Clermont-Ferrand 2021: BABA
3 February 2021
Short documentary Baba*) by Sarah Blok and Lisa Konno screens in International Competition at the 43rd edition of Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. The film is produced by Boondocs.
Baba is a follow up to Sarah Blok and Lisa Konno's Nobu (2018), a study both of Konno's Japanese father and of migration. The later film is also about migration and once again has an elderly father as its focus. This time the pair train their lens on the Turkish Ceylan, a left-wing intellectual and musician who left his parents' farm in Turkey 40 years ago for an education and a new life in The Netherlands.
Ceylan has a loving Dutch daughter who looks after her dad financially, but what kickstarted the project(s) was the ongoing integration debate in the Netherlands and changes to the nationalisation test for prospective citizens.
"In the first film, Nobu didn't want to talk about anything negative. That's typically Japanese. He didn't want to share his opinions, and migration had enriched his life very much, although I know it was very hard for him to leave his family on the other side of the world," says Blok.
"For the second film we wanted to find someone who was less afraid to share his feelings about migration," she continues. "What I really liked about Ceylan was the ambiguity of him saying that everything had succeeded in his life, and then seeing how it had caused a lot of trauma for him to move from his small village in Turkey, leaving parents that he had outgrown." She further notes the irony of his subsequent reliance on his daughter.
"He has a completely different perspective on migration from Nobu, but on the other hand they both have the same spark and both use humour to resolve their dilemmas," the co-director adds.
Given that Blok studied theatre and Konno studied fashion design, it is not surprising that Baba, like Nobu before it, presents theatrical, idiosyncratic and highly colourful interpretations of national costume in telling Ceylan's story.
"We sort of rolled into filmmaking together," says Blok. "And to have a bit of acknowledgement from the actual film world is really nice." The film was previously selected for IFFR 2020, complete with a show of the Turkish rugs worn (in somewhat ironic fashion) by the protagonist.
Blok elaborates on her "outlier" approach to filmmaking and her professional partnership with Konno. "We feel that not a having a film education is our strength. We feel a lot of freedom to tell stories the way we do and really to explore what we can do across disciplines to really connect in a more abstract way."
For the 43rd edition of Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, three Dutch shorts have been selected. Short documentary Baba*) (2020) by Sarah Blok and Lisa Konno is selected for the International Competiton. Animated shorts Mind My Mind*) by Floor Adams competes for the European Short Film Audience Award and Ink *) by Joost van den Bosch and Erik Verkerk is part of the Young Audience program.
The Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival & Short Film Market, take place online from 29th of January untill the 6th of February 2021.
Festival Distribution: Kapitein Kort