The Verzió Student and Debut Competition returns in 2020 with a selection of fresh and exciting works from a debuting generation of filmmakers. Unlike previous years, however, the 2020 Student and Debut Competition will only be screened in a virtual space, without the intimate, shared presence created in the cinema. While this may mean fewer participatory discussions and immediate debates on the films, it does provide young filmmakers with an excellent opportunity to reach a wider audience and raise greater awareness on their topic.
The program for this competition is both relevant and unique; these films give us a glimpse into, or reminder of, the problems the world faced pre-pandemic — of which, there were many. These problems have remained and have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, which — along with the physical threat it poses — has changed interactions, communication, and the way we view films. We have had to re-evaluate a number of things in these circumstances, especially in terms of local and global issues. The general crisis impacts everyone in a specific way, while local conflicts and individual struggles have become general, and thus a new experience of involvement has appeared.
The films in the 2020 Verzió Student and Debut program tackle global issues like water scarcity and its dramatic consequences in India, the economic influence of giant corporations, and gender equality, as shown through the story of Silvia, who is fighting her own war of independence among the Masai. From two distant corners of the world, Brazil and Central Europe, come two films dealing with corruption and political violence: the former (Stunned, I Remain Alert) using experimental methods and the aesthetics of found footage, the latter (Never Happened) with a more traditional, documentarist approach. In The Secretary of Ideology, we meet a 16-year-old activist working to recreate Russian state socialism. And in The Vibrant Village we visit an unusual village in Hungary where people make a living mass- producing sex toys. Other films zoom in on global themes seen at the local level. For Your Sake, a film about Nepalese youth preparing to move abroad, follows the process of letting go, while Saudade, focuses on homesickness in the Brazilian diaspora in Germany. And moving from the public to the private comes the story of Marcin and his relationship with his alcoholic parents in Sonny.
The methods used to tackle these topics vary from film études to experimental solutions, to larger formats worked out in small detail. But behind each of these works is a filmmaker exhibiting a fresh, brave and critical approach to their stories. These stories connect in online space and thus acquire a new dimension recognizing the joint task of their creators and audience.
Head of the Student & Debut Competition Selection Committee