The participants in the film project were given an object, a line and a character which they had to work into their film. “They had to use a towel, the line ‘I will make you an offer you can’t refuse’ and an international student as a character in their films,” Studium Generale‘s organiser Kirstin Feberwee explained. Each team was given 84 hours to make the film, a slightly easier, reversed variant of the traditional 48 hours of professional competitions. Thanks to the start of winter time, this edition was “even” stretched to 85 hours.
The four films were presented and judged by three jury members in the Erasmus pavilion on Thursday evening. The jury was made up of Harm Smit, Lecturer in Media and Business at Inholland, Annemarie van Waterschoot from the professional variant 48 hour film project Rotterdam and Asli Özgen, Lecturer in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. Apart from The Door and Psalami, two other films were shown: the sci-filike Alex from abroad, which contains stop-motion animation, and OFFER, a horror story about two housemates, with stomach-churning special effects.
Toying with the audience
Who is this Santiago character? Why did the Noémie character hang herself? What was the click in the background all about?
The members of the WILDe Theatre, EUR’s international theatre group, managed to win over the jury with their film The Door. The film tells the story of a female student who kills her boyfriend and then takes her own life. Anyway, that’s what it looks like. “They toy with the audience,” Smit clarified the jury’s choice. “You think you’ve finally got a grip on the story and then there’s another twist in the story and you’ve lost your grip again. We thought it was a very intelligent film.”
According to producer Thelonious Schairer-Penny, that’s exactly what we had in mind. “We wanted people to use their imagination and come up with their own explanation of what The Door wants to convey,” says Schairer-Penny, who assumed the roles of writer, actor and director. “Who is this Santiago character? Why did the Noémie character hang herself? What was the click in the background all about? The viewers can decide for themselves.”
While they were shooting, WILDe’s troupers had to “shift gears”. “The main difference with theatrical productions is that you use the camera to direct how the viewer experiences the story. In other words, you have to act in a different way and think very carefully about the set-up,” says Effie Ophelders, who was responsible for the camerawork as well as editing the film.
Sweating for Jesus
With a little over 24 hours to go, Alp Gasimov and Ivar Laanen, the winners of the People’s Choice Award, still had no idea what they were going to film. “We brainstormed a little on Saturday evening but didn’t have anything on paper until Sunday morning,” says Gasimov. “We then quickly set to work and Psalami was born at about 2 a.m. on Monday night.”
The comic film Psalami, which won the People’s Choice Award, is about a student’s conversion to Jehova’s Fitness (this play on words works better in English). After his world comes crashing down, the student decides to change his life’s course and “sweat for Jesus”. “In this film, we tried to turn a perfectly normal phenomenon into an absurd situation,” says Laanen, who wrote the script and played the lead role. “It was a real challenge to combine all the ingredients into a compelling story,” says Gasimov, who was responsible for shooting and editing the film. “We wanted the set ingredients to form an integral part of a logical story, not just stuck in the plot somewhere.”
The team behind The Door hadn’t expected to win, says Ophelders. “Although the different entries were of similar quality, our story may have had a clearer structure and may have been more fully expanded.” Jury member Hans Smitk described the level of all four entries as “high”. “You could really tell that the makers had been absorbed in and had a lot of fun making the film.”