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Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival, 11th edition

Venice, October 6th. The 11th edition of Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival officially opened. But what is Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival exactly? Ca’ Foscari Short Film Festival is the first film festival in Europe to be entirely conceived, managed and organized by a university. It is a project designed by young people for young people, furthermore, the event is supervised by artistic and executive director Roberta Novielli. This year, a new aspect was introduce: for the first time in the history of the Short Film Festival, it took place in many of Venice’s primary museums. That is to say, every day, different programs took place in different locations.

Following last year’s pandemic, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice had to overcome many difficulties in order to organize this year’s edition, but thanks to the financial support of many partners and a crowdfunding campaign, Ca’ Foscari Short was able to finally happen once again. In fact, this edition offered yet again a broad array of special programs and guest appearances such as Japanese cult film director Tsukamoto Shinya, the one and only “Sandokan” Kabir Bedi, actress Jun Ichikawa and Oscar-candidate Vittorio Sodano. The international independent film scene, Chinese and Asian film scene, young directors, and female directors and so on were the focal points of this edition.

This year’s festival was also centered around 30 short movies coming from the world’s best universities and film academies. Despite the difficulties influencing the film production scene over the last year, more than 2.500 films were submitted for the preliminary selection from which were then selected the 30 best pieces to participate in the International Competition. This year, two short films represented China: Yi Baoxingchen’s short, animated film Dayfly, and Sun Xiangping’s and Gao Lei’s Romantic Eggs (also known as The Seven Eggs). There was also an Italian Chinese director representing Italy called Xin Alessandro Zheng, which just graduated from Milan’s New Academy of Fine Arts. In his short film Where the leaves fall, he tells the tale of a young Italian Chinese man, who after his father’s death is forced to return to China to bring the ashes to his grandfather and be faced with just how much he doesn’t feel like he belongs there, telling this way the tale of many overseas Chinese and the question of their cultural identity. During the International Competition, Yi Baoxingchen’s Dayfly gained a special mention from Guang Hua Culture et Media for it’s innovative use of cinematic language, while Xin Alessandro Zheng’s Where the leaves fall gained a special mention from Italy’s National Film Museum for his artistic contribution.

As mentioned above, the Chinese film scene was one of the main focal points this year. Thanks to Guang Hua Culture et Media’s cooperation, this edition’s objective was to also promote Chinese cinema and entertainment, especially following last year’s racist attacks targeted at Chinese people all over the world, Ca’ Foscari University wanted to encourage as many people as possible to appreciate Chinese culture and millenary history. For this reason, on October 5th, prior to the opening ceremony, Ca’ Foscari Short and Guang Hua Culture and Media together presented the 5th edition of the Chinese Cinematographic Festival in Italy. During the event, Guang Hua’s director Zhang Xiaobei briefly explained the function and objective of the event, then Zhang Yimou’s Shadow and Jia Zhangke’s Ash is purest white where projected for everyone to enjoy. Starting from Ca’ Foscari University, this special program will tour Italy’s main universities.

The Martial Arts genre (wuxia film) was this event’s focal point. As Elena Pollacchi, researcher, and professor at Ca’ Foscari University’s Department of Asian Studies, later explained to us during an interview, Wuxia as a genre is eternal, and it is also a hallmark of Classical Chinese Literature, Theater and Cinema. Furthermore, Chinese Cinema was initially mostly renowned for its Martial Arts films, it can be more easily used as a bridge between the East and the West. Lastly, martial arts is a very broad genre which extends from period pieces set in the classical period to contemporary gangster films, so it can easily link together a vaster public. The Chinese Cinematographic Festival in Italy wasn’t Ca’ Foscari Short’s only special program regarding Chinese and Asian Cinema, there also was East Asia Now!, focusing more broadly on the East Asian cinema scene.

The festival officially closed on October 9th. This edition’s final program included an augmented reality show created by artist and animator Igor Imhoff, and the winners to the International Competition and secondary competitions were then officially announced during the award ceremony.