Interview: Yves Piat (Nefta Football Club)

SNP Official Selection
Still from Nefta Football Club

Today we begin revealing some highlights from our 2019 lineup, with the full slate to be announced in the weeks to come. First up, Yves Piat, director of the funny and charming Nefta Football Club, whose synopsis reads: “In the south of Tunisia, two football fan brothers bump into a donkey lost in the middle of the desert on the border with Algeria. Strangely, the animal wears headphones over its ears.” We spoke to Yves recently about the film.

Director Yves Piat (NEFTA FOOTBALL CLUB)

James McNally (JM): Your young actors are remarkable. How did you find them?

Yves Piat (YP): Complicity between the boys was one of the features I was searching for. At first, I cast children from wealthy families. They were used to playing in ads, but their acting didn’t fit what I was expecting for this film. I decided to cast children from a poor neighbourhood of Tunis. I met Eltayef [Dhaoui], who plays the elder brother, on the second day of casting. He was very motivated and was always on time, unlike many children from the streets who often sniffed glue before coming to the casting auditions. I saw hundreds of them and finally chose Eltayef because he was very professional. A great complicity started between us. On the set, Eltayef was incredibly dedicated to the film; he had a sense of rhythm and he understood very quickly what I asked him. Every take was good and he was never tired. This child who is now a teenager was really impressive and incredibly kind!

Regarding little Dali [Mohamed Ali Ayari], the other brother, it was a complete different story. I met him a few days before shooting while I was walking in Tunis with Raja Kader, my translator. I wasn’t really satisfied with the young man initially cast for this role. So, as we finally ended up in a dance classroom where there was this boy, Dali, twice as small as the other boys since he was only 7 years old, but incredibly free from inhibitions. I was amazed by his presence and asked his father if he wanted his son to appear in a film shot outside of school, in south Tunisia and during the holidays. He said yes immediately.

We rehearsed the week before the shooting, because both of these children had never made a film or even been inside a cinema. In particular, I had to be sure that once there, Dali, the younger one, was not going to give up. Dali was incredibly pure as an actor but he quickly became tired on set, although he never gave up. Nevertheless, as a 7 year-old child, he was easily distracted by other children, and wanted to leave to play with them. One day, he managed to disappear from the set. Five minutes later, he was coming back on a bike he probably found in the village near the film location. He brings the freshness and the innocence that I was looking for to this character, but it was really difficult to work with such a young actor.

Poster for NEFTA FOOTBALL CLUB

JM: It’s an unusual story. Was it based on anything that happened in real life?

YP: Many things have inspired the movie. First, a personal experience coming from my childhood. I was 14. At this time, I often snuck out to forbidden places, with flashlights, with my best friend. One day, we found a twisted spoon, a camping stove and thousands of little plastic bags full of white powder. We thought it could be drug material, and we decided to take all this “loot” on our motorcycle. Eventually, since we didn’t know what to do with it, we dumped it in the river without really thinking about what we were doing. Our decision may have cost somebody’s life, or something else important. It’s a story I kept for more than 30 years now. This is how everything started.

Also, I wanted the movie to take place on the border between Morocco and Algeria because I was amazed by the impressive landscapes I saw there. I started imagining a film where the desert would play a great part in the story. Border zones are often dangerous, no man’s lands, going from one state to another.

Regarding the story about the donkey and the Walkman, it’s a true story even if smugglers actually record whistle sounds and not music as presented in the movie. I found it funny to bring in this misunderstanding with the music. And for the football field, the idea came to me after seeing all these kids playing football all along my trip, from north to south Morocco. All these little stories stayed somewhere in my mind and finally merged into one, the one we tell in Nefta Football Club.

JM: What are you working on next?

YP: I am currently working on a feature film taking place in Jerusalem. An Israeli diplomat suffocates to death while eating lamb, a few days before a peace agreement is to be signed. The forensic investigators discover an Israeli bullet in the diplomat’s aorta and the police investigation reveals that the lamb came from the Palestinian territories. The American emissary in charge of the success of this peace agreement has to handle the situation with extreme caution.

Shorts That Are Not Pants Festival 2019 takes place November 15-16 at 401 Richmond. Early Bird passes are available NOW!

El regreso: Thursday August 22, 2019

El regreso

Way back in October 2013, we presented our first (and so far, only) themed lineup. El ataque de los cineastas españoles was so great, we brought it back again in January 2014, and now we’re bringing it back again, five years later! These shorts, made between 2003 and 2012, are so weird and (to me, at least) so funny that I think everyone should see them. We’ll be screening at the newly-restored Grand Gerrard Theatre on Gerrard Street East at Jones Avenue. Tickets will be available at the door for $10 (cash only) and we’ll have some cool giveaways, too.

RSVP


Still from Los Reyes Magos

LOS REYES MAGOS

Dir: Alberto González Vázquez
Spain – 2011

Santa Claus exists. At least he better exist!

Duration: 3:30


Still from Mi Amigo Invisible

MI AMIGO INVISIBLE (MY INVISIBLE FRIEND)

Dir: Pablo Larcuen
Spain – 2010

Tomas is so shy he can’t even ask his parents to pass the salt. Will the appearance of a strange new friend help him overcome his fear of speaking out?

  • Official Selection – Sundance Film Festival
  • Winner, Best Short Film – Los Angeles Film Festival

Duration: 15:00


Still from Elefante

ELEFANTE (ELEPHANT)

Dir: Pablo Larcuen
Spain – 2012

Manuel is stuck in a monotonous job, has only one friend whom he cannot stand, and his family despises him. Everything will change when the doctor diagnoses him with a rare disease – Manuel is going to turn into an elephant.

  • Official Selection – Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival
  • Winner, Best Short Film – Sitges Film Festival

Duration: 9:00


Still from El fin del mundo

EL FIN DEL MUNDO (THE END OF THE WORLD)

Dir: Alberto González Vázquez
Spain – 2010

“My fellow Americans, six months ago I was made aware of a situation so devastating that at first, I refused to believe it…”

Duration: 3:30


Still from El ataque de los robots de Nebulosa-5

EL ATAQUE DE LOS ROBOTS DE NEBULOSA-5 (THE ATTACK OF THE ROBOTS FROM NEBULA-5)

Dir: Chema García Ibarra
Spain – 2008

Almost everyone is going to die very soon.

  • Official Selection – Sundance Film Festival
  • Official Selection – Chicago International Film Festival

Duration: 6:30


Still from Protoparticulas

PROTOPARTÍCULAS

Dir: Chema García Ibarra
Spain – 2009

The experiment was a success: protomatter exists.

  • Official Selection – Ann Arbor International Film Festival

Duration: 7:30


Still from Sinceridad

SINCERIDAD (SINCERITY)

Dir: Alberto González Vázquez
Spain – 2011

The situation is very difficult. You know that, don’t you?

Duration: 3:00


Still from La ruta natural

LA RUTA NATURAL (THE NATURAL ROUTE)

Dir: Alex Pastor
Spain – 2004

Soon a man will find out that his destiny is already written and that he can’t do anything to change it.

  • Winner, Short Filmmaking Award – Sundance Film Festival

Duration: 11:00


Still from Ensayo sobre la ceguera

ENSAYO SOBRE LA CEGUERA (ESSAY ON BLINDNESS)

Dir: Alberto González Vázquez
Spain – 2010

Despite losing his sight, Pablo leads a completely normal life.

Duration: 3:30


Still from 7:35 en la manana

7:35 DE LA MAÑANA (7:35 IN THE MORNING)

Dir: Nacho Vigalondo
Spain – 2003

A woman enters a restaurant one morning – only to be met with silence instead of people talking.

  • Nominated, Best Short Film, Live Action – Academy Awards
  • Nominated, Best Short Film – European Film Awards

Duration: 7:30


Still from Domingo

DOMINGO (SUNDAY)

Dir: Nacho Vigalondo
Spain – 2007

A couple on a picnic are witness to the greatest event in human history and attempt to document it for posterity.

Duration: 3:45


Still from Marisa

MARISA

Dir: Nacho Vigalondo
Spain – 2009

Every woman is Marisa, but Marisa is only one. A love story about the vagaries of time and space.

Duration: 4:00


Still from Sospechoso

SOSPECHOSO (SUSPECT)

Dir: Alberto González Vázquez
Spain – 2011

Two policeman question a strange man they found in the woods, while waiting for their new Captain to show up.

Duration: 1:15

Expanding Our Reach

Shortfilmdepot logo
Festhome logo

We love FilmFreeway. We were one of the first festivals to use this (Canadian!) film submission platform when it launched, and we continue to rely on it for quality film submissions. But we were finding that we weren’t receiving as many non-English language films as we’d like. After conducting a bit of research, we’ve decided to expand our reach by accepting films on two other submission platforms:

  1. Shortfilmdepot was created by the people behind the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, the biggest short film festival in the world. Their truly international selection is an inspiration and so we’re confident that we’ll receive films from lots of new places this year.
  2. Festhome is based in Spain and has a good reach in Latin America as well. Some of our favourite short films come from Spain and we’ve been sorely lacking in representing work from the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, so we’re hoping this will remedy that situation.

Though we’ve been quiet lately, there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes, including researching new venues and partnerships. Stay tuned for more news, and if you haven’t yet signed up for our newsletter, consider taking that step. Just wait for the pop up subscription form.

Short Com Festival Offers Fee Waiver

Short Com International Comedy Film Festival

Recently I was contacted by Chris Aitken, Creative Director of Short Com, an excellent UK-based festival focussed on comedy shorts. He’s graciously offered a fee waiver for any filmmaker who reads our blog, Twitter, or Facebook posts. Here’s what he has to say:

Short Com is a highly regarded short comedy film festival that has taken place in some of the UK’s leading cities over the past several years; Manchester, London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. We at Short Com believe comedy is one of the least appreciated art forms yet one of the most difficult and it is part of our mission to promote emerging talent. The first thing we look in a film is its capacity to make an audience laugh, ahead of whether it’s been filmed in 4k. Our festival relaunch takes place in Edinburgh during the world’s largest arts festivals. We are delighted to team up with Shorts That Are Not Pants who like us, have their heart in the right place when it comes to short film festivals and being a friend to the filmmaking community. To find out more about Short Com and how to submit, please visit our festival page.

We look forward to hearing from you,

Chris Aitken. Short Com Creative Director

If you’re interested in submitting to Short Com, use the special code SHORTCOMSNOTPANTS because yeah, Short Com is definitely not pants!