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DAILY TIGER

NEDERLANDSE EDITIE Z.O.Z

40TH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM #9 FRIDAY 4 FEBRUARy 2011

F.J. Ossang at IFFR

photo: Ruud Jonkers

Not only rock ‘n’ roll In Rotterdam for a retrospective of his work, F.J. Ossang tells Ben Walters why his film output is a bit like rock ‘n’ roll.

New Wave, Brazilian films, Chinese films. Then in ’85 I presented my first feature, L’affaire des divisions Morituri, in Rotterdam.”

“It’s a demonstration that there’s life after death,” says F.J. Ossang. He might be talking about his new film – Dharma Guns, a poetic, Orpheus-like journey through a hi-tech dystopian land of the dead marked by conspiracy and clones – but he’s actually talking about his own unorthodox career. “I died several times, but I’m still here!” Born in the Cantal region of Auvergne in 1956, Ossang has enjoyed a mixed career embracing musical and literary work – nine albums and 20 books – as well as film. “I didn’t choose really between writing, rock ‘n’ roll and cinema,” he says, “because I wouldn’t always have the chance to make a film immediately after finishing another. But that can be another kind of luck…”

Deadline

Elevator pitch

Ossang’s cinematic output ­– expressive, dreamlike, half in love with death – is the focus of a special Signals strand at this year’s IFFR, incorporating five shorts and four features, dating from 1982 to 2010. “I’m lucky because the films didn’t get old,” he says. “They age well. Young people like them – I don’t know why! Maybe because I had to struggle to make them but I made them with all the energy possible. To make film without much money, you are obliged to push cinema language.” Rotterdam has played a role in Ossang’s career from its early days. “I had a short film in Cannes in 1983 [La derniere enigme],” he recalls. “I was in the elevator and suddenly a big, tall man said ‘Oh, you are a filmmaker! My name is Hubert Bals – you must absolutely come to Rotterdam!’ So in ’84 I was here with my short film Zona inquniata. It was very formative, accentuating my curiosity for different sorts of cinema: American

Ossang’s next feature was Le tresor des iles chiennes (1990), followed in 1997 by Docteur Chance, which shot in Chile and featured Joe Strummer. “It was a wonderful experience,” Ossang recalls. “The film was difficult but he was very confident. We met again later in Paris. He was incredible – spent the whole night out until 9 o’clock in the morning, then got the bus to go and play in Brussels. The film was in Locarno because of Marco Müller, who I met in Rotterdam.” A fallow period followed in terms of filmmaking (“I wrote, travelled, made music”) until, in the middle of the last decade, opportunities arose via film festivals in Portugal and Vladivostock, resulting in the threeshort cycle Trilogie du paysage (2007-8), comprising Silencio, Vladivostock and Ciel etient! The second had a pressing deadline: “I arrived and there was a typhoon coming so they said you need to finish the film in three days!” Hoever, Ossang returned to Vladivostock a month later for Ciel etient!, which marked his first collaboration with Guy McKnight, singer with The

Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, whom he’d met in 2003 and wanted to try as an actor. “By chance he was between two tours. I called him and said, ‘Hey, come to Vladivostock!’ He said, ‘Okay!’ We had only two weeks to shoot the film but we spent a month and a half there. It was much colder than here: minus 15 degrees.” Interzone

McKnight also stars in Dharma Guns, a FrenchPortugese co-production that shot in the Azores and Auvergne and premiered at Venice last year. His character wanders a semi-apocalyptic interzone, beautifully photographed and conceptually mysterious, with meaning and reality constantly subject to question. “I love stories where the world is on the border of chaos!” laughs Ossang. “And I like to use genre. Like in literature, it can be a real inspiration. Docteur Chance was a road movie, Le tresor an adventure film, this is very gothic.” He also describes it as “cinema poesie, like Cocteau or Pasolini” and “perhaps a paranoid film because it’s without countershots”. It also takes inspiration, like much of Ossang’s work, from early cinema – he’s especially keen on iris shots. “Silent movies very quickly invented their own performative language, different from theatre and literature,” he notes. “If you look at great silent movies, the world that’s described, the evocation is much richer than normal feature films today.” He also suggests they have a universality akin to other modern forms. “Cinema is ‘Babel language’, a little bit like rock ‘n’ roll. You can play a film in Moscow, China, Buenos Aires, London.” They can even go well together: “I remember watching Eisenstein’s Strike with the Sex Pistols [as accompaniment]. It’s incredible!”

beginning of the punk movement – punk, post-punk, coldwave and industrial music. Between ’76 and ’84 was a wonderful time. I discovered bands whose songs were the perfect soundtracks: Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle. And I learned a lot of things from rock ‘n’ roll [that were useful] for cinema. It wasn’t always easy to play – you could have hostility from the crowd and the first thing is to stay on the stage. And you had to make the mind of your band think [your project] is real, is possible. With a film crew, it’s a little bit the same.” Without taking anything for granted, Ossang hopes to remain active in filmmaking in the immediate future – he has several projects, including a spy story, that could be adapted to various budgets and insists that “when I know exactly what I want to write, I can be fast because I have lots of notes”. He also feels inspired by the present historical moment. “There’s political change, but also the century has changed. Centuries begin seven or eight years late – the twentieth century began in 1905. I think now we’re at the real beginning of the new century so it’s interesting to open your eyes and shoot. So I’m back in business!”

TURN OF THE Century Docteur Chance

Ossang’s musical sensibility was shaped at an especially dynamic time. “I had the luck to be there at the

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Dharma Guns


Feeling the strain MEDIA Programme’s Aviva Silver underlines the importance of supporting European cinema as government cutbacks loom. By Geoffrey Macnab.

David Dusa

photo: Nadine Maas

Scenes from the revolution David Dusa talks to Nick Cunningham about the urgency behind the making of his latest film, Fleurs du mal.

French filmmaker David Dusa left a packed screening of his Bright Futures film Fleurs du Mal yesterday to talk about the contemporary relevance of his debut feature. The film is a love story set against the backdrop of the demonstrations that surrounded the Iranian elections of 2009. Crucial to the narrative is how the protests were reported to the world through social networking. “People on the streets were filming, using Facebook and Twitter to first of all make sure that we could see the images and secondly to organize the protest,” Dusa stresses. “This is what we have seen recently in Egypt on a massive scale, before they shut down the internet.” The film was pitched at CineMart 2010 and was selected just three months later for Cannes’ ACID programme. “We were selected at CineMart between the shooting and the editing,” he points out. “It is very rare that they will select projects that have already been shot because it’s kind of too late for partners to come in. CineMart was a really big help and it showed great confidence in my project for them to do that. It puts you on the map. And it was fantastic, as that was where we met the Cannes people.” Of course, with the prospect of a Cannes selection, Dusa had to ramp up the editing process, at which point he employed a second editor to guarantee

earlier delivery. “They were editing in two rooms and I was going back and forward between them. It was like living with two lovers – it wasn’t so easy all the time.” Nevertheless, the synthesis worked, despite one editor one being essentially “emotional” at heart, the other “cerebral” in his approach. “One would edit a scene, then we would all watch it together and then the other would work on that scene,” Dusa claims. “So it was a process during which I had to be very focussed on what I wanted. Of course, there was rivalry between them but it was worked very well. Because they felt the urge to go fast so they would keep their arguments brief.” Dusa points out the advantages of being constrained by budgetary requirements – he made his film for €120,000. “The economic frame was one of the starting up points for the project. I knew what I could and could not do. I knew what type of shooting techniques I could use. I knew that I couldn’t lock streets. I knew that I wouldn’t have 35mm, so the script was written to the economic frame which was very nice, because then when you are shooting you never think that you are compromised by economic considerations. I knew exactly how much shooting time I would have because that’s what costs money. It was shot in 18 days.” “The whole thing was done in 9 months, from writing to Cannes, all together. There was a dynamic in it. It seems crazy now but at the time there were people I met who felt the urgency and who felt they wanted to be part of that dynamic.”

Shahabi stays on Iranian producer and sales agent Katayoon Shahabi is on extended stay in Rotterdam this year, having agreed to NETPAC jury service. The NETPAC Award is given to the best Asian film at IFFR 2011. Other jury members are Ratna Sarumpaet (Indonesia) and Zhang Xian-min (China). Shahabi is also banging the sales drum for four documentaries she has produced, as well two new features. One Two One (producer Abolghasem Ashrafi Amiri) is the latest film by Iranian director and actress Mania Akbari, whose 20 Fingers won the Digital Cinema Award at Venice 2004. Her second film 10 + 4 won many international prizes, including the public prize in Nantes. One Two One is the story of a beautiful woman in a love triangle. “Akbari’s cinema is like no other Iranian filmmaker, as she expresses herself through an aesthetic atmosphere,” comments Shahabi. The other film that Shahabi is selling is Death is my Profession, the debut feature by Iranian actor Amir Hossein Saghafi. “This film is about people who must face death in order to live”, Shahabi observes. Shahabi has recently produced four documenta-

ries, each around 55 minutes in length, that assess the “new generation in Iran”. All four were produced simultaneously out of a Tehran-based workshop organized by Shahabi, for which four emerging Iranian filmmakers were selected. “I think they are very original films, because they are about the directors themselves,” Shahabi stresses. “In Iranian culture, we are not used to talking about our personal lives and personal issues. Two of these films were made by women, and they are talking about why they don’t want to have children, about their relationships with their husbands, how they feel. From this point of view they are very original, because it is the first time in an Iranian documentary you have an Iranian woman talking about her feelings so openly.” Another of Shahabi’s docs is about a man’s relationship with his father, whom he blames for his family’s poverty. The fourth is about a writer seeking success who is forced to assess the diminishing chances of realizing his dream. “It is the story of many Iranians now who want to progress,” claims Shahabi. Nick Cunningham

2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the EU’s MEDIA Programme. “Europe loves cinema” trumpets the slogan on the Programme’s website. Over the last two decades, MEDIA has pumped hundreds of millions of pounds into European audiovisual culture.  Here at Rotterdam, both the official festival programme and the CineMart  have been full of projects from producers who’ve received support from MEDIA. Many have passed through schemes like the MEDIAbacked EAVE (European Producers Workshop). Several of these producers are also part of the Association Ateliers du Cinéma Européen (ACE) network, also supported by MEDIA. Thanks to MEDIA-backed training scheme Passion To Market (PTM), a collaboration between film schools Lodz in Poland, La Femis in France and the National Film & Television School in the UK, several young producers and directors have also been attending Rotterdam. So what has MEDIA achieved over the last two decades, and what faces it now, at a time of turbulence and contraction in public funding across Europe? The Daily Tiger put these questions to Aviva Silver, Head of the MEDIA and Media Literacy Unit at the European Commission, who was in Rotterdam earlier this week. Silver pinpoints MEDIA’s “big successes” as its contribution to “building up” the cinema network of Europa Cinemas and its investment

in training throughout Europe. “That will have a durable effect. Even if the MEDIA Programme was to stop tomorrow, the effect of creating these different training projects, like ACE and EAVE, will have had a tremendous impact on the sector.” MEDIA 2007, the most recent programme running from 2007 to 2013, is worth €755 million. That budget is likely to come under severe strain when the next programme comes into being in 2014. As Silver acknowledges, the European industry is still facing severe structural problems. With the recent squeeze on national government public spending on film across Europe, the MEDIA Programme is currently being “submerged” in applications for funding. Silver points out that MEDIA can’t singlehandedly solve the European film industry’s problems. However, she also notes that “cinema is one of the few sectors that is resisting the financial crisis. If we want European companies and European employment and European revenues to increase along with the increases in this sector, we need to accompany the sector in its transition to digital and to new business platforms and new business models. Cutting resources at this stage is going to handicap everyone.”  And what of Rotterdam? “It’s an amazing festival. It’s like a mini-Berlin or a mini-Cannes. You have the opportunity to see many people in a very, very relaxed environment,” she enthuses. During her time here, she held the first of what she hopes will be annual meetings of the MEDIA MUNDUS programme, which aims to bolster cultural and commercial relations between Europe’s film industry and filmmakers in third countries.

Love your Tiger footage Professionals assessing festival fare at the Video Library on the fourth floor of De Doelen seem to prefer Tiger titles, with nine of the top ten mostviewed films coming from that programme. Top of the pile is festival opener Wasted Youth, with 97 views. The only non-Tiger title in the top ten, Attenberg (Bright Future), makes it in at number ten with 55 views. The Video Library service has 2,200 registered users. To end of business on Wednesday, the service (including wi-fi streaming of titles) had racked up 6,500 registered views, plus an additional 600 (approx.) unregistered views. “It is us running really efficiently, very fast,” claims Library chief Rob Duyser. “Every year we’ve made improvements and the video quality is much higher. We take full resolution video from DVDs now, whereas beforehand we used to scale everything down to PAL resolution. So the picture quality is getting better. The all-round experience of using the service is a lot more userfriendly. You don’t have to wait at all. It’s just one click and there are 450-odd titles in the service, which means people can see most of the stuff in the programme.” In terms of usage, there seems to have been a greater concentration of business and sales per-

sonnel this year, which has an effect on viewing trends. “When the library is busy with industry people, there is a lot more browsing around the programme,” Duyser explains. “When it is busy with programmers or filmmakers, you get longer hauls of video running at the same time, which tells you that those sort of people watch a film in its entirety, whereas industry people tend to click around, watch bits of the films and go through a lot more titles.” Nick Cunningham Top 10 Video Library titles to end of Feb 2 (number of views):

1. Wasted Youth ................................. 97 2. Vete más lejos, Alicia ...................... 75 3. Flying Fish .......................................74 4. Finisterrae ...................................... 73 5. The Sky Above................................. 70 6. Headshots ....................................... 70 7. Todos tus meurtos .......................... 64 8. Eternity............................................57 9. Gromozeka ..................................... 56 10. Attenberg ....................................... 55

Second MovieSquad win for Dolan Les amours imaginaires (Xavier Dolan, Canada, 2010) has won the MovieSquad IFFR Award, announced by the IFFR young people’s jury at the MovieSquad Award Ceremony, last night in Pathé 4. By Mark Baker. Having spent several days watching films, meeting directors and the press and enjoying parties, the MovieSquad jury – made up of Rutger van Loo (16); Johann Schuur (18); Joren Molter (17); Eveline de Haan (15) and Wouter van der Vaart (17) – selected the winner from twenty festival titles. The other nominees for the award were Illégal (Olivier Masset-Depasse, Belgium/Luxemburg/France, 2010) and Pure (Lisa Langseth, Sweden, 2010). The award consists of € 2,000 to spend on the promotion of the film among young people in the Netherlands, and a chance to be programmed in one of the EYE Film Institutes’s educational programmes. In their statement, the jury said: “The balance between humor and serious sensitive scenes is excellent. The story is told in different story lines and scenes which makes the film very entertaining to watch. The use of silences combined with the different story layers makes Les amours imaginaires very strong and touching.” Les amours imaginaires has been released in the Netherlands by ABC-Cinemien. Dolan won the same Award last year for his debut film J’ai tué ma mere.

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Sister act Paula Siero drew from her experience of a family bereavement for her feature debut, she tells Edward Lawrenson.

Kommander Kulas

Master and Kommander Franz Kafka, Filipino westerns and Sgt Pepper are just a few of the inspirations behind Khavn de la Cruz’s Kommander Kulas. By Ben Walters.

At 37, Filipino wunderkind Khavn de la Cruz has 70 shorts and 30 features under his belt. Yet film, he says, “doesn’t actually take up too much of my time.” Khavn (as he’s known) is also a writer, with his fourth and fifth books in the works, and musician (“I’m juggling three bands, two of them with albums coming up”). “At the beginning of the year, I say ‘I’m not going to make any films this year’,” he claims. “Then I end up making four. I come from a poetry background; I used to write every day. Now film is at that level: you can just grab a camera. I’m not quite making a film a day – though it’s possible…” A Rotterdam regular since 2005, Khavn is at IFFR 2011 with two titles. Kommander Kulas: The One and Only Concert of the Amazing Kommander Kulas and His Poor Carabao in the Long and Unwinding Road of Kamias, a world premiere, is a mythic story of loss and desire, loosely based on Khavn’s own novel. Conceived as “Don Quixote meets Sgt Pepper”, its inspirations ranged from Kafka’s Metamorphosis to the Filipino westerns of Khavn’s youth. “I wanted to make it like a cowboy flick, but it became this abstract installation,” he says. “The main concept is this guy waking up without his heart, looking for it and never finding it. Such is life, you know? Tragic, comic, searching for something you might not find but it’s all about the

journey. It’s very structured. I knew specifically what I wanted to shoot.” That includes Kulas, searching on buffalo-back; various characters in states of distress and undress (one in a clinch with a pig’s head) and an unusual piano glimpsed at numerous locations. “We just constructed that piano using bamboo,” Khavn says. “It’s not as heavy as a real piano but it took four or five of us carrying it from one place to another.” It’s eventually and spectacularly destroyed by fire. “We’re not really arsonists. We just put some gas on it – we didn’t expect the flames to go so high. There were neighbours on both sides and it was really hot, but no one was hurt.” Meanwhile, Son of God gets its international premiere. Directed with Danish filmmaker Michael Noer, who also appears, it’s a collaboration for Copenhagen’s Dox:Lab workshop that blends documentary about religious outpourings with the bizarre story of a diminutive saviour. “Michael and I met around November and shot in January when the feasts of the Black Nazarene and Santo Nino take place,” Khavn recalls of their hybrid approach. “You can shoot everything – let it all in and then edit out what doesn’t work.” As 2011 gets underway, Khavn already has three more films in the bag and two underway. Who knows what would happen to his cinematic practice if he started devoting serious time to it… Kommander Kulas – Khavn de la Cruz

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Speaking after the international premiere of her feature debut El agua del fin del mundo  [The Water at the End of the World], director Paula Siero fondly notes the warm reception the audience has given her film. “I had doubts,” she says of her nerves before the first screening outside her native Argentina, “because the story is so local and so personal – you never know if you can reach out to audiences in another country.” A gentle and moving drama about the relationship between twentysomething Laura (Guadalupe Docampo) and her terminally ill older sister Adriana (Diana Lamas) in contemporary Buenos Aires, the film was inspired by a tragic episode in Siero’s own life. “My sister became ill and died some years ago,” says Siero, “All of a sudden I decided I wanted to write about this. I wrote for about a year, without even thinking it was a movie. But then I realized it could be a script: I worked on it with someone else, then started looking for a director. More time passed, and I though, ‘Hey, I’ll direct this myself.’” She adds: “I should say the film was inspired by and in honour of my sister, but everything is fictional. The only thing I really wanted to project is the strength she showed when she was ill: the character of Adriana is like a warrior. It’s like a tribute to my sister.” An actress herself, Siero originally planned to play Laura, but decided to cast someone else because the character “needed an outside view”. Docampo and Lamas didn’t know one another so Siero used five months of rehearsal for them to develop a close relationship: “Now they’re really good friends.” With a shooting budget of around $100,000, the film was shot on HD, partly, says Siero, because “it’s a movie about acting, and if the acting hadn’t been good then the film wouldn’t have worked – so I had to shoot a lot of footage. Because we had five months of rehearsal, when the actors were on set they just knew exactly what to do.” Was she nervous directing a film for the first time? “No! I couldn’t believe it; I thought I was going to

El agua del fin del mundo

be a wreck because it was so stressful. But it felt really natural. I knew I had to do this film. There were many problems because it was so low budget. For example, the movie should really have taken eight weeks to shoot, and we did it in five weeks. My motto was: we had to adapt. If there was a problem, we had to solve it.” An example was when Siero came to film a scene she’d written on the Buenos Aires subway system. “There was a strike when I was supposed to film. I’d planned to shoot there for five days, but instead they gave me one day, from 12 at night to 4 in the morning. I had to shoot what I’d planned for five days in three hours and a half hours and in 42 degrees heat! I thought I wouldn’t make it, but we did it, and I was happy with the footage.” So will she direct again: “If I have a good story I want to do, then yes. I’m writing right now, so we’ll see.” El agua del fin del mundo – Paula Siero

Fri 04 22:15 CI5

Horse trading The Seventh Bullet (screening in the Red Westerns sidebar) had a long and complicated gestation, the film’s director Ali Khamraev tells Geoffrey Macnab. Andrei Konchalovsky, the director of Asya’s Happiness, was originally supposed to make the film under the title Bandits in the late 1960s. However, when the Soviet authorities refused to allow him to make the movie at the length that he wanted, Konchalovsky sent the script he and Fridrik Gorenstein had written to Uzbek director Ali Khamraev instead, suggesting that he take it over. “I read the script, I liked it and I decided to try to make the film,” Khamraev recalls. The authorities in Tashkent frowned on the project

because of the way the script dealt with the Russian civil war of the 1920s: the anti-communists were portrayed in too sympathetic a fashion. Khamraev signed a form saying that he would never make the movie. In return, the impoverished screenwriter Gorenstein was paid. That, it seemed, was that. The project appeared to be dead. Five years later, the head of the studio contacted Khamraev urgently to tell him that one film planned for that year had not been approved by Moscow. They therefore needed a replacement quickly. Khamraev dusted down the script, retitled it The Seventh Bullet (partly in homage to The Magnificent Seven) and set to work. The film starred Suimenkul Chokmorov as a heroic Bolshevik commander pitted against anti-Soviet troops. As Khamraev remembers, Chokmorov was

the perfect actor for a ‘red western’: having grown up in the countryside, he knew all about horses. “When I offered him the part, I said: ‘you have to do it better than Americans and I know you can’,” the director recalls. “He was taking care of the horse we were using in the film. He was feeding her, cleaning her … this horse would follow him round like a dog.” During the editing, Khamraev risked falling foul of the censors. “There were a few scenes that were extremely cruel and I was told to cut them out.” The director was obliged to make changes. After he had done so, he went to the lab with cakes and champagne, and begged the editors to re-insert the missing footage. When the film was shown, the authorities were furious. Khamraev pretended that he didn’t know quite how many frames he was sup-

posed to have removed. Toward the end of the film, there is a scene of horses carrying the dead body of a girl. The studio boss insisted that the film had to finish optimistically and that this scene must be taken out. However, the scene also features a red Soviet banner. That gave the director the excuse to contact Moscow and to ask the authorities: “Are you sure you want to cut the red banner out of the film?” “No way!” responded the Moscow authorities. The studio boss was contacted and told that under no circumstances could the ending be changed. This way, Khamraev was able to smuggle his own version of the film past the censors. The Seventh Bullet – Ali

Khamraev

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The Seventh Bullet

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Training days

Remembering Rotterdam As part of our commemorative coverage of the IFFR’s fortieth anniversary, Francine Brücher, Head of International Promotion at Swiss Films, shares her most vivid memories of the event.

Tour of duty: Max Goldberg, Eunice Baez Sanchez, Matthew Cheng, Julian Ross, Delfina Krüsemann and Vladimir Lukin 

Now in its 13th year, the IFFR Young Critics Trainee Programme sees the IFFR invite six international young journalists to attend the festival, and offer them a range of opportunities (including blogging on many of the festival events and FIPRESCI jury duty) in order to develop their journalistic experience and critical awareness. Edward Lawrenson reports.

Past members of the scheme have gone on to high-profile posts, including Gavin Smith (IFFR trainee 1999, now editor of Film Comment) and Mark Peranson (IFFR trainee 1999, now editor of Cinema Scope). Gertjan Bleeker exudes a certain pride when going through the list of past participants in the programme, which he coordinates. This sense of pride is

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partly professional. Inviting six young journalists to write about the IFFR’s activities is part of the festival’s broader commitment to champion bold and challenging film culture. The programme also helps trainees establish informal career opportunities, long after they’ve left Rotterdam. “The former trainees, especially the more recent ones, are often in touch with one another. We’re seeing

photo: Nadine Maas

them use one another, for advice and job tips.” To improve the networking role of the programme, Bleeker this year introduced a breakfast meeting between current and former trainees. But the satisfaction Bleeker expresses in the success of his trainees is clearly personal – at least for the trainees he has worked with. “I really like getting to know the trainees,” he says, “For most of the time, I’m running a professional and busy programme of events for them: they’re journalists and I’m a press officer. But when we go out to dinner at the end of the day, the roles are relaxed, and it’s a pleasure getting to know them.”

I came in 1973. At that time, I was a sales agent in Munich with Filmverlag Der Autoren (representing Wenders, Kluge, Schroeter, Edgar Reitz, Fassbinder and Schlörndorff, and all these filmmakers). Hubert Bals was a friend of Laurens Straub, who did the distribution for the company. Huub would come to Munich and look at all these films. The first three years of Rotterdam were mostly the New German Cinema. Huub Bals was very impressed by all these films. At that time, we were even showing these German films (in Rotterdam) before they would go to competition in Cannes. Fassbinder’s Fear Eats The Soul first screened here in 1974, and then it went on to competition in Cannes. I remember Fassbinder came. The main actor, El Hedi ben Salem, the Moroccan boy who was Fassbinder’s lover, came here too. He was very drunk, very excited. I am sure it was the first time he had been to a film festival. During the screening, he would get up and shout out “C’est moi!” You can imagine! Fassbinder was very upset and said that he would never again go to a film festival. He didn’t come to Cannes. Then we had the Wim Wenders film, Kings of the Road. That was also shown here before going into competition in Cannes. We also had the film by Daniel Schmid, Shadow of Angels, produced by Fassbinder, with Fassbinder playing the main character. That was also here before going to Cannes. This is something that today is unthinkable. Huub wanted to keep these films in distribution. That’s how he started the whole distribution [arm] of the Rotterdam Film Festival. Fassbinder didn’t travel so much to festivals, but he liked Rotterdam. When he was traveling with a film, it was only for two days – the screening, and then he would go back. He was never traveling alone. He was always with the actors. They were like a family. He always used the same actors. This was why it was possible for him to make so many films. Sometimes, he would make three films a year. The actors were ready to work with him for very little money because when Fassbinder had a production for German television, he would make sure that they got parts – and there they were very well paid. These filmmakers were all coming [to Rotterdam] because of Bals. He was really a close friend to them. Maybe more toward Wenders, because Fassbinder was not very communicative. But all these filmmakers realized immediately that Hubert admired them and admired their work. It was all about the films and bringing the films to the audience. Geoffrey Macnab

14/01/2011 19:27:14


Daily Tiger #9 UK