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41st International Film Festival Rotterdam #3 SATURDAY 28 january 2012

French director (Be Kind Rewind, 2008) Michel Gondry (left) supervises the final touches to his Home Movie Factory, a DIY film studio that he’s set up for the IFFR in Rotterdam’s Roodkapje venue. Gondry talks to the Daily Tiger about the impulse behind the project on page 3. 

photo: Lucia Guglielmetti

Seal of approval Despite a decreased budget, the Hubert Bals Fund plays a vital role supporting cinema from the developing world. HBF manager Iwana Chronis talks to Geoffrey Macnab

“It’s a beautiful selection... very strong films, very different kinds of films,” Iwana Chronis, manager of Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund, enthuses of the HBF crop in this year’s programme. The Fund (which supports projects from developing countries) has backed five films in the Tiger Awards Competition and 17 in the festival programme overall. There is a strong Latin-American emphasis in the projects the HBF has backed. Chronis points to such Tiger contenders as young Chilean director Dominga Sotomayor’s Thursday Till Sunday (“a very intimate portrait of a family going through very difficult times seen through the eyes of two young children in the back seat of a car”) and Brazilian film Neighbouring Sounds by Kleber Mendonça Filho. From small seeds…

The amounts that HBF can give to individual films may be relatively small – likely to be between €10,000 and €30,000 – but this can have a huge impact kick-starting those projects. Every major festival around the world invariably has some HBF-backed titles in its programme and many (from Uncle Boonmee to Winter Vacation) go on to win prizes. “That seed money we put in at the beginning of the film can sometimes have a catalysing effect for a film project on the international market,” says Chronis. “It is a seal of approval or can work as a quality hallmark.” The number of HBF-backed films in Rotterdam is slightly down on previous years (down 10 from 27 last year). This, Chronis points out, reflects the fact that the programme has been tightened. (The Fund received

around 750 applications this year and selects about 50.) In spite of the strength of the HBF titles in Rotterdam, the Fund hasn’t had an altogether straightforward year. Its budget is continuing to go down – currently standing at around €950,000, down from €1.1 million. “This year, we will have €600,000 from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That is actually the last part of the three-year contract we had in which every year we would receive €75,000 less.” Chronis and her team accept that they will need alternative sources of funding for next year. In particular, they are looking to tap private funding. “We have a lot of leads. There is nothing concrete yet but it looks… optimistic!” Fundamental

IFFR director Rutger Wolfson has long insisted that the Hubert Bals Fund (set up in 1988 and named after the festival’s founder Huub Bals) is a “fundamental” part of Rotterdam’s identity and will be defended at all costs. “If worst comes to worst and the Hubert Bals Fund is faced with more budget cuts, we will direct money from the Festival to the Fund.” The bulk of the funding from HBF has always come from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Only countries on the DAC List for Development Aid drawn up by the OECD are eligible for support. Informal discussions have been held about funnelling the HBF money more closely into talent development. Critics have pointed out the anomaly that the HBF is investing in film production in some Latin American countries, whose economies seem much more buoyant than those of their Western European counterparts. Could the HBF instead support filmmakers from, say, Greece? “If we had different funders and there was a logic to it, we could consider it, but at the moment it is out of the question. As long as Greece is in the EU, it is

impossible.” Whatever happens in the future, Chronis states: “we will always be focusing on filmmakers from Africa, Asia and Latin America.” The aim is to support more projects from the poorer countries on the DAC list than from the more prosperous ones. The emphasis is also more on “the daring and the experimental” than on the mainstream. Interesting collaboration

In the last six years, Dutch producers have been encouraged to work with the HBF and coproduce the films the Fund backs. This has already yielded some eye-catching successes. For example, Dutch outfit Waterland Film coproduced Locarno Golden Leopard winner Back to Stay, while Circe Films is a co-producer on this year’s highly rated Tiger contender, Thursday Till Sunday. Chronis points out that Dutch co-producers are growing ever more interested in “stepping into these films ... it can be an interesting collaboration.” HBF and IDFA’s Jan Vrijman Fund have again applied jointly for Dutch lottery funding. They are asking for €500,000 per year, to be shared between them. They have applied for this funding several times in the past – and have been rebuffed on each occasion. Nonetheless, they’ve been encouraged to keep on re-applying and there is a real prospect that their luck may change.

script development and training to financing. Five Boost! projects are in the official CineMart selection. Into Africa

All the HBF-backed films in this year’s festival are eligible for the Dioraphte Award, worth €10,000. This goes to the HBF-backed film that scores highest in the audience poll. At present, Chronis acknowledges, there is a shortfall in the number of films from Africa that the Fund is supporting. This reflects the applications that the Fund receives from the region. “That is always a problem,” Chronis says. “We are trying to support workshops and to stimulate young filmmakers in their professional development.” One key event for showcasing projects in Africa is the Durban FilmMart. Another HBF-backed initiative in Africa is the Cinema Mondial tour, on which the HBF collaborates with the Jan Vrijman Fund. “I think it’s important to present the work of the Funds there,” Chronis says. “That’s part of the idea as well – not only to bring these films to these audiences but we also open up our own network in areas of the world where we are not working as much as we would like to.” Iwana Chronis

photo: Nadine Maas

Global boost

A perennial problem is the parlous state of arthouse distribution in the Netherlands – and further afield. HBF attempts to “stimulate” audience demand through initiatives like “10 to Watch.” Meanwhile, Dutch co-producers collaborating on HBF projects hold the Dutch rights, and are pushing hard to get them seen. HBF is one of the partners on Boost!, the new initiative that also involves the Binger Film Lab and CineMart and aims to provide support every step of the way, from


Pure and hard

Lab Report

Ghent Film Festival’s new artistic director talks to Geoffrey Macnab

Here at IFFR, new Artistic Director of Belgium’s Ghent Film Festival, Patrick Duynslaegher, outlines his blueprint for the event. Duynslaegher, 58, who took up the reins at Ghent last September, is planning a festival that will have fewer films but more passionate programming. “We will reduce the films”, he promises. “That’s not a money reason... Ghent is not Chicago; Ghent is not Rotterdam; Ghent is not Toronto. It’s a small city... I want to have a programme so that people (attending) are not overwhelmed by the choice.” Describing his own taste in film as “pur et dur” (“pure and hard’), Duynslaegher has challenged his programming team to justify the films they choose – and to convince audiences they are worth seeing. “I will urge the other people who programme... to be very personal and give their personal reasons why they chose films.” For the sake of festival-goers trying to choose which films to see, he wants his team to do more than just write short synopses in the programme. “As we all know, it is not the synopsis of the film that makes the film,” he says, calling on the programmers “to speak passionately and try to convince the reader why they should see this film.” Calling for committed advocacy, he has challenged the programmers to convince audiences just why it is worth “paying the money and spending two hours of their often hectic and full lives” on seeing the movies they’ve programmed. At a time when (he believes) the print press and much film reviewing is “in a state of crisis,” he notes that film festivals are booming. “Festivals are one of the few opportunities to get a certain type of film shown,” Duynslaegher states. “It is the event culture we live in. The festival (in Ghent) has always created events, but I wanted to go even further in that direction.” Duynslaegher also plans to capitalise on the boom in Belgian cinema (underlined earlier this week when Michael R. Roskam’s Bullhead was nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar). Although he had only just started in his job when the last edition of the

Patrick Duynslaegher

festival took place, he was fully involved in the decision to programme three Belgian films in the main competition. Two of these, Gust van den Berghe’s Bluebird and Nicolas Provost’s The Invader (also screening at IFFR) were recognised by the international jury. “That’s my good fortune, that I step in at a moment when local cinema is blooming,” the new festival boss comments. “Now, this Flemish cinema is so strong and also attracts foreign journalists and foreign media.” Ghent is already celebrated for its World Soundtrack Awards and its championing of the work of leading movie composers. A former film critic and magazine

photo: Ruud Jonkers

editor, Duynslaegher jumped at the chance to join Ghent (the next edition runs from 9 to 20 October 2012). “I really didn’t have to think for long. I immediately thought this was what I would love to do,” Duynslaegher, who was born and studied in Ghent, comments. “It was like coming home.” The new festival boss insists that his new job is not so different from the old one. “Actually, when people ask if it a big change (being at the festival), I think no. The main thing you do as a critic and as a festival artistic director is watch films – which is your passion – and try to share that passion with the widest possible audience.”

Poles Dancing Like the Netherlands, Poland saw its domestic product grab a bigger slice of box-office takings last year, Nick Cunningham reports

Figures released this week by the Polish Film Institute indicate that 2011 was a bumper year for domestic productions at the Polish boxoffice. In total, 11.8 million tickets were sold for Polish films. As total ticket sales amounted to 38.7 million, this means that the market share for home-grown fare exceeded 30%. This is the most impressive domestic performance since the establishment of the Polish Film Institute in 2005. Top three titles were Yuletide comedy Letters to St. Nicholas (Mitja Okorn, audience 2.3 million), romcom Oh, Karol 2 (Piotr Were´sniak, 1.7 million) and the historical Battle of Warsaw 1920 (Jerzy Hoffman, 1.5 million). Battle of Warsaw 1920 is the first Polish 3D film. These titles easily outmuscled the heavyweight Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (1.3 million viewers), the two final Harry Potter instalments (1.2 million viewers each), and The Hangover Part II (1.1 million). “We are very happy with these figures for local films, which represent an increase of around 20% on last year’s figure,” comments Maria Letowska, Senior Festivals and International Projects Manager at the Polish Film Institute ahead of her arrival at the IFFR 2012 to attend CineMart. “They are quite surprising, but it is a very positive trend. Polish audiences like historical films and, like all audiences around the world, are attracted to romcoms and Christmas comedies. The increase, I think, is also due to local star power. Many of the actors in these three films play in many TV productions and series that are popular with Polish audiences.”

Rotterdam Lab, the CineMart programme designed to introduce the cream of emerging production talent to the international industry and its key personnel, kicks off this afternoon in de Doelen. Highlights of the 5-day programme include tomorrow’s pitch coaching session given by EYE Film Institute Netherlands’ Ido Abram (former head of both CineMart and the Binger), as well as a series of top-level industry panels, workshops and presentations, plus key speed-dating sessions with leading audiovisual experts. These include ACE and EAVE presentations, a panel on the art world’s increasing incursions into film production co-hosted by Screen International and CPH:DOX, and co-production/ post-production case studies of recent celebrated film works. The Lab is produced with the participation of myriad national film representation bodies, international festivals and markets and cross-border funding powerhouses. In total, 78 emerging producers, each selected by his or her national fund or film board, are set to benefit from the wide range of industry sessions on offer. “Here, it is easier to network and to get in contact with certain other producers and sales agents,” points out CineMart’s Jacobine van der Vloed. “We have a structured programme, but just as important is the great opportunity these producers are given to network. They have their projects in their own back pockets and during the event there are enough opportunities to practise and pitch. You see somebody you have wanted to meet. How are you going to tell this person in one minute what you want from them? And there are 800 other people who want to talk to this person too. We try to give our producers the tools to deal with that. For our partners, that is very important, and it is why they send their producers here.” Van der Vloed argues that the Lab’s pleasing sense of informality is what sets it apart from other such events at bigger, sometimes more daunting, film festivals. “If a producer goes somewhere like Cannes unprepared it is unlikely that they will get a meeting on the spot, but here they can,” she stresses. “Other attending professionals are open to it because here in Rotterdam they are looking for projects. Also, when we approach CineMart participants to sign up for speed-dating with Rotterdam Lab producers, they are always keen to join in. They want to meet the new generation of emerging producers as well. So it works both ways.” (NC)

Tips for the top

Michel Gondry

photo: Ruud Jonkers

Crowd control Michel Gondry has set up a DIY movie studio in Rotterdam. By Edward Lawrenson

Michel Gondry says he’s not especially busy, but it doesn’t seem that way. The French director is in Rotterdam installing his Home Movie Factory in the city’s Roodkapje venue. Having already taken it to New York, the Factory is a collection of deceptively ramshackle and home-made-looking movie sets – a train interior, a prison cell, a bedroom and so on – in which groups of ten or so participants collaborate on a short film, responding to prompts and guidance drawn up by Gondry. The project (part of the Signals: For Real strand) has been up and running for a day now, but Gondry is still making last minute touches to the layout, and combines talking to the Daily Tiger with designing the cover for a DVD one of the groups made yesterday with coloured felt-tip pens that a Roodkapje staff member found for him.

“Everybody has creativity, or at least enough creativity to entertain themselves,” Gondry says about the impulse behind the home movies. There’s an egalitarian resonance to this notion, and Gondry points out that artistic success often has to do with possessing “charisma, connection and social skills, things that have very little to do with a sense of creativity. So as an audience you get exposed to people who have these abilities, but it doesn’t mean that they are the most creative talents.” Have any of the home movies he has seen so far influenced any of this own work? “I don’t know. I don’t look at them that way: it’s more a social or political thing. There are some similarities with making movies, but not many.” Either way, it sounds fun, and when your correspondent expresses a desire to join one of the groups, Gondry says: “You better get your name down soon. There are not many places left.”

This morning, top international festival directors and programmers will offer the fruits of their knowledge and experience to industry professionals during a panel entitled ‘Make the Most of a Film Festival’. Contributors will include Nashen Moodley, director of the Sydney Film Festival; producer Amra Baksic Camo (head of Cinelink, Sarajevo); Yoshi Yatabe (programme director, Tokyo FF) and Venice programme advisor Paolo Moretti. The session will be moderated by IFFR consultant Hayet Benkara, currently of the Doha Film Festival, formerly head of industry at Toronto. “They will discuss festival strategies, how to select the right festival for your film, the differences between festivals and audience festivals versus market-oriented events,” comments the Film Office’s Nikolas Montaldi. “Being a big fish in a small pond may be more effective for a small indie, rather than getting lost in a major festival programme.” The panel discussion will also address the pitfalls of a scattergun approach to festival submission – you don’t want to scupper sales/ distribution deals by using up your entire audience through festival screenings. The festival as a key networking instrument will also be high on the agenda. (NC) Make the Most of a Film Festival

10.30-12.00, De Doelen Industry Club, 4th floor


Up close and personal Wilhelm and Anka Sasnal’s debut feature exposes the underbelly of life in a small Polish town. By Ben Walters

It Looks Pretty from a Distance lives up to its name. The debut feature by Polish husband-and-wife team Wilhelm and Anka Sasnal, shot on 35mm, demonstrates an artist’s eye for colour, composition and telling detail. Less charming is the story this Tiger competitor tells, of entrenched grudges and resentments that find increasingly degrading and violent expression in a small rural community. “That’s the experience you get passing these villages between our hometown and the city where we live now,” says Wilhelm Sasnal of the film’s tantalizing title. “We used to pass them quite often and we always wondered what’s behind the fences – these farms were very picturesque from a distance, but once we decided to stop and have a closer look some of the houses were really messy, in total disorder. That’s where the initial idea for the film came from – when we saw the chaos, the everyday activity of this life very close to the earth, and we linked it to our knowledge of the past, especially the events of the Second World War in those communities.” Not that Sasnal wanted to single out these particular people. “This is not about the Polish soul or villagers’ souls,” he insists. “This is about human nature. These things could happen anywhere – setting

the story today makes it more universal, though of course we refer strongly to the Polish past; the looting and selling of Jews to the Germans during the war. For years, these things weren’t disclosed – until 1989 we were always the victims. No, not just victims; we were sometimes on the evil side. Sometimes you cannot control your anger. When the crowd is too big, the bad energy wants you to destroy or to kill.” The project developed in an organic, albeit somewhat cautious, manner. “We stopped at households we liked and visited quite often for about two years. At first, they were a bit reluctant but finally we became… well, maybe not friends, but I liked these people and they liked me. There was also the opportunity for them to get money – we paid them to let us run around with our camera and film them.” Some of the villagers appear as extras in the film, though the speaking parts are taken by professional actors. The Sasnals are experienced artists – Wilhelm as a painter and short filmmaker, Anka as a writer – but It Looks Pretty from a Distance is their feature debut. (Well, almost: an early experiment was discarded. “We made it but put it away on a shelf. It doesn’t exist anymore. This is the one we’re happy with.”) The duo had certain advantages: they were able to finance the film with their own funds and backing from the gallery Wilhelm works with, and they could draw on the shared references and collabora-

It Looks Pretty from a Distance

tive shorthand of a two-decade partnership: “we’ve been together for longer than we haven’t been,” Wilhelm notes. The film hasn’t been widely screened yet in Poland, but has proved polarizing among those who have seen it. “Some people liked it, some people didn’t,” Sasnal says. “No one was indifferent. We didn’t care that much. We made this film for ourselves. We think evil should be named for what it is.”

Tiger Awards Competition It Looks Pretty from a Distance – Wilhelm and Anka Sasnal

Sat 28 Jan 15:30 PA7 Sun 29 Jan 12:15 PA6 Mon 30 Jan 21:15 PA6 Tue 31 Jan 16:45 CI2 (Press & Industry) Thu 02 Feb 12:30 LV3 Sat 04 Feb 12:30 PA7

The show must go on Okuda Yosuke nearly called off the shoot for his Japanese Tiger contender Tokyo Playboy Club because of the disaster in Fukushima, he tells Mark Baker

Thursday Till Sunday

Scenes from a marriage A family road trip is the subject of Tiger competitor, Thursday Till Sunday. Its director talks to Edward Lawrenson

The initial idea for Chilean writer-director Dominga Sotomayor’s debut feature came when she was rifling through some old photographs of her childhood holidays. “I was looking through pictures of family trips and I found this shot of us kids on the roof of a car. I liked the polarity of the shot, with the children on the outside and parents in the car. I felt how dangerous and how amazing this was at the same time.” The image provides a signature moment in Sotomayor’s movie. Charting a holiday to a desert in the north of Chile, Thursday Till Sunday depicts the road trip taken by siblings ten-year-old Lucia (Santi Ahumada) and seven-year-old Manuel (Emilano Freifeld) with their parents. Inspired by that childhood photo, Sotomayor shows Lucia at one point sitting on the roof of their battered Mazda observing her mother and father engaged in a furious (though unheard) argument. As the quietly watchful Lucia witnesses more and more of her parents’ fractious behaviour, the film develops into a poignant child’s-eye view of marital break-up. “It’s autobiographical in a way,” says Sotomayor, “My parents did separate, but we didn’t have this exact trip.” The shoot was a challenge, especially for a first-time feature director. For one, Sotomayor was determined to shoot on film. Filmed by talented Argentine director of photography Barbara Alvarez (The Headless Woman), the movie captures the changing landscapes Lucia and her family travel through with a delicately lyrical touch. “It was one of my fights with the production,” she laughs of her decision to shoot on Super 16mm, “It was bit of a crazy decision because it was my first

feature. It was obviously easier to make it in digital, but I wasn’t afraid about not having a lot of material, so it was OK. I really wanted to work with limitations.” Using young, non-professional actors, she entices from her pre-teen cast performances of real naturalism and warmth. “At the beginning, they didn’t have the script,” she says of her approach to directing the kids. “Twenty minutes before shooting we’d have a little run-through with Santi and the adult actors. But Emaliano didn’t really understand what was happening.” At one point Emaliano plays a game with the actors playing his parents, asking them to guess the identity of a well-known person he is thinking of. “Everything was written”, remembers Sotomayor, “but he’s actually playing for a real.” Sotomayor is thankful for the support she received from the Hubert Bals Fund: “It was important for development because I could make a research trip to the north.” She also singles out the help provided by Dutch co-producer Stienette Bosklopper, an early advocate of Sotomayor’s writing. “It’s not a superstrange film, but it’s a radical pitch,” she says of her fragmentary approach to writing. Given the film’s autobiographical roots, what did Sotomayor’s family think of Thursday Till Sunday? “They were really emotional. The characters aren’t exactly them, but there’s a familiarity there. My father, who can be really critical, was crying!”

Okuda, whose award-winning Hot as Hell: the Deadbeat March screened at the IFFR last year, is back in Rotterdam this year competing for a Tiger Award. Tokyo Playboy Club is a funny, wry, sophisticated examination of life on the criminal fringes of the Japanese capital. The director isn’t a native of Tokyo, however – in fact, he comes from Fukushima, the remote Japanese city hit by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster last year. The disaster nearly put a stop to shooting for Tokyo Playboy Club before it had even begun, the young director says, taking in the expansive view of a sun-dappled Rotterdam through the huge windows on the third floor of De Doelen. “My family still live in Fukushima,” he says, “and my father’s house was wrecked by the earthquake. I was just about to start shooting when it happened, and I immediately rushed back home to see if everyone was alright. Fortunately they were, and my father said to me: ‘Go back to Tokyo and make your film!’ – so I did.” We can be grateful Okuda listened to his father. Tokyo Playboy Club is an unusual, contemplative, amusing take on the yakuza genre. “I have been a victim of violence in Japan myself”, the director says. “So I know that the consequences can be really harmful. But violence is often used as entertainment in films, and this is also the case in my film. It is a double-edged sword.” And indeed the plot of Tokyo Playboy Club is driven by outbursts of violence that have both comic and poignant consequences – sometimes even in a

single shot. A feeling of ambiguity pervades the film. Okuda is a great fan of Quentin Tarantino, and refers to his idol’s assertion that film can show emotions that are not clear-cut: they can be in-between and hard to describe in any medium other than film. Making Tokyo Playboy Club was a very different experience from making his indie debut, the Hot as Hell trilogy, the director says. “On Hot as Hell, I was working mostly with people who were doing it out of sheer enthusiasm. Tokyo Playboy Club was the first time I worked with all professionals, and I found this a lot harder. They are all specialists in their particular fields, and have their own ideas on how to do it. But I think I succeeded in getting my ideas across.” Partly for this reason, Okuda concentrated totally on directing for Tokyo Playboy Club (having acted in Hot as Hell, earning praise from IFFR programmer Gertjan Zuilhof as “an excellent comedian”). Among Okuda’s fellow Tiger contenders is a film directly dealing with the Fukushima disaster, Makino Takashi’s Generator (competing in the shorts category), an abstract piece with a haunting soundtrack by Jim O’Rourke. “I wasn’t aware of that,” Okuda says. “It sounds very interesting, but I am not so much into art films to be honest. I make entertainment.” Tiger Awards Competition Tokyo Playboy Club – Okuda Yosuke Sat 28 Jan 18:45 PA5 Sun 29 Jan 13:30 PA4 Mon 30 Jan 18:15 PA6 Tue 31 Jan 12:00 DDJZ (Press & Industry) Thu 02 Feb 17:30 LV3 Sat 04 Feb 18:45 PA5

Tiger Awards Competition Thursday Till Sunday – Dominga Sotomayor Sat 28 Jan 21:30 PA7 Sun 29 Jan 09:15 PA6 Mon 30 Jan 21:45 LV1 Wed 01 Feb 09:45 PA2 (Press & Industry) Thu 02 Feb 15:15 PA6 Sat 04 Feb 09:45 PA5

Okuda Yosuke

photo: Ruud Jonkers


Counting pretty Japanese director Miike Takashi’s new film Ace Attorney has its world premiere at the IFFR. He discusses his prolific career with Geoffrey Macnab

Miike Takashi pauses for a moment as he tots up the numbers in his head. He finally calculates that his tally (including the smaller works) is more than one hundred films. The latest, Ace Attorney, had a world premiere this week in IFFR’s Spectrum, renewing an acquaintanceship with the festival that began when his Grand Guignol masterpiece Audition screened here in 2000. (“Rotterdam was where I first screened Audition outside of Japan, and that was my break with European audiences.”) “It’s not about the quantity,” the director says of his immense filmography. “It’s just a natural development of the way I’ve been making movies. When I compare myself to others, I don’t wonder why I make that many movies – I rather wonder why they don’t make more!” Perhaps, he speculates, other directors have a stronger sense of their own identity. “They have their own ideals and their own style. If they’re confronted with a budget with which they think they can’t make their own film, they’ll decline it. If they’re being told to make a love story, they’ll say that is not their kind of genre and decline it. In sharp contrast, I take it on! Even if the budget is very, very low, I’d rather see it as a challenge… I don’t have that very strong sense of a personal style.” He quickly adds that he believes he always manages to “keep something of my own in there” when he is making a new movie. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be able to do his job. Miike’s films range in budget from Visitor Q, a fullblown feature made in 2001 for less than $100,000, to the biggish-budget Yatterman (2009), an animé-based action adventure. He doesn’t have any hankering to make a film in Hollywood, with a Hollywood budget, however: “That can be mind wrecking.” Ace Attorney is a harum-scarum courtroom satire, adapted from a video game and made in the genrebending style audiences have begun to expect from the maverick auteur. Does Miike have any experience of the Japanese legal system himself? “Not directly,” the director states as he looks back on what was, by all accounts, a very wild youth. “But when I was working as an assistant

director for TV drama, we went to the court to watch. It was very inspiring. It was a lot more real than courts tend to be in dramas. The crimes were much more extreme and much more cruel. You really get a very close-to-life picture of what man is. In that sense, it is very dramatic and also very entertaining.” Miike acknowledges he enjoys the enthusiastic response his movies have elicited from Western admirers such as Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth. However, he also points out that his films have always been aimed primarily at Japanese viewers. “It is very nice when people from outside show interest toward this very Japanese product. Of course, there are also people out there who like it because it is Japanese… we’re making films for Japan, for Japanese audiences. Maybe way back, directors could make their own films, but now we’re more and more in a situation where we are making films demanded by the market.” In recent years, Miike has worked twice with Oscarwinning British producer Jeremy Thomas (of Last Emperor fame): on samurai epic Thirteen Assassins (2010) and on Hara-Kiri: Death of A Samurai (2011). Thomas initiated the collaboration. A “rather old man” in the corner of a bar in Venice waved at Miike, the director remembers, summoned him over and told him that he had bought a book he wanted him to direct. Working with the veteran Brit wasn’t so different from working with Japanese producers. “It’s not that he has his own point of view which is very influenced by the British way of looking at things. He wants to make films from the Japanese point of view… he is very exceptional. He has a huge knowledge of Asia that even I learn from.” As for future projects, Miike is a little coy. One film he has almost complete is “youth violence drama” called Ai To Makato. Various others are on the boil. “But you shouldn’t ask too much about future projects,” he chides. “You never know what is going to happen. Maybe I’ll return to Japan from Rotterdam – and all my projects may be gone!” Ace Attorney – Miike Takashi Sat 28 Jan 19:15 OL

Sun 29 Jan 14:00 SGZ Wed 01 Feb 22:15 PA3 Thu 02 Feb 14:00 DDJZ (Press & Industry)

Miike Takashi

THE ART OF CRITICAL CINEMA Independent cinema is essential for a free society. Development organisation Hivos supports independent filmmakers all over the world. The Tiger Awards Competition puts upcoming talent in the spotlight and gives artists a powerful voice, even in countries where freedom is not self-evident. Hivos takes pride in sponsoring the Tiger Awards. Visit us at


photo: Ruud Jonkers

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