The IWM Short Film Festival showcases films responding to past and contemporary conflict across 5 days of screenings, featuring animations, dramas and documentaries

Discover more about some of the films shortlisted for the 2018 festival in our interviews with the filmmakers behind them.  

In Croste di Polenta, a film by Emanuele Bonomi, tells the story of Matteo. In 1915, he is called to enlist in the Austro-Hungarian army but not wanting to fight, he takes shelter in the alpine forest near his home with his best friend, Geremia. Their solace is short-lived as the conflict draws nearer and the young men must come to terms with their situation. A hauntingly beautiful tale of lost innocence, evolving traditions and life-changing choices.

Here Emanuele talks about how he made the film on a tight budget and the help he received from home town to make his vision a reality.

Introduce us to Croste di Polenta in your own words.

Croste di Polenta is a film about a small town during a great conflict. It is a film about the innocence of youth being ripped away by the relentless tides of war and the mechanical onslaught of modernity that threatens to wipe out the traditions of an ancient world.

Tell us about the inspiration for producing your short film..

Coming from the borderland between Austria and Italy, which was the theatre of the ‘White War’, I've always been fascinated and terrified by the idea of young people being forced to fight in one of the most perilous environments: the Alpine glaciers around my home. I wanted to explore the lives of Italian speaking Austrians that found themselves battling an enemy previously considered a neighbour. At the same time, I wanted to show a town in which women were and are the driving energy and custodians of ancient tradition: a dedication to all the strong women of the past that all over the world carried humanity through when it was intent on destroying itself.

Why it was important that you submitted your film to the IWM Short Film Festival?

It was really important to me that this film could be screened at the IWM Film Fest in a prestigious location like the Imperial War Museum. A positive response from the Festival would mean an “historical” approval of the film by a great institution, besides the other perk of being part of ashowcase of inspiring and challenging films from all over the world, that explore different aspects of war and humanity.

Two man stand looking at the landscape in a still from Emanuele Bonomi's film Croste di Polenta
Courtesy Emanuele Bonomi

How did you create such a professional looking film on a student budget?

Filming in my home town allowed me to call to action all the associations, friendships and family that watched me grow as a filmmaker. It was incredible team work were everyone gave their skills and their energy in order to make this film happen. I believe that sometimes, having a limited budget can also become the strength of the film. For example, we couldn’t afford a dolly or a crane, especially filming in forests or on the top of a mountain, and that limitation was the base on which me and the Director of Photography built the style of the film.

Having the luck of coming from a beautiful corner of the world, the Dolomites, was also a plus that did not cost us any money, but involves the challenge of not overusing them. All this was achieved with a meticulous planning and research, to make the best use of the budget we had.

Are there any tips you would give to new film makers looking to make festival standard films?

The Festival circuit is a mysterious and incomprehensible world to me: sometimes I see great short films that can deeply move me, and/or entertain me, and other times I have an opposite reaction. Everyone has its own taste, so I don’t feel I am in the position to give an advice on how to make a film to festivals standard, but I do feel to give a few small tips on how to make a film that is worth being made: to enter in the world you created on page, and to have a laugh or even a cry with your characters; to work as a team with the great people that are in your crew; to remember that there will be an audience at the end of your journey, and that you are also working towards them. And at last, to believe in your idea and to fight for it, even when it might seem almost impossible to achieve, like doing a student period film with horses, weapons and chickens.

Tell us about the different creatives who were involved in your film and how you all worked together to produce the film?

The core of the production was a trio made by me, Tom the DoP and Lara the Designer. I love planning, I think it’s crucial to spend the time to check every detail beforehand so that on set you can have the freedom to invent, but always with a backup plan. Tom worked hard along with me to find the right style for the film, while Lara, who is Lebanese, went into a deep journey to understand the culture from where I was from, I even got scared when she started speaking German a few times.

With Tom and Lara, we walked through every location, weeks before the shoot, we tried every shot with storyboards, stills and maps, discussing and even arguing, until we were all satisfied of what we were doing. This allowed me to not worry on set, knowing that the great people behind me knew what they were doing and what I wanted, but even more, what the film needed.

The great crew of students and young professionals, the actors and non‐actors, my family, and many town people helping us; they are the only reason that allowed this film to become real.

Visit our film festival page for screening times and the full festival programme.

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IWM Short Film Festival 2018 Screenings

IWM London
25 to 29 October 2018

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