Shorts Night: Be Some Body
- English subtitles
We’re in the middle of ‘Hot Girl Summer’. 24-year-old rapper Megan Thee Stallion coined the term to make this the summer of confidence, positivity and embracing your own (sexual) identity. Don’t get too hung up on the use of “Hot” or “Girl”. Hot Girl Summer isn’t about what’s between your legs, because anyone can be Hot Girl this summer. And it explicitly does not subscribe to prevailing standards of beauty. This isn’t a fitness regime, but a state of mind meant for everyone. Being a “Hot Girl”, then, is about “being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party,” Megan Thee Stallion explains on Twitter.
With Shorts Night: Be Some Body, Pluk de Nacht is indirectly giving homage to the Hot Girl Summer. This is a collection of shorts films that celebrate the human body, sensuality and sexuality. They do so by unconditionally being themselves: these are shameless shorts films that search for the limits of what many consider the norm. This leads to conflicts, sometimes tension and grief. But at the same time this searching for (and pushing of) limits also results in relief, liberation and pleasure.
The most outspoken celebration of female sexuality comes from Hot Dog (Alma Buddecke, Marleen Valin), which ends on one of the best statements ever made: “My vagina is literally the best thing that ever happened to me. I love her more than Netflix.” Many of the other films in this shorts programme are more about the long journey to being able to worship your own body to such an extent. Particularly Carlota Oms’s Adalamadrina shows the uneasy first steps toward sexual comfort. The titular character is an insecure woman who’s ready for her first time. Her coach seems like a good candidate, but will she ever turn him into a sexual conquest? Halfway between the social awkwardness of Eighth Grade and the painful films of Ulrich Seidl, this reveals a story about someone stepping out of their comfort zone, and not knowing just when to stop.
Similar clumsy tactics can be found in Coldsore, a touching animation of a wallflower who draws the wrong conclusion about a classmate’s popularity. Everyone is struck by her beauty. And she has a cold sore. Time to get one of those, but then you have to manage to kiss somebody. Caitlyn McCarthy’s short is full of inventive solution to a nonexistent problem, because that cold sore obviously won’t be getting our heroine a man. The endearing and creative animation style seamlessly matches this funny, slightly sad salivary adventure.
Much of the same talent behind Coldsore – including a sound designer mysteriously named FATHER – also contributed to the more earnest Ugly. A beautiful poem by British poet Warsan Shire reflects on how your formative years can influence your self-esteem. It’s a text that feels timeless in the way it connects generations of women. A fluid animation style supplies matching imagery. Although this message is not as easily grasped as the teenage mishaps above, Ugly ends with the best possible conclusion: “But doesn’t she wear the world well?” Then how could she ever be called ugly?
Proof that these misfortunes and contemplations aren’t limited to women is found in the next two shorts. The first is a music video diptych scored by Baloji, foregrounding the typical connection between man and woman. What makes the video so powerful is the way in which Baloji, who also directs, both broadens and deepens that connection. This is a short film about Congolese traditions and colonial tensions. Baloji transforms the plantation he into a battlefield between man and woman and between tradition and innovation. Even more impressively, it never comes down to binary oppositions, like he versus she or back-then versus modern, but instead it’s all about the many intermediary forms, dancing around each other and occasionally colliding.
The idea of utterly flexible and fluid identities is also at play in Under Covers, a funny stop-motion animation revealing the bedroom secrets of several humans, critters and even alien beings. In each of the rooms, the covers are taken off the sleeping creatures. The body that is revealed says a lot more about the homeowners than what was seen just before on the pillow’s surface. Michaela Olsen uses this conceit to offer a cheerful picture of the way that (trans)sexuality often first gets free reign within personal quarters. Now it’s high time to bring that out into the light, onto the movie screen and into the summer. Because Hot Girl Summer is for every body! Not least for all of the characters bursting onto the screen during this Shorts Night at Pluk de Nacht.
A colourful Dutch claymation short, Lucy shows a woman assailing her body hair and finding herself in a strange world full of wonders.
Ada is a 24-year-old YouTuber who, while online, claims to be an expert in all things sex and love. But, in real life, not only does she lack confidence and have few relationships, she even struggles to speak to her gym coach, who she happens to be madly in love with.
A beautiful poem by British poet Warsan Shire finds visual representation in a fluid animation style.
sometimes, i think about dying
Fran is thinking about dying, but a man in the office might want to date her.
Hannah, in a love-hate relationship with her vagina, chronicles how her feelings toward her sexuality have changed over time. Like that one moment when she discovered the vibration function of her PlayStation controller.
On the night of a lunar eclipse, we uncover the sweet, salacious, and spooky secrets of a small town. From a pigtailed psychopath to naughty nuns, this stop motion animated film conjures a comforting thought: that weird is relative.
Peau de Chagrin / Bleu de Nuit
Beautiful music video shot in Congo explores the different love languages of men and women.