The Flicks 2018
Like last year, the Flicks 2018 was received with much enthusiasm by those interested in student-made short fiction, documentary, and animation movies as the tickets were completely sold out. A total of thirty-two works from nineteen different countries were shown from the 14th till the 16th of March. In the end, “It’s Just a Gun,” a short film from the USA was announced as the best picture. Curious about what the Flicks 2018 had to offer and what it lacked, I decided to go to the festival and ask the members of the organizing committee, the jury and some attendants some questions.
Many impressive animations, a mixture of good and poor films
Having judged the films based on their technical qualities, cohesion of storytelling, and their message, the jury shared their opinions about the highlights of the festival. Alexandra, a postgraduate student at RUG, was impressed with the creative narratives and technical finesse of most of the animated movies, particularly the Belgian animation “Count Your Courses” as it was “extremely funny and incredibly made.” Veerle, a PhD student, thinks that “It’s Just a Gun,” is a well-made short film that due to its contemporary relevance should be seen by everybody. Amir, an independent filmmaker, believes that some of the films were “very artistic,” some unexpectedly “very experimental and surreal,” and some were “quite tedious” and “poorly done.” The plot twist in the Russian-made film “Zugzwang” was “very clever,” according to him. Moreover, the superb acting and the tragic ending in “Joy,” a German production, set the film among the few ones that moved the audience the most. In general, all the three jury members agreed that most of the animation films were well-made and had original stories. As for the fiction and documentary films, however, as Veerle observed, the Flicks 2018 offered a mix of high- and low-quality works partly because some works were made by groups of students trained as professional filmmakers and the rest by amateur filmmakers.
No film from the Netherlands, but there is hope
Whereas the Flicks 2018 presented a diverse mix of films in terms of themes, it offered modest diversity in terms of continental variety. European and American productions outnumbered the rest with the French and US productions dominating the list of the selected films, and much to my surprise, there was not a single Dutch production present let alone anything from Groningen. As I wondered about the reason why there was no submission from Groningen, the organizing committee said that the absence of a film school in the city might partly explain that. Moreover, the ‘international’ scope of the festival might have given off a wrong impression, making filmmakers based in Groningen think the festival is exclusive to international filmmakers. Giulia, who attended the festival on the last day, suggested that if the Flicks was not exclusive to student films, it would be more likely that it could encourage indie filmmaking in Groningen. However, on the bright side, Hannah Cox, a committee member, believes the films presented in the Flicks are capable of stimulating filmmakers in Groningen.
Expectations and suggestions
In terms of aesthetic qualities, the jury thinks, overall, the Flicks 2018 did not present a high-quality standard, rather was pleasing to a broad audience. The selection of some works showed that the organizing committee had compromised the quality of the festival in order to make it more amusing; much as “it is not necessarily a bad thing,” as Veerle pointed out, if this trend continues, the Flicks cannot shape an identity for itself as a film festival. Furthermore, as I agreed with the jury, while the Flicks is expected to inspire Groningen-based filmmakers to make movies and animations, it seems that the festival has failed in that regard. Alexandra suggested that the festival has declined in terms of “openness” to creative ideas over the last two years and has not done enough to motivate “the creative minds of Groningen.” This seems to be art of a wider issue; there are many talented students with a passion for filmmaking, there is a student film festival in Groningen but there is no significant, if any, student film production. An important reason why the Groningen indie filmmaking scene is not so active might be the absence of a film school or a substantial filmmaking program at one of the institutions of higher education in the city.