Indonesian film Maryam wins the Orizzonti Award for Best Short Film at Venice Film Festival

This year’s Venice Film Festival has seen Indonesian film Maryam win the Orizzonti Award for Best Short Film.

Sidi Saleh’s film is a carefully crafted story of Maryam, a woman forced at the last moment to take care of a man suffering from autism. As the Christmas season approaches, she acquiesces to his desire to go to church. With her Muslim faith brought sharply into focus by the Christian ceremony she now attends, Maryam faces both a spiritual and physical struggle with the situation she finds herself in.

A paean to the strength of women, Saleh’s film plays with the boundaries of documentary and fiction as it explores the small moments of life that prove earth-shattering for those who experience them. The opening few scenes revel in obscuring our main character (indeed, the opening shot with a blurred character in the foreground is not only remarkably clever but rather unsettling) and it’s only as the film continues that she – and her fragile strength – begins to come to the fore. The middle section, seemingly filmed almost guerrilla style at a real church service, adds a more realist sheen to proceedings. But these small changes in tone don’t disjoint the film and add to a rich tapestry of sensation that mirrors the pressure that Maryam finds herself facing.

With strong direction by Saleh and a remarkable performance by Meyke Vierna as the titular character, its Venice win should secure the film a prominent place on the festival circuit over the months to come.

Venice also saw the European Film Award nomination go to Israeli film Daily Bread, Idan Hubel’s story of a young boy who runs away from home after stealing a piece of chocolate.

The Jury was made up of  Ann Hui (President), Moran Atias, Pernilla August, David Chase, Mahamat-Saleh Haroun, Roberto Minervini and Alin Tasçiyan.

08 September 2014, by Laurence Boyce