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Toast of the town: IFFR Managing Director Patrick van Mil (left) and Director Rutger Wolfson (right) raise a glass with the winners of the Tiger Awards for Short Film competition on Monday evening: Mati Diop, director of Atlantiques, Ying Liang, director of Condolences ( Wei Wen) and Lewis Klahr, director of Wednesday Morning Two A.M.

photo: Ramon Mangold

Back to Africa IFFR’s focus on Africa this year was prompted by that continent’s striking absence from the international film festival scene, Geoffrey Macnab reports

“It began with nothing… it began with an absence,” programmer Gertjan Zuilhof comments of Rotterdam’s ambitious Where is Africa programme, one of the defining events of this year’s Festival. “Over the years, you realise this whole continent – this African cinema – is hardly present.” In the programmes of international film festivals, African cinema is rarely represented by more than one or two token films. “Not that the festivals are not interested, somehow they are. They are even willing to show mediocre films to have an African presence,” Zuilhof reflects. Travelling companions

The Rotterdam programmer set off for Africa last summer. It was his first trip to the continent and he freely admits he is far from an expert in African cin-

ema. His itinerary took him first to Cameroon. His original idea had been to travel alone. Eventually, he decided to bring some non-African filmmakers with him. On his travels, he avoided Francophone, West African countries, which already often have French funding for their movies. Filipino auteur Khavn De La Cruz joined him in Cameroon. Malaysian director Tan Chui Mui was his companion in Durban, South Africa. Other directors involved included Indonesian auteur Edwin in Kenya, American filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson, who travelled to Congo Brazzaville, Indian-American filmmaker Pia Sawhney who filmed in Rwanda and Thai artist/filmmaker Jakrawal Nilthamrong in Zambia. There were a dozen directors in all, from every part of the world and every ethnic background. The films they made are all showing in the Forget Africa strand under the Where is Africa banner this year. Hip hop

During his travels, Zuilhof endeavoured to meet as many local filmmakers as he could. “I have this

habit – not only in Africa but everywhere else – that one of the first things I do is organise a party for the filmmakers. I’ll say let’s come together in the French Cultural Institute at 5pm – I’ll buy you drinks and we can meet each other.” One phenomenon Zuilhof noticed was the surprisingly strong influence of hip hop culture on young filmmakers “It was not just the music, but also the videos and the clothes. A number of filmmakers I met started by making music videos for musician friends and developed themselves into filmmakers.” Where Is Africa

When white Western Europeans travel to Africa on a big cultural mission, it is inevitable that they will be accused of being patronising. “This ‘patronising’ idea is a concern mostly of other white people,” Zuilhof suggests. “When I was travelling in Africa and went from Uganda to Malawi, the local filmmakers were very pleased that I had made the effort to come to them. I don’t think in countries like Malawi and Uganda, they ever had an international

programmer present in the country before.” Nigerian director Kunle Afolayan (whose film Araromire receives its international premiere in Rotterdam) agrees. “The festival is trying to push cinema from Africa and this is good for the continent. Africa has not been well placed in the world cinema circle.” Rotterdam’s Where Is Africa strand includes a programme curated by Alice Smits and Lee Ellickson, directors of the Amakula festival in Uganda. This provides a general and historical overview of African cinema. The Goteborg Festival is one of the supporters of Where Is Africa. “They committed themselves to the programme at an early stage and actually gave money to us. I think this is quite special – one festival gives money to another festival to support a project!” Zuilhof states. (This was one reason why the programmer was in Sweden last week, presenting some of the films that are now screening in Rotterdam to Goteborg audiences.) Continues on page 3

Ripple effect

Continued from page 1 Logistical hurdles

Many of the African filmmakers in Rotterdam this week are travelling internationally for the very first time. Some daunting logistical hurdles had to be overcome. Certain filmmakers didn’t even have passports. Others struggled to get visas. “All the paperwork is connected to corruption. If you’re a young filmmaker without money, you don’t have money enough to bribe the people to give you papers.” Out of Africa

To get a taste of the season, Zuilhof suggests that festival-goers should head over to the Schouwburg. There, the films from Zuilhof’s programme are screening in a gigantic loop. So what now? After the wealth of African cinema on display this year, how will Rotterdam ensure that the best African filmmakers continue to be represented at the festival? Zuilhof has one idea. “It would be nice to turn the situation around,” he reflects. “Now, I have brought international filmmakers to Africa. There is a logic that you could turn it around and ask the African filmmakers to do something, maybe out of Africa…”

Tiger director Tsubota Yoshifumi is eager to see how Rotterdam audiences will respond to Miyoko, his film about cult manga artist Abe Shinichi. By Ben Walters

The full Japanese title of Tsubota Yoshifumi’s Tiger contender, Miyoko Asagaya Kibun, is the same as that of the manga comic with which the film’s real-life subject, Abe Shinichi, made his name in 1971. Beginning with a sequence in which the panels of the low-key story about everyday love and ennui come to life, Tsubota’s film is a portrait of the period during which Abe achieved success before struggles with obsessive behaviour and mental illness – sometimes depicted through fantasy effects – hampered his creativity. Although Tsubota is too young to recall the time himself, he could still draw on personal experience. “I was born in 1975, so it was hard to recreate the atmosphere of the time when Abe was most active, as I didn’t breathe the air of that time,” he says. “But my own parents were manga writers from the same generation, so I grew up seeing the lifestyle and knowing the work.” At the same time, says Tsubota – who has made four shorts and written novels as well as working in advertising and production design – he could draw on


the universality of the artistic experience. “My previous work includes personal, experimental films that mix reality and fiction, so I could relate to how Abe used his personal life in his work.” Abe’s work began appearing in the magazine Garo in the early 1970s. “It wasn’t commercial manga, it was more expressive,” Tsubota explains. “It was peculiar for being so personal, almost in the same realm as ‘I novels’ [an often-dark Japanese genre of literary selfexamination]. So it’s very close to art.” Although Miyoko Asagaya Kibun is still feted among devotees, the comic remains relatively unfamiliar to the Japanese mainstream. “This particular manga

is famous within a subculture. It’s not Pokemon; plenty of people don’t know it.” Indeed, one of Tsubota’s motivations in making the film was to increase awareness of Abe’s work, both domestically and internationally. “I’m looking forward to seeing what the response of a foreign audience is,” he says of the film’s presence at Rotterdam. “Reactions might be different to those in Japan. It’s like I’ve thrown a stone in a pond and now the ripples are reaching Europe.” VPRO Tiger Awards Competition Miyoko – Tsubota Yoshifumi Fri 5 19:00 PA4, Sat 6 10:15 PA1

Big love Russian directors Nikolay and Yelena Renard portray a complex mother-son bond in their Tiger competitor Mama. By Edward Lawrenson

A few years ago, Yelena Renard’s grandmother told her about a woman she knew who lived with her grown-up son. The bond between the two was remarkably close, even supernaturally so: a dream that the mother had prompted her to prevent her son from undertaking a trip that would almost certainly have left him dead. A version of this event is recreated in their film, which tells of the extraordinarily intimate bond between an adult, extremely overweight forty-something man and his aging mother in a cramped, sparsely furnished Moscow apartment. It is an evocative, hypnotically staged slice of complicated family life, observed with watchful patience and formal rigour in static, long takes. There are a few exterior shots – in one scene, for instance, we see the son fascinated by skinny mannequin models in a shop window. But the focus is on the interaction between the pair in their apartment. The tension and tenderness underlying the mother and son’s attitudes to one another emerges slowly and subtly in the Renards’ quiet observation of such rituals as cooking


a meal, preparing for bed, or – in one of the film’s most poignant scenes – when the mother silently bathes her son, who sits on a special metal stool in the bath. It’s a scene in which the contrast between the Renards’ two actors is most striking: Ludmila Alyohina is slight and constantly busy with domes-

tic duties; Sergey Nazarov is obese and largely inactive. Nazarov’s weight has, inevitably, drawn comment from critics who have already written about the film in Russia: “They call it the film about the fat man,” Nikolay Renards wearily observes. But they cast such a large performer precisely to underline

his “helplessness, and dependency on his mother.” Besides, Nazarov was an enthusiastic collaborator: “We found him on the internet,” the Yelena Renards says. “He really wants to act.” And he showed a commendable lack of vanity for his nude bathing scene: “In fact, he suggested he perform another scene half clothed too! We had to persuade him not to.” In directing their leads, the Renards eschewed rehearsal. Alyohina, an established theatre actress, tended to be “used to large gestures, and so filming things as they happened kept it more natural.” This commitment to authenticity informed other stylistic choices: there’s no music and minimal artificial light. A sad postscript: Alyohina died before being able to see the completed film, although she did tell the Renards that she felt it was among her finest screen performances. It inevitably adds a bittersweet note to the Renards’ arrival at IFFR, but the couple are still looking forward to their world premiere. “We looked at which festivals to apply to, and Rotterdam was the one that we wanted to go to. So it’s the only one we applied to – maybe it’s a sign we did things right.” VPRO Tiger Awards Competition Mama – Nikolay and Yelena Renard Wed 03 16:15 PA2, Thu 04 13:30 PA2, Sat 06 16:15 PA2

Like mother, like daughter As well as a mother-daughter relationship, Charlotte Lay Kuen Lim’s Tiger competitor My Daughter shows another side of her home town, she tells Ben Walters

Malaysian Tiger contender My Daughter tells the story of a mother-and-daughter relationship that goes against expectation: the mother, a hairdresser, is reckless and troubled, while her daughter is forced into responsibility, at the same time as dealing with her own problems. Director Charlotte Lay Kuen Lim expresses much of the story through strikingly handsome DV compositions that make a rich mise-en-scene of often dilapidated surroundings. The debut feature began to take shape a few years ago, reports Lim. “I began writing the script in

2007, but it’s very different from the first draft. I didn’t specify a mother-daughter situation at first, but as I was imagining a story, my mother appeared in my mind. Not that the character reflects my own mother!” The mother is played by Chua Thien See, whom Malaysian audiences have seen in younger, more obviously sympathetic roles. “She’s always portrayed as being in her mid-twenties or early thirties, even though she’s somewhat older,” says Lay. “I had my doubts about casting her at first because she looks so young, but we had a few interviews and I was persuaded. I decided the character had probably been a young mother.” Lay also went against the tide in her depiction of Malacca Town, where the story is set, and the filmmaker was born and raised. Although its city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, she eschewed

historic sites for everyday shops, streets and homes – a decision she sees as her own act of heritage preservation. “I wanted to preserve the look of the buildings, the saloons, the places people live and work in every day. There’s a lot of development work in Malacca, and many of these sites are being

My Daughter

lost – but there’s history in people’s lives.” My Daughter received backing from the Hubert Bals Fund and Lim is keen to hail IFFR as a place of cooperation. “This is a festival where you can meet people who are really willing to help you,” she says. “You can feel the energy and there’s a lot of constructive things going on. Meetings and smalltalk are really helpful, especially for new directors like me.” Lim is already at work on a new script that she hopes to submit to next year’s CineMart, about an ordinary man who stumbles upon a smuggling plot when he takes a dead iguana home for his dinner. VPRO Tiger Awards Competition My Daughter – Charlotte Lay Kuen Lim Wed 03 16:30 PA4, Thu 04 19:15 PA5, Fri 05 15:45 PA1, Sat 06 13:00 PA4


Productive visit New York-based production and sales outfit Visit Films arrived in Rotterdam this week with three IFFR titles already under its belt. Geoffrey Macnab reports

The three are Oliver Hermanus’ Shirley Adams, Sophie Deraspe’s Vital Signs and Harmony Korine’s Trash Humpers. Visit is also eyeing up other projects in the programme and CineMart. Speaking in Rotterdam this week, Visit partner Ryan Kampe was striking a bullish note about the independent marketplace. These are tough times for arthouse distributors. Nonetheless, Kampe – who already reports buyer interest in Trash Humpers – argues that adventurous arthouse fare still has its place in cinemas. The New York-based outfit, which handles between ten and twelve films a year, was founded three years ago by Kampe and Sylvain Tron. “We’re a small company with a low overhead. That allows us to take risks that other companies might not take.” Groundbreaking

The Visit Films co-founder argues that Rotterdam remains an important destination for buyers and sales agents, describing it as a bridge between Sundance and Berlin. Last year during Rotterdam, Visit closed a deal for the US with Strand Releasing for Noah Buschel’s The Missing Person. “At Sundance and Berlin, it is so hectic

tion to these films: that they will find buyers and audiences. Will they sell the 35 territories? Probably not, but the idea is that we’re bringing value and exposing these films to a wider marketplace.” Visit recently closed a North American deal with the Global Film Initiative for Shirley Adams, which will be released later in the spring. a Ubiquitous

Securing a US deal early is still often the key to selling films internationally. With fewer US buyers now buying independent arthouse fare, Kampe said that it was becoming “tougher” to sell these films abroad. “If you have a US deal, it definitely doesn’t hurt you,” Kampe said. “The marketing on the internet is so ubiquitous, anyone anywhere will access that. Even a distributor in Sweden understands that its audiences are looking at the US blogs.” Beautiful and amazing Ryan Kampe

photo: Corinne de Korver

and people have such a small amount of time. Rotterdam is a really good place to sit down with people.” Kampe adds that Rotterdam is “a vital place for cinema and a vital place for our films to be seen by a public audience… for people who appreciate cinema, it’s still a place that introduces a lot of new filmmakers and shows a lot of work that’s pretty groundbreaking. That’s the kind of

Lie detector As part of her research into her 2010 CineMart project Layla Fourie, writerdirector Pia Marais subjected a young actor to a polygraph test, she tells Edward Lawrenson

Observing the process was useful, if a little unnerving, for Marais: the South Africa-set thriller takes its name from its heroine, a young single mother who works as a polygraphist, testing prospective employees at a large casino. Polygraph testing, it turns out, is a booming industry in South Africa. Researching a documentary in South Africa, where the long-time Berlin resident Marais was brought up, the filmmaker was struck by just how much these lie detectors are part and parcel of South African society. “They are used by employers on job candidates. Companies use them to deter fraud. Even couples polygraph one another before committing to relationships. We

Pia Marais

photo: Corinne de Korver

cinema we want to be associated with and so it makes sense to be here.” Emotional connection

Visit works on the principle that if “we find the right films that we love,” the company can communicate its enthusiasm to the buyers. “That’s the underlying idea – the emotional connec-

Visit Films generally picks up films at an advanced stage. On occasion, though, the company will acquire films at script stage. For example, Visit recently signed up Toomelah, the new project from Aussie director Ivan Sen. “We can’t take every challenging film that comes along. There is a lot of stuff that is going to be beautiful and amazing, but we have to be picky. We don’t want to get on board a film that we don’t end up selling,” Kampe said.

Knights of Labour

did a fake employment test on this poor actor,” Marais recalls “and I observed what happened.” Was she tempted to take one herself? “Not really,” she replies, “I wouldn’t pass one!” The device is, Marais suggests, emblematic of the culture of distrust and the vast security systems that have developed in response to the instability of post-Apartheid South Africa. But if Layla Fourie engages with the country’s convulsive recent history, it will do so, Marais adds, in a way that “is suggestive, not explicit.” Portraying the tensions between Layla and her young son Kane following a traumatic accident, the film is foremost a thriller and drama whose “story reflects a certain atmosphere in modernday South Africa.” For such a character-based study, the casting of the eponymous lead is therefore crucial. Although Marais has yet to commit to an actress, she takes heart from a recent trip to South Africa. “We were researching the film by working with local performers from Cape Town, and I saw two young actresses who were very good.” She continues: “There’s a lot a talent about, but actors are used to doing so much bad TV it distorts their naturalness.” For casting the eight-year-old Kane, Marais can draw on her experience working with a young actress to play the 13-year-old lead in her feature debut Die Unerzogenen (The Unpolished). “There was only one child who could have played that part,” she recalls, “but we had to audition hundreds to find her.” Die Unerzogenen went on to win a 2007 Tiger Award, and Marais returned to the festival to raise financing at CineMart 2008 for her second feature, Im Alter von Ellen, a drama with Jeanne Balibar currently in post production. “It was really useful,” she says of the experience. “A lot of the meetings are quite general, but we got good in-depth feedback from a couple of producers, and it was really interesting to find out what sections of the industry thought of the project while we were still developing it.” Produced by German outfit Pandora, Layla Fourais currently has a South African partner DV8 and Dutch production company IDTV, and Marais hopes that she will secure international sales interest and another European co-producer at CineMart.

American filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson investigates old and new economies of labour in Erie, he tells Richard James Havis

Kevin Jerome Everson’s Erie is all about work. Shot in Buffalo, in the environs of the picturesque lake, the film focuses on the changing nature of labour. In unbroken 11-minute takes, Everson gently depicts the shift from factory labour to service industries in this poor and depressed region of the USA. A scene of men putting up a billboard encouraging workers to move to the region sets the scene. “I had that billboard specially designed for the film,” says Everson. “It’s based on old billboards from the 1960s that would advertise work in the north to the Blacks in the south. It refers to how the workers got there in the first place.” This section is shorter than a full roll of film: “The guys put the billboard up really fast – they slapped it up there in three minutes. I thought it would take longer than that. So I cut it to save the viewer having to stare at the billboard for another 8 minutes.” Subliminal

A documentary section featuring a conversation with Everson’s family makes concrete the theme of work. They talk about how the car factory which employed them gradually declined. “I wanted to film in an auto factory but I couldn’t get in,“ Everson says. “So I interviewed my cousins the day after

Kevin Jerome Everson

they retired from the auto industry. They represent the old economy of labour. The second-to-last scene shows a guy from the pharmaceutical industry. That represents the new economy of personnel and medical industries. These are where the new jobs are being created. All these scenes are linked in a subliminal way.” Single take

Everson constructed the film by editing full reels together: “I’ve always wanted to do a single take film. But I could never figure out what I wanted it to be about. You have 11 minutes, so time becomes your formal frame. I decided it would be a good idea to string seven or eight of these together and give it a slight narrative. I was going to Buffalo and I’m from Cleveland – both of which sit by the lake – so I already had an idea about the old economy and the new economy of this region.” A fencing scene in which young men fight with sabres illustrates the intensity of work, says Everson: “The fencing shows men concentrating on the task in hand. You see their labour and their effort. It’s intense.” Apart from the first scene, Everson resisted the temptation to edit his work down from full rolls of film. “The whole idea was to avoid cuts, so I didn’t feel tempted,” he says.“ I don’t tend to cut much anyway. The shooting is the primary thing.” Erie – Kevin Jerome Everson Wed 03 13:30 PA2, Thu 04 20:00 CI7, Sat 06 14:45 VE4

photo: Ramon Mangold


Directors’ cut

New road movie Director Angelos Frantzis explains how he shot his second film – In the Woods (Mesa sto dasos), the intimate story of three young people’s emotional and sexual experimentation against a natural backdrop – using the video function of a 7.2 megapixel consumer camera

Munk Studio, the initiative set up in Poland in 2008 to support debut features, has announced details of its initial slate of films. Geoffrey Macnab reports

Speaking in Rotterdam, programming director of Munk Studio Dariusz Gajewski revealed that the Studio is already backing Fear of Heights. This is the debut feature from Bartek Konopka (who amid great celebration from the Polish delegation in Rotterdam was Oscar-nominated yesterday for Best Short Documentary for Rabbit à la Berlin). The film, budgeted at €750,000, is an Oedipal drama about a strained relationship between a father and a son. The cast is headlined by Marcin Dorocinski as the son and Krzysztof Stroinski as the father. Munk is also backing Mini, the debut feature by Jarek Sztandera (who won awards for his short Luxury). Due to shoot in the late summer, it’s a closely focused drama about an estranged couple who stay together for the sake of a child. The third new feature is Low Prices Every Day, the debut feature of composer, jazz singer and filmmaker Maria Sadowska. This is based on the true story of a Polish supermarket worker who fought back against her oppressive bosses, winning a court case against them.

Dariusz Gajewski

photo: Corinne de Korver

The idea is that Munk Studio (named after legendary Polish auteur Andrzej Munk) will support four feature debuts every year. The Studio is backed by Polish Film Institute, the Ministry of Culture and public television, and has an annual budget of €2.5 million a year. Alongside its Polish talent, the Studio is also looking to part-

ner on international co-productions of films by first-time directors. The Studio acts as the production company behind the films it supports, as well as providing studio facilities. The directors may be tyros, but one principle remains sacred – they are always given final cut. “That is the Polish tradition,” commented Gajewski.

Denis Denis Denis Vaslin of Rotterdam-based Volya Films has a busy festival schedule, and an even busier year ahead, he tells Nick Cunningham

With director Ineke Smits’ eagerly anticipated Aviatrix of Kazbek, which Vaslin co-produced closing the festival this year, Vaslin’s co-production The Wind Journeys (Los Viajes del Viento) has been playing to full houses in Bright Future. The Dutch Treats programme features Stella van Voorst van Beest’s Prisoners of the Ground, dubbed by Volya “a Finnish tango in the shape of a movie,” while Independencia (Raya Martín) performs in Signals: After Victory. The company has united a slew of funding agencies, including France Sud, Gothenburg Film Fund, HBF and HBF Plus, to contribute towards Saodat Ismailova’s 40 Days of Silence, which the company is looking to shoot in the winter of

2010/11. Satan’s Invisible Empire, a documentary about the quietest place in the Netherlands, receives Teledoc 2 development funding via the Netherlands Film Fund, CoBO and broadcaster BOS. Vaslin is hopeful that the same institutions will stump up the €300,000 necessary to enable the film to be made. Later this month, the company will start shooting Allard Detiger’s The New Saint, a co-pro with Belgian Serendipity Films. The film concerns the de facto saintly status conferred upon a young Russian soldier decapitated by Chechen fighters after refusing to convert to Islam.“I hope he will succeed,” Vaslin commented. “We’ve succeeded so far, in that the money is in place, but now the work starts for real.” Vaslin continues to seek finance for his 2009 CineMart project Kurai Kurai. With €600,000 of the €1.4 million in place for the co-production with Belgium’s Cassettes for Timescapes, Vaslin is looking to secure a German or Swiss co-producer. NC

In the Woods – Angelos Frantzis Sat 06 13:30 PA6

Denis Vaslin

photo: Felix Kalkman

Visual-audio It seems you can’t only steal things from the Break Even shop, you can watch things there too. Store proprietor Edwin Carels has curated a series of nightly “free events and unclassifiable happenings” entitled Foreclosures, which fill a neat space

Diebl3 and Billy Roisz

in the right-hand corner of his shop. Events range from a film about pickpocketing techniques to demonstrations of wearable synthesisers. This evening features ‘tiny tools – chamber A/V’, an electronic music combo who create sound and im-

photo: Ramon Mangold

It happened by accident. A friend of mine went to Morocco and when I saw the images he took with his €200 camera, I said “I’ll buy your camera now!” When I was locationscouting for this film, I used the camera to take test shots and do various experiments. When I projected them, it was so close to what I wanted to do with the movie that I decided to use it for the shoot. Everyone said I was crazy, but for me it was like inventing a new form of cinematography. To shoot with a more professional video camera wouldn’t have been much more expensive. It wasn’t about the budget [€200,000 for the whole film] – even if I’d had triple the budget, I’d have done it the same way. It was about the formal freedom – the way you can handle the camera, it’s as if you could fly, there’s a feeling of flow. The texture of the image has a specific feeling, a little like Super 8, with saturated, warm colours that fit with the themes of the movie. I wanted a transcendental feeling and with that little camera I could be very intimate with the actors – it was very important to catch all the moments and gazes, the little things that reveal the mechanism of desire. Of course, there was a practical benefit as well. It was a long shoot, camping in different places all over Greece, but our equipment consisted of three of those cameras, a laptop and additional sound recording equipment – you could fit it all in a bag – and our whole cast and crew could fit in two cars. We had more equipment to cook than to film. These days, anyone can make a movie for nothing but that doesn’t mean anything – paper and pencils have been around for a thousand years but that doesn’t mean we are all poets. It all begins with the project. But each time you make a movie you need to invent a new method. This is a new road to follow.

age by converting audio signals to video signals, and vice versa. “We use a video mixer, little computers and little synthesisers,” says Billy Roisz, who operates the video components. “We work by sending audio and video signals back and forth. We’ll send an analogue signal to a TV or a video signal to some audio equipment. The conversion process results in different kinds of sounds.” Video is created in a similar way, says Roisz: “The process creates lines and colours. It results in very abstract stuff. If I output the audio signal to video, it plays with the synchronization of the video and makes colours and lines. I use the processes inherent in the machines. I don’t use a camera or footage, although there is some manipulation – I have a video mixer which I use to add colour, graphical forms and alter the speed.” Diebl3, who generates the sounds, uses records as a primary source. “You can do similar things digitally with computers, but I like to work with analogue equipment, as it’s more tactile,“ he says. Adds Roisz: “There are a lot of knobs and buttons on analog equipment, and I like that.” RJH

News in Brief NETPAC screening This morning’s seminar with NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinemas) directors whose films were selected for IFFR 2010 will include an extra element: an impromptu screening of many of the directors’ early ground-breaking short films. The seminar is open to public and business alike. “This is a special event to commemorate our twentieth year,” commented NETPAC board member Wong Tuck Cheong yesterday. “And it is an excellent chance for Rotterdam audiences to get to know the previous work of our nominated Asian directors.” 11am, Van Cappellen Zaal, De Doelen

10 to 11 picked up Pelin Esmer’s HBF-supported 10 to 11, screening in Bright Future, has been picked up for international sales by Paris-based Colifilms Diffusion, represented in Rotterdam by Claude Nouchi. The film details an old man’s mania for collecting and archiving items picked up in his native Istanbul.

tiny tools – chamber A/V – Diebl3 and Billy Roisz Wed 03, 19:30, Break Even Store


True faith Faith works in mysterious ways in Bright Future director Lee Yong-Ju’s debut film Possesed, Miruna Vasilescu writes

In the Korean horror Possessed, a young woman is trying to find her missing sister and runs up against her overly religious mother, the weird stories of the next door neighbors and the cynicism of a cop who’s not willing to believe. Teeth

“I started by being interested in faith and the fact that we should have belief in each other before we can have a relationship,” director Lee Yong-Ju says of the idea behind the film. When there’s no faith and trust between people, horror can easily squeeze in. Introducing these darker, more fantastical elements to his story of heroine HeeJin’s attempt to get to the bottom of her sister’s disappearance, Lee isn’t afraid to use some solid old-fashioned genre tricks: a weird looking bird, a bloody tooth and a bothersome cough are among the repertoire of creepy devices the director employs to keep us on edge. Some of these touches are just thrown in for the sake of unsettling the audience, but many derive from images or traditions deeply rooted in Korean culture. “In Korea, loosing teeth in your dreams is like a premonition that someone in your family will suffer, or get sick. We also say that people who are possessed have symptoms like coughs or fever,” says director Lee. Open-ended

The various strange events in which Hee-Jin becomes embroiled suggest the larger sense of mystery that Lee sees as inherent part of everyday life: “It was on purpose that there was no victory at the end,” he says of his film’s open-ended final stretch. “The audience might have been expecting this, but we never really know the paths of life, or God. I deliberately didn’t give victory to either Evil or Good.”



The recent wave of K-horror to have emerged from Lee’s homeland is a potent mix of deep fear, horrid imagery, cheap thrills, twisted plots and… comic relief. At the IFFR screening ahead of this interview, audiences for Possessed greeted a number of the scenes with laughter. Some were meant as satire, some were not. “In the film, a few scenes might have seemed exaggerated, but they’re as

real as they can be in Korea. For example, it’s very normal that a hysterical neighbor woman comes over and says weird things. That’s because there are a lot of people caught in between religions: they don’t know what to think anymore. That can come across to audiences in the West as naïve or dumb, but it has a bittersweet taste for me because there are still people in Korea who completely rely on faith,” says Lee.


For his next project, Lee (who worked as an assistant director on Bong Joon-Ho’s Memories of Murder) is going back to his first passion – architecture – in a light, horror-free story about a couple building a house. So he is not set on the horror genre – nor on any genre for that matter – the director explains. He is only interested in good stories and engaged audiences.

IFFR 2010 Daily Tiger UK #7  

Daily news from IFFR

IFFR 2010 Daily Tiger UK #7  

Daily news from IFFR