us think and to denounce wrongs. In this very special year, our uncategorizable competition continues vibrantly, more than ever, thanks to the gaze that filmmakers bestow upon a world that is not always in good shape. In the dead center of the storm, their eyes sizzle, capturing the most beautiful images and the promise of new efforts.