#intothespotlight: BIEFF 2018 – Embracing Otherness

If you are living in Bucharest and you are passionate about cinematography, you have certainly heard about Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival (BIEFF). Founded in 2010, the festival is celebrating its 8th edition this year, and it is growing bigger and bolder from one year to another. In 2018, the festival will take place between March 26th and April 1st at Cinema Peasant Museum and Elvire Popesco Cinema. Don’t forget to be open-minded and curious because BIEFF is not an ordinary festival.

As I was saying, I am quite sure that BIEFF does not need any other introduction. The experimental and innovative films brought yearly by BIEFF are hard to forget (in the full sense of the word). I heard about the festival for the first time when I was a University freshman; I had just moved to Bucharest and had found out that they were looking for volunteers for the next edition. I submitted my application, I went to the interview but I wasn’t selected. But my BIEFF story doesn’t end here; sequentially, I was a spectator, a guest, an intern, a production assistant and this year, I am again part of the audience. Therefore, I decided to share with you more about BIEFF 2018 because I already know how much work and passion this festival involves.

This year’s edition is based on the general theme ‘Embracing Otherness’, enforcing another empathy exercise. And when I was saying that BIEFF is a special festival, I wasn’t joking at all. Besides awarded films and successful experiments, the festival also brings to Bucharest’s cinemas projects signed by visual artists, which are part of museum and gallery exhibitions; the projects can be seen very rare on the big screen, especially in Romania. Among other films, last year’s opening night included Poesia sin fin by Jodorowsky, and at the closing event featured Manifesto signed by Julian Rosefeldt.

This year’s programme is also complex and diverse and includes films from Cannes, Rotterdam and Sarajevo Film Festival. Therefore, I contacted Dan Angelescu (manager of the festival and associate curator) and Adina Marin (programme coordinator) to tell us more about the 2018 edition, which starts on March 26th. Below you can find an interesting interview with them, which includes a brief BIEFF retrospective, from its beginnings until the present moment (and some future plans), and some recommendations from this year’s schedule, in case you don’t know what to choose.

P.S.: Did you know that in 2013, at the 4th edition of BIEFF, the opening night included the national premiere of ‘The Zero Theorem’ by Terry Gilliam? And that Terry Gilliam attended the festival? Some of us are still regretting that we were too young to attend (hello, Melissa) or we did not live in Bucharest (yours truly).BIEFF truly rocks!

Starting with 2010, Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival (BIEFF) takes place in Bucharest, where it brings the newest and boldest experimental short and feature film productions. The festival reached its 8th edition this year. Briefly, how did it appear?

The festival, having an educational purpose in mind, was created by Mister Copel Moscu (professor at National University of Theatre and Film “I.L. Caragiale” and National University of Arts Bucharest), together with Adina Pintilie (director and artistic manager of the festival). BIEFF was developed for the students who want to become visual artists or film directors, and have certain boldness or their own cinematographic universe, so that they could have a platform where to show their projects; a platform through which they could also meet curators and distributors, and could find out how this field is developing worldwide. Our objective is to show that their projects can be part of a whole circuit, and that besides what they have learned in school about film, their possibilities are infinite.

How do you feel about the festival’s evolution from 2010 until now?

Firstly, BIEFF developed in the past years a curating approach. Every programme has its theme and the films are connected. These themes capture the contemporary context in which the films are created and encourage the public to question the way of understanding the surrounding reality. For example, this year, the cinema is like a forum where we explore the diversity of ideas that surround us; we want to create a debate regarding the borders which still separate us, every film being like a communication platform and a source of new perspectives. We want to see the world throughout different eyes, the other’s eyes.

Moreover, BIEFF developed over the years with the help of some partnerships made with similar prestigious festivals and institution in Europe. Among others, we are glad to be supported by Rotterdam Film Festival, where the short film selection is one of the bravest. Yearly, they are testing the limits of the cinematographic language and promoting projects that are on the fine line between cinema and visual art.

We try to extend and question the notion of experimental and we present films that have the courage to go on different paths, to innovate, without necessarily sticking to the rules. We promote cinematographic innovation as a space of freedom of expression, an area of inclusion. We think that these aspects attracted the public; the themes bring into the cinema a diverse audience, who understands that the cinematographic innovation isn’t a niche, and that BIEFF has seductive films which make you wonder. Also, the Q&A sessions that take place after the screenings are truly interesting. This year, we have 25 directors who attend the festival and are looking forward to your questions.

In 2018, BIEFF takes place between March 26th and April 1st, and this year’s theme is ‘Embracing Otherness’. Please tell us three highlights which should not be missed.

The International Competition is an important highlight which should not be missed. It has five themed sections which approach important problems of our lives: how do we distinguish the reality from manipulation, what will be the results of the not-very-good relationship between human and nature, what is the level of intimacy in the digital era, how does the world look like from a feminine perspective, and last but not least, a glance into the artist himself, who reveals his feelings and anxieties.

Then we have Berlinale Spotlight: Forum Expanded, a special three-part programme which includes ten of the most interesting and innovative experimental films of Berlinale. For years, BIEFF has had a remarkable institutional partnership with Berlinale Forum Expanded and Arsenal Institute of Berlin, and this year’s Spotlight programme is a big step forward in this collaboration.

Pour la bonne bouche, the closing night film ‘The Green Fog’ signed by the Canadian director Guy Maddin should not be missed. He is a well-known and much-appreciated filmmaker, but his films were not very present in Romania (mainly just at TIFF and BIEFF). We are honoured to ‘repair’ this injustice and we invite the audience to the Sunday evening screening, which will close this year’s edition with a film that Guy Maddin considers to be a tribute to Hitchcock’s famous ‘Vertigo’, but which is more than this – it is a celebration of the cinema as an art.

What can you tell us about the Romanian film at BIEFF 2018?

This year, the Romanian experimental film is well represented in BIEFF’s programme. The films’ main theme is based on identity, obviously using diverse forms of expression. Watching all the Romanian films, you will have a deep feeling that the identity is a precious thing which must not be misplaced or let go to ruin, because when it disappears, bad things can happen to us. We won’t disclose more, because we think that it is important for the public to discover all the deep and sometimes dramatic feelings of these films step by step. This programme can also be seen on the last day of the festival, Sunday, April 1st.

At the 2018 edition of BIEFF we have more Romanian projects than ever also for celebrating the Prize for Promoting the Romanian Culture Worldwide, which we received at the beginning of this year from the National Cultural Fund Administration for ‘an initiative which activated international collaborations and partnerships and provided the meeting opportunity between the international audience and the artists and artistic productions from Romania’. This is an award which deeply honors us.

What should the audience know about the opening film Jeannette, the Childhood of Joan of Arc (dir. Bruno Dumont)?

Joan of Arc has that heroic spirit, being a saint canonized by the Roman-Catholic Church, and her story inspired thousands of artworks, including cinematographic ones. And here comes Bruno Dumont, with a little regard for the whole atmosphere drowned into veneration and incense fragrance, who brings us a story about Joan’s childhood, created as a musical, on electro-metal rhythms, with nuns that frenetically shake their heads like being at rock concerts. Bruno Dumont said in an interview that the cinematography is a mystification, but this does not affect at all the emotions that we feel, on the contrary. He said that if we believe, the miracle happens and so we get to see the truth.

This year, besides of the collaboration with Berlinale, Rotterdam and Cannes Film Festival (Quinzaine des Réalisateurs section), BIEFF starts a collaboration with the prestigious Sarajevo Film Festival. What to expect from this new programme – Identity and Belonging?

Sarajevo Film Festival has a well-configured section dedicated to short films, called European Shorts, which selects projects of young and brave artists, who force the boundaries of the cinematographic language.  The five films presented in the programme present the sense of belonging, a feeling which functions like an anchor. But an anchor can be a symbol of safety and stability, or, on the contrary, it can represent a wider closing and inflexibility.  The programme has one single not-to-be-missed screening on Friday, March 30th, at Cinema Peasant Museum.

Finally, how do you imagine BIEFF will look like after another eight editions?

Well, firstly, we would like to always keep up with the latest trends in moving image. We are constantly watching a lot of films; the number of sources is increasing, we receive and we ask for projects, and we create the programme according to the most surprising approaches which are discovered by our pre-selection team. The final selection comes organically; we do not have predefined themes, but we create them based on the common subject of the chosen projects. We want to remain open and to be inspired by new things on every edition.

Just as we now bring in cinemas artworks created for museums and galleries, we would also like to get out of the cinema more and more and present art installations, complex artworks, multiplatform projects. As the festival’s concept states, we want to support the broadening of the cinema notion in Romania and promote interdisciplinary approaches, without boundaries.  After eight more editions, we want to surprise and to be surprised, to discover and rediscover each time what the cinema is and what it can become.

This year’s edition of BIEFF takes place between 26th of March and 1st of April, at Cinema Peasant Museum and Elvire Popesco Cinema. The full schedule can be found on their website, and the tickets can be purchased on Eventbook.

An article by Romina Banu
English translation by Andreea Andrei


Latest News
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Subscribe to our newsletter if you would like to be up-to-date with all Romanian film industry news. By subscribing to the ADFR Newsletter, you accept the Confidential Policy. More information about the confidential practices can be found here. You can always unsubscribe by clicking the link at the end of every newsletter or sending an email to