A few minutes of your time

This weekend, Tel Aviv is one of 70 cities participating in a (very) short film festival.

cartoon shower 88 248 (photo credit: )
cartoon shower 88 248
(photo credit: )
If you have a short attention span, then this is the event for you. The Tres Courts International Film Festival, which is taking place this weekend in 70 cities around the world - including, for the first time, Tel Aviv - features 51 films, all under three minutes in length. "It's a very specific format - expressing an idea in a concise framework," said Ananda Scepka, the Swiss-born director of Katzeret, a Tel Aviv non-profit cultural organization that spearheaded the effort to bring the Paris-based festival to Tel Aviv this year. A lot of the films, but not all, are animated. It's a perfect format for a short film. The only rule is that it's under three minutes long; but otherwise, there are no guidelines or restrictions," said Scepka, adding that the general themes for this year's films when calling for submission last November were change, revolt and revenge. "Many of the entries are student exercises from film school, made without much of a budget. But many of the films are still extremely complicated productions. We had one animated film from a school in Paris that was nominated for best animated short film at the Oscars," said Scepka. The festival, in its 11th year, was originally based only in France, but according to Scepka, at the beginning of the decade it began branching out by accepting foreign entries and launching international screenings, ranging from New York to Seoul. The films compete for four prizes - Best Film, Best Animated Film, Most Original Film and the Most Popular Film, which is chosen by the audience. "Each year, the percentage of French films goes down, as more international entries are submitted. Last year, it was about 40 percent French, and this year I think it's something like 30%. There's even an Iranian entry this year," said Scepka. Not to mention the first-ever Israeli entry, a film called Silence, by Tel Aviv University film student Hovav Shoshan. "I made the film last year as an exercise in my directors class," said the 29-year-old aspiring filmmaker, who is graduating this spring. In the film, two young girls encounter each other in the same cramped hiding place as they try to evade soldiers, implied to be Nazis. Despite its brevity, the film manages to incorporate suspense, plot twists, violence and tenderness. "There's that focus on hiding and survival, and understanding what that entails," said Shoshan. "You need to be precise in every moment and really have it detailed. There's a short time you have to relay the relevant information. But at the same time, you don't want to feel you're cramming too much in. You also have to let the audience use their imagination and stand alone if they want." Shoshan, who is also a member of the musical dance troupe Mayumana, as well as the stand-up comedy group Spasm, is intent on pursuing film as a career. In addition to Silence being selected for the festival, his work has also been recognized by the Peres Center for Peace, which awarded him a scholarship to make a film about dreams. The Tres Court film festival takes place on Saturday night at the Castille Building in south Tel Aviv on Rehov Alfasi. Another screening will take place on Sunday night in Ramallah.