The 60th Brno 16 Short Film Festival Ended Last Saturday

During the festival, many visitors attended various screenings, exhibitions, discussions and interesting workshops. Photo: Kino Art / Brno16.

Brno, Oct 14 (BD) – I have been visiting Brno 16 regularly for several years, even before I moved to Brno six years ago. The moment that is dearest to me, for obvious reasons, is when I was in competition, in 2011, with my short “Never so Close“.

Over the years, the audience has increased both its audiences and the number of events and workshops, but has maintained its authenticity. “We expect attendance similar to last year, when around 2,000 people came to the festival,” said Martina Marešová, the festival’s marketing representative.

This year’s screenings of short films took place at the reconstructed Kino Art, at Villa Löw-Beer, at the French language academy Alliance Francaise, and at No Art on Radnická.

As part of the main program, visitors followed an international competition with 40 participating short films from all over the world, as well as the Czechoslovakian 16, a competitive section of Czech and Slovak films. The winners were decided by representatives of an international jury, a student jury and the audiences.

The festival organizers also provided an accompanying program and several workshops. One in particular deserves a mention: “Filmgaming: The Making of Film Scenes in Unreal Engine 4”, organized by Vladimír Jaške, Senior Video Artist at Bohemia Interactive. This workshop had particular resonance in a city like Brno, which has among its strong points that it hosts some of the most important companies in Central Europe connected to video game development, not least 2k Czech, the premier game development studio with successful games like Mafia I, II and III behind it. Like very few cities in Europe, Brno even has a state secondary school that teaches Motion Design & Game Design, Střední škola umění a designu (SSUD Brno).

The main award went to Carlo Francisco Manatad’s film The Imminent Immanent, and another award chosen by the international student jury went to Xiao Xian by Jiajie Yu Yan.

Carlo Francisco Manatad’s film “The Imminent Immanent” came first. Credit: B16.

The first ever Czechoslovakian 16 award was given to Concrete Times by Lucie Kašová. The main jury also awarded honorable mentions to the films Weightlifter (Dmytro Sukholytkyy-Sobchuk) and Fall of Rome (Balázs Turai), and the Audience Award went to the film Sound of Unexpected Death.


Sound of Unexpected Death, by Alexander Sagmo, which won the Audience Award, is a rather special case. In reality this is a medium-length film, and therefore has a different, more filmic, breath than the others. Furthermore the story is tremendously contemporary.

The Audience Award went to the film Sound of Unexpected Death. Credit: B16.

In a sequence of everyday scenarios, what appears to be a normal night develops in the same short space of time. But that is not at all. Intertwining of people, places and sounds: the steps on the sidewalks of an anonymous Danish town, the engine of a bus, the urban buzz of the night. Without neglecting the music of the locals and the voices of the people, they are mostly the noises of everyday life that characterize the sound environment of Sound of Unexpected Death; but something disturbs this everyday atmosphere: in the distance you can hear shots fired in bursts. This is the sound that inextricably links the six scenarios that unfold over the 30-minute duration of the “short film”. In other words, it is the story of a massacre (which primarily reminds us of the parisian Bataclan).

Sagmo’s film is very articulate and has many advantages. The most obvious is certainly the richness of the sound – edited by Eske Nørholm – which manages to replicate the complexity of the narrative structure through significant nuances in the differentiation of the environments. At the same time, the cinematography, edited by André Hansen, is used to differentiate the environments, doing justice both to predominantly nocturnal exteriors, and to very cold and aseptic domestic interiors, passing through “psychedelic” moments in the disco scenes. Sagmo – who is also the screenwriter – creates a dramatic plot based on the deconstruction of the narrative unity: all the micro-narratives we see are connected to each other, but without a connection between cause and effect.

The narratives will eventually converge and only there will they find the lost unity. The film is particularly interesting also due to the thematic density and the richness of cinematographic references that interact effectively. Coldness, alienation, incommunicability, psychological and physical violence are the recurring features of the adolescent world outlined by Sagmo. The concerns and youthful problems are analyzed in their broad and contradictory context. These narrative and thematic features of Sound of Unexpected Death are very close to  to illustrious precedents in contemporary cinema, such as: Elephant (2003) by Gus Van Sant and Polytechnique (2009) by Denis Villeneuve.

In other ways, the atmosphere of technological addiction that runs through the film seems to openly recall Black Mirror. The ending deserves a reflection of its own which summarizes what has been said so far. The sound of gunfire that regularly crosses the film leaves us perceiving an action that is happening and that we cannot see. Only in the end we are allowed to observe something: not the shooting, but the massacre, the direct consequence of that action. If until this moment the mimetic register has been monolithic, now a dream register is suddenly replaced. A plongèe reveals the bodies lying in the blood in an aesthetic composition as refined as it is grotesque. This terribly lyrical and macabre vision is accompanied by a symphony of illuminated black mirror ringtones that ring brightly in the midst of horror and unexpected death. A masterful example of “sublime negative”, in the face of which we risk experiencing a pleasant aesthetic experience alongside our horror.

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