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AMFI-film screening 2020: Student works of art about fashion and identity

As a part of the Fashion & Visual Cultural Program, students from the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) created six short films and a photo exhibition. The final product was shown in Het Ketelhuis in the Westerpark and Medium was invited to fully experience the pieces of art. So we tried to submerge ourselves completely in the creations of students in the creative arts. 

Every weekday from January 31st till February 5th, the students held an exhibition to show what they have created in the past months presented by AMFI student Jan Bries. But not only students participated in this project, as Dutch filmmaker Veras Fawaz, among other visual creators, was credited in the outro of one of the films. Even though Medium visited the Wednesday 5th show, quite a big crowd managed to show up filling the room until only a handful of seats were left. If this is indicative of the other nights, it only implies the success of the project and the professional approach of the school: though the event location and cinema weren’t particularly big, it never felt crowded. Props to the atmosphere that was set are deserved.

The event took place in Het Ketelhuis, an Amsterdam cultural center, where low-budget (audio)visual artworks were shown for anyone interested. First showcased were six short 3-minute fashion films, inspired by upcoming fashion designers and all of which with a unique approach to different struggles in society. So how did the filmmakers incorporate fashion into this?

To view these short films, click here.

Looking for a deeper meaning…

The first short film – which we like to title ”Glass Chain” – deals with feeling like you’re stuck or trapped under this ‘invisible weight’. We follow a girl dressed in a beautiful dark dress, but there was a glass chain wrapped around her shoulders, which looked really good. The chain of glass definitely enhances the fashion sense and certainly makes a statement: because it’s see-through glass, people may think there’s nothing wrong, therefore invisible. Although the filming work took a slow turn, that left more for a deep narration (which was barely audible however). The filming was okay: there was a lot of darkness, literally. It couldn’t hurt to have a little lighting in there at some angles. It made the directing feel even more stiff, but at least the location of an abandoned hipster Amsterdam apartment was creative.

The next film titled ‘Nature Morte’, was a quick, quirky, and colorful, but gritty short film. We followed a girl dressed in colorful clothing who gets kidnapped and trapped in a painting by this rich man along with other people dressed in similar clothing. But then they escape their frames and put their owner in a painting as retribution. You could interpret this in many different ways; we had a hard time as well thinking what this really meant. However, it’s important to note these people in frames were people of color and the man was white, so definitely take this into your interpretation. Solid directing and interesting plot(twist) but it felt like too much smoke was used on set, making everything look hazy and smoggy on screen.

The least memorable films

The next short film  – ‘Ordinance’ – about a family member’s remembrance was one of the least memorable in our humble opinion. What we got from it, was that a spiritual or religious family was performing a rather disturbing ritual funeral or burial to commemorate a possible family member with the use of animal meat thrown in there. The meaning is still a bit lost on us and there was little showcase of fashion, which meant that the story-writing could have been better, but the directing and the camerawork sort of made up for it.  

Sadly, there was another least memorable short film: ‘Upper R0om’, revolving around doctors and white rooms. The filming was great, the sets were great and the fashion was there to complement that to an extent, but the storyline was lacking and unclear. We follow a man dressed as a doctor who traverses these cool bright white locations to ultimately find his clone. It certainly leaves the audience to think about what the meaning is for sure, but the fashion items did not help explain because they were the most ”in tune” with the surroundings. 

Battling toxic masculinity

One of the short films that did stand out the most to us, was the fifth film ‘Boy with no Return’. A young man looking for confidence and then he stumbles upon our fashion item: a see-through tunic with long wide sleeves and crop-fitted torso, a truly ‘’flamboyant’’ t-shirt. The plot twist was that when the boy arrived at the skatepark, all of the other skater boys were also wearing the same flamboyant shirts in different colors. Toxic masculinity solved. This short film definitely has the best and most memorable fashion item. Skating in style while wearing gender role-breaking fashion for men is the way to go and it is the perfect theme for this era. The filming and the directing also stood out the most, looking like a vintage European skating commercial.

At last, the last short film was shown – which we like to title ‘Vice’ – followed more of a creative documentary format that was way different from the others. In this short film called ”Spectrum’, we zoom in on three people who defied gender norms and accepted their non-binaryness despite what society thinks. We see them dressed in fashionable feminine clothing mostly and we get to know them through their narration, which was a different take than the other 5 films. But this short film really reminded us of another ‘’edgy’’ medium. Although the message was good, it still felt like a Vice I-D rip-off. Nonetheless, like the previous short film, this is the perfect short movie for this era we’re currently living in. But sadly this won’t have a big reach if only open-minded people interested in fashion watch it. 

Photo-exhibition

After an in-and-out visit in the cinema, with only an introduction talk and 25 minutes of film, we headed out to see the photo-exhibition meant to complement the film screening. A big wall – unfortunately poorly lighted – full of artistic pictures ranging from a still-life to experimental photos of animals and abstract auras, and most of all photos of people in interesting and colourful fashion that really makes you think. Some were recognizable in meaning due to the movies the public had just seen, but others were rather vague, especially without any description or explanation to the photos. Nevertheless, did it make for a very impressive sight and a moment of relaxation after the impact of some of the breathtaking films.

After a relatively short stay of 1,5 hours, a bit less than what was originally stated by the organisation, we finished everything and wrapped up. Though the introduction talk mentioned a little get together and a Q-and-A-session at the end, everyone decided to go home rather quickly. A night full of art coming to an end just as quickly as it started, but with a great exhibition on different issues and uncertainties in life in-between.

 

Cover: Jorrit Hoekstra & Danny Cao

Photo exhibit on the right: Embracing nature in a bright future

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Danny Cao
Danny was raised in the Netherlands after his family immigrated from Vietnam. Coming into contact with injustice, prejudice, and identity early on in his childhood, he heavily incorporated these themes into his writing and storytelling, whether fiction or fact. He also loves reading, media entertainment and languages, and is constantly inspired by creativity and nostalgia. He writes mostly about pop culture, such as film and music, and ties this heavily to social issues - from true romance to future revolutions - anything is possible.

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