NEDERLANDSE EDITIE Z.O.Z
38TH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM #3 SATURDAY 24 JANUARY 2009
photo: Daniëlle van Ark
Not for those of a nervous disposition? Actress Ariyana, who performs in Garin Nugroho’s Under the Tree (included in IFFR’s Hungry Ghosts sidebar), mesmerised visitors to the opening of the Haunted House exhibition in Rotterdam’s former photo museum (at Witte de Withstraat 63) on Thursday night. The Haunted House is open throughout the festival, daily from 17.00 to 24.00 hours, admission free. See page 3 for full story
Requiem for a welterweight Subject of an IFFR retrospective, veteran Polish filmmaker Jerzy Skolimowski talks to Geoffrey Macnab Flashback to the late 1940s. At the King George College School in Podebrady, a small spa town 30km east of Prague, 70 or so pupils are deep in their studies. The school – a former fortress – was set up by Lady Baden-Powell, wife of the founder of the Scouts. Its pupils are problem kids, war orphans and the children of foreign diplomats. The regime is tough and spartan. Nonetheless, the school has some remarkable students. One, Vaclav Havel, will one day become President of the Czech Republic. Also there at the same time are Milos Forman and Ivan Passer (to become distinguished filmmakers). And a certain young Pole: Jerzy Skolimowski (subject of a retrospective in IFFR’s Signals section). “It was a little bit like an English school in the middle of Eastern Europe,” Skolimowski recalls of his years in Podebrady. “Forman was the boss of our dormitory. I worked on school papers with Vaclav Havel. I helped him with drawings and all that stuff while he did Latin and Greek for me in return.” Communist takeover After Skolimowski’s father was killed in a concentration camp, his mother decided that the best way to take care of the family was to use her knowledge
his life he deals with directly in Walkover (1966). “Obviously, it wasn’t professional boxing,” he recalls. “I had sixteen fights in the ring. I didn’t win all of them. I actually lost quite a lot.” Boxing, he suggests today, gave him confidence. At the same he was boxing, he was also writing poetry. “Maybe I wanted to balance the fact that I was writing poetry, which wasn’t an extremely masculine occupation.”
Four Nights With Anna
of languages and culture. She was to become the cultural attaché of the Polish embassy in Prague – hence Skolimowski’s four years as a classmate of Forman, Havel, et al. His mother refused to join the Communist Party. She therefore lost her job in what Skolimowski describes as “the dramatic moments of 1952,” when the Communists came to power and Poland was re-named the Polish People’s Republic. He and his mother were obliged to return to Warsaw.
In subsequent years, Skolimowski ran across Forman and Passer from time to time. At a reception in Paris, he encountered Havel. By then, his old school friend was President of the Czech Republic. Havel, he recalls, told him that he hadn’t changed at all. “I paid him the same compliment, although he had a moustache and looked quite different.” As a young man in the Poland of the 1950s, Skolimowski wasn’t just a filmmaker. He was also a highly proficient welterweight boxer – a part of
Autobiographical The Polish director freely admits that his early films were autobiographical. “Of course, I tried to make camouflage it as much as I could, but I couldn’t help talking about myself because that was probably the only subject I could master at that time. I was very young and hadn’t had much opportunity to have a broader sense of looking at the world.” Over the years, Skolimowski went on to make films not only in Poland, but also in Britain, Italy, Belgium and the US. Ask him which of his features he cherishes most, and he still points to the early Polish work. “From time to time, I see my films in retrospectives. Some I feel were pretty good for the time they were made.” (continues on page 3)
Blonde ambition Erstwhile Daily Tiger writer Sandy Bridges (Ms) sends her fond regards to IFFR from the US
Hi guys, Sandy here! Well, I’m not actually here this year, I’m visiting mom and dad in Alaska, but that’s here to me, so I should stick to it, right! The editor asked me to write about my pre-conscriptions of the festival from the Stateside point of view, and now we have Mr Obama in on the White House, I have to promise to be honest about it and help save the country. So here I go. What I think is really cool this year is the actor guy Rutger Hauer is still the boss of the film festival! I looked for him last year all the time so he could sign my DVD of The Hitchiker, but he must have been in those long meetings like all the rest of them. Note to ed: does that fact that Mr Hauer is running it mean that everyone has to bleach their hair to work there? Anyway, I saw that he has taken a bit of notice of our dishy new Prez with the “change is my mantra-ray” thing at the festival. That’s cos the sections all look a bit different to what they’ve been like before. I bet the ones before him will be foaming at their mouths, now that it’s all been redone. One thing is that I hope they have improved the signage there, as now it has all changed around, people will get lost even easier. Anyway, I will write another one of these later on cos now I am going out duck hunting with my dad. L8r! Sandy. PS: Another note to ed: can I have my job there back next year? I know they fired me for disruption, but I could come and pretend to be someone else. SB :-)
(continued from page 1)
Intimate images Skolimowski has mixed feelings about his time in Britain, which yielded such movies as The Shout and Moonlighting. “I had an impression that I was welcome there, but my last experience in England, Success is My Best Revenge, turned out to be a tragic incident. The film was eventually taken over by the bank. Finally, I got so fed up I moved to California.” These days, Skolimowski divides his time between homes in Malibu and Poland. There has been a lengthy hiatus between Skolimowski’s previous feature Thirty Door Key in 1991 and his new film, Four Nights With Anna. Why the delay? Skolimowski explains that he has waited to return to directing until he found a film he could make on his own terms. “I wanted to do something that I could shoot around my house, which is in the lake district of Poland. I wanted to have everything under control. In a way, the size of the film I wanted to do dictated the subject. I didn’t want to do any epic drama.” Four Nights With Anna is about a middle-aged, vulnerable and socially awkward man obsessed with a beautiful nurse. It is – as its director says – “an intimate study of a human soul.” Having completed Four Nights With Anna, he has another film project in the works, Essential Killing. It’s not a film he is ready yet to discuss, but it’s likely to be in similar vein formally to its predecessor. “I am not a great admirer of the dialogue scenes. I am much more interested in images,” he declares.
Re-Birth of a Nation Independent Turkish cinema is on the resurgence right now. Turkish film critic Emine Yildirim explains why, and applauds IFFR’s survey of the country’s young talent
One of the major strands at IFFR this year is Young Turkish Cinema (YTC). The title suggests a newly emergent national cinema. In fact, the Turkish film industry is long-established, at least since the 1960s heyday of Yesilcam, the popular and prolific Hollywood-style studio system. And yet the young, independent-minded filmmakers whose recent work is celebrated by IFFR this year have certainly helped revitalize their national cinema, setting Turkish cinema off in exciting and new directions, diverging from its past traditions. Independent spirit Focusing on the country’s up-and-coming talents, YTC boasts four feature debuts and a second feature from a generation of Turkish filmmakers now in their twenties and thirties. But it also features the early work of now-renowned, mid-generation directors such as Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Yesim Ustaoglu and Dervis Zaim. A big hit on the festival circuit – Ceylan’s Three Monkeys won the best director award at Cannes 2008 – these older directors have helped draw national and international attention to younger local filmmakers; as well as IFFR, Thessaloniki, Göteborg and Crossing Europe Linz festivals have been very supportive of new Turkish cinema. “The acknowledgement works both ways,” notes Selim
Evci (director of YTC entry Two Lines) of the international critical interest in his national cinema. “It’s based on the success of the previous generation – and of course, on the younger generation making good films.” While the films selected under the YTC banner are aesthetically disparate, they are share a certain independent spirit: inspired by the example of filmmakers like Ceylan, these directors have pursued a personal or social agenda, with minimal commercial pressures. Maintaining independent integrity can be difficult given the few sources of financial support: the Turkish Ministry of Culture remains the one significant local funder. Of course, international finance initiatives help the independent sector, particularly the Hubert Bals Fund: HBF-supported titles in the YTC strand include Yesim Ustaoglu’s Pandora’s Box, Seyfi Teoman’s Summer Book and Kazim Öz’s The Storm. Young guns But let’s get back to the heart of the programme: the work of the young guns. Receiving its world premiere at IFFR, Mehmet Bahadir Er and Maryna Gorbach’s Black Dogs Barking is an electrifying debut, following the misadventures of two restless lads in Istanbul. Reeking of street-level authenticity, the film explores the struggle of society’s underdogs trying to make it big in a transient urban landscape. Selim Evci’s Two Lines is a thought-provoking work that observes the altering dynamics of male-female relationships in modern Turkey: a work of sly minimalism, the film suggests Turkish men have only superficially
adopted modern values, while remaining traditional patriarchs underneath. Özcan Alper’s Autumn follows the evocative journey of Yusuf, a former left-wing activist returning to his hometown in the Black Sea region, as he reflects on his lost youth: Alper’s striking imagery of his hero’s homeland and his haunting atmosphere evoke the mournful cost of Yusuf’s activism, a generation of struggle that is a neglected part of recent Turkish history. Kazim Öz’s second feature, The Storm, also looks back at the politically tumultuous 1990s, presenting that decade’s student movement through its portrait of a group of Kurdish university students in Istanbul, caught up in agitating for social change and coming to terms with their cultural identities. Seyfi Teoman’s Summer Book is another compelling debut. Minimal yet pungent, it is the coming-of-age story of a ten-year-old boy grappling with questions of life, death and family strife in his provincial town. One of the best surprises of the year however was Mahmut Fazil Coskun’s debut Wrong Rosary, which is competing for the VPRO Tiger Award – the first Turkish film in the history of the competition. Should a Muslim cleric fall in love with a Catholic nun? Coskun’s insightful take on multi-cultural Istanbul is definitely a strong contender, and its success would further confirm the vibrancy of Turkey’s burgeoning independent film scene. Today from 17.00 to 18.00 hours in the Van Cappellen Zaal in De Doelen, Dutch, Turkish and international critics will enter into a debate, chaired by US critic Howard Feinstein. Admission free.
Ghosts in the machine “Who still thinks that ghosts live outside of them? You are wrong. They live inside of us” whispered the mesmerizing Ariyana, an actress from Garin Nugroho’s Under the Tree, during a special ritual performance at the Thursday night opening of the Haunted House. Stephanie Harmon was bewitched
Amidst fragrant incense and flowers floating in offering bowls, spirits were abundantly present at the well-attended installation. A labyrinth of mysterious spaces, spooky darkrooms with ‘real’ ghosts, and elaborate altars, the Haunted House has been conjured up in the former photo museum. This exhibit is part of the Signals: Hungry Ghosts programme curated by Gertjan Zuilhof, and was created by six Asian filmmakers, including Nguyen
Vinh Son (Vietnam), Lav Diaz (Phillipines), Garin Nugroho and Riri Riza (both from Indonesia). Thursday evening also saw the official opening of two other IFFR art exhibitions. At the V2_, Institute for Unstable Media, Alex Adriaansens and Rutger Wolfson kicked off WARUM 2.0, Stefaan Decostere’s “installation arena.” This multimedia panorama investigates the impact of documentary images. WARUM 2.0 builds on Decostere’s earlier work, the film Warum wir Männer die Technik so Lieben, which is being shown as part of the Signals: Regained programme on Saturday 31 January. Across the street at TENT., Aspect Ratio opened to a full crowd. The exhibition, curated by IFFR programmer Edwin Carels, focuses on the human factor in a progressively expanding technological universe and includes an impressive selection of works by Ken Jacobs, Morgan Fisher, and others.
38 TH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com
Warum 2.0 V2_ photo: Ruud Jonkers
Splitting the pie
DIY SOS As Rotterdam Film Lab gets underway today, Nick Cunningham looks ahead to the event’s main themes
Building on last year’s brainstorming sessions designed to help set up a framework for future CineMarts, the Rotterdam Lab producer training sessions this year will focus squarely on DIY distribution models and techniques for cross-media platform story-telling. US filmmaker and CineMart veteran Brian Chirls will workshop three projects in development by Lab producers and explore alternative approaches to their eventual distribution. Meanwhile, his countryman Lance Weiler, whose 2009 CineMart project Him is already generating much interest among sales agents and coproducers, will give Lab delegates the benefit of his experience in cross-media filmmaking. Lab activities kick off this afternoon. “When I looked at what we discussed last year, I realised that the future was about educating filmmakers about new filmmaking techniques, as well as the emerging possibilities of film financing and finding an audience for their films,” comments CineMart chief Marit van den Elshout. “A lot of our filmmakers in Rotterdam don’t know much about this stuff – they are creative people who are artistically driven. How can they deal with the marketing of their films across many multi-media platforms? So we thought it would be a good idea to start with the 50 producers selected for the Rotterdam Lab, most of whom are at the beginning of their careers.” The Rotterdam Lab initiative was launched in 2001 to address the perceived lack of industry savvy among new producers. Producers attending, who are nominated by national and regional partner organizations such as the UK Film Council, KOFIC and the New Zealand Film Commission, are offered an essential array of industry related activities. These include intensive speed-dating sessions with high-calibre industry executives, during which advice can be granted on the producers’ own projects. Consultants are available throughout the CineMart to advise on all industry facets and to help delegates develop an international network of contacts.
I’ll Be Watching…
Amat Escalante, the Mexico-based director of Los Bastardos (The Bastards), says: “With the risk of seeming patriotic, I must recommend Los Herederos (The Inheritors) by Eugenio Polgovsky, a wonderful and powerful Mexican documentary that not only shows us the struggle of its subject [children in an impoverished part of Mexico], but lets us almost experience it in the flesh. I was really moved by this true cinematic work.” Los Herederos Eugenio Polgovsky Pathé 4 Wed 28 Jan 15:45 Pathé 2 Thu 29 Jan 19:30 Cinerama 7 Sat 31 Jan 14:45
Stop Press This evening, Film Office staff welcome all filmmakers to drinks in the Sales & Industry Club on the fourth flour of De Doelen between 19.00 and 20.30 hours.
The funding and commissioning duties of the Rotterdam Film Fund are now to be handled by two separate agencies. Fund boss Jacques van Heijningen tells Nick Cunningham about the change
Jacques van Heijningen, director of the newlyestablished Rotterdam Media Fund, updated the Daily Tiger yesterday about the amended structure of the city’s funding and promotional agencies. Prior to 1 January 2009, Heijningen oversaw the offices of both the Rotterdam Film Fund and Film Commission. After a 2007 report, compiled by the Economic Development Board Rotterdam, advised that the two institutions should be run independently, Van Heijningen took over the newly named Media Fund. The new Rotterdam Media Commission was subsequently split into three divisions – film/TV, radio/music and games/internet – and is now solely responsible for the national and international promotion of all matters audiovisual within the city. Until a Media Commissioner is appointed, however, Van Heijningen will continue in his role of Rotterdam’s promoter-in-chief, at least until after Cannes 2009. While Fund coffers have been cut from €3.2 million to €2.5 million, Van Heijningen is very optimistic that his full operational budget will be restored after May 2009, and furthermore increased in 2010. He also confirmed that the Rotterdam Media Commission will now operate on a budget of €1 million per year. Funding for both is sourced from the Economic Department of the Rotterdam government. “The government can see that the Fund is working,” Van Heijningen asserts. “The new demarcation of duties between the departments is a sign of the government’s commitment to driving more business through Rotterdam, which will significantly
Jacques van Heijningen
increase the influence of the city. Eighty per cent of Dutch audiovisual business is in Amsterdam. We want a bigger slice of the pie.” According to Van Heijningen, the development of a private film fund financed by Rotterdam’s “captains of industry”, announced at Rotterdam 2008, is proceeding “as planned.” “When we started discussions in Cannes last year we set a go date of 2011,” he points out. “That gives us time to set it up properly. It will be big money. When I suggested an eventual pot of €50 million, nobody fell off their chair. But all the investors want to be sure it will
photo: Daniëlle van Ark
work as we promise.” Films in Rotterdam supported by the Rotterdam Film Fund include Noud Heerkens’ Last Conversation starring Johanna ter Steege and screening in Bright Future, and Zara by Ayten Mutlu Saray, in which the Rotterdam-based production house Pal AV is the minority co-production partner. Following the Dutch Treats screening of Esther Trots’ Can Go Through Skin, the film will screen in the Berlinale Forum. The Fund will also present the Made in Rotterdam showcase of features and shorts made in the city over the last twelve months.
Dutch funding on the right track After eight years at the helm, Toine Berbers will be leaving his position as head of the Dutch Film Fund in early July. In an interview with the Daily Tiger, he tells Geoffrey Macnab about the current state of Dutch production and the thinking behind recent Fund initiatives
A common criticism of the Dutch industry is that it’s too fragmented and needs consolidation. In a bid to ensure continuity of production, the Dutch Film Fund is therefore now focusing extra financial support on the twelve most successful production houses in the Netherlands. The idea is that these will apply for subsidy on a project-by-project basis. Two-thirds of the €14 million or so per annum available through the Fund’s feature film scheme will be reserved solely for these twelve companies. The intended scheme is currently the subject of discussion with the Dutch producers.
“The twelve companies favoured by the Fund have no guarantee that their projects will be more easily funded. They still have to meet the quality criteria, but the whole idea is that reputation and track record will weigh more heavily,” Berbers says of the scheme, which won’t offer slate funding – an option some producers may have preferred. There is also funding available through the supplementary fund (the ‘Matching Fund’), which provides the last third of a film’s budget if the rest of the financing is already secured. Berbers indicates that the scheme is likely to be tweaked. “What we’ve found is that a few films for which the supplementary scheme was not intended – artistic films geared toward a small public – have also profited from the scheme,” Berbers acknowledges. He and his team will therefore advise the Minister of Culture to modify the rules, so that films which can profit from the scheme are all aimed at wide audiences.
Many in the Dutch industry have voiced concern at the box-office performance of Dutch art house movies, which often struggle to garner more than a few thousand admissions. Berbers admits disappointment at these films’ theatrical showing, but points out that Dutch art house movies are being received enthusiastically by international festivals. The paradox is that these films are more appreciated abroad than at home. “We will keep on investing in these films and we will also invest in exhibition support for these films,” Berbers declared. It is yet to be decided who will replace Berbers when he leaves the Fund in the summer. “I feel it is time to move on after eight years,” he says of his decision to depart. He is confident that he has left Dutch production in a healthier state than when he arrived at the Fund in 2001. Market share for Dutch movies is increasing. So, it seems, is the presence of Dutch films at foreign festivals. “We are definitely on the right track,” he stated.
New Unifrance head STEADIES SHIP Antoine de Clermont-Tonnerre, the newly elected Unifrance President, has vowed to help French sales agents and producers weather the current financial crisis. Geoffrey Macnab reports
Earlier this week, de Clermont-Tonnerre was elected as Unifrance President by absolute majority by Board of Directors members present. He succeeds outgoing President Margaret Menegoz. “There is a challenge to try to promote films on the international market. The world is changing very quickly. The crisis obliges everybody to think deeply about the best ways to reach new markets,” de Clermont-Tonnerre said yesterday. “Already this year, the Foreign Affairs ministry has reduced its contribution to Unifrance as it has been reducing all its contributions to cultural expendi-
ture,” the new President notes. “Unifrance has been hurt by that. But Margaret Menegoz, the former President, negotiated support with the Ministry of Trade that I will be in charge of exercising, and which is different, but hopefully we will reduce the gap. Everybody is obliged to think of more efficient ways to work. It is not a reduced budget but it’s not an expansion.” De Clermont-Tonnerre is expected to announce his choice of General Manager for Unifrance shortly. He confirmed that he intends to remain active as a producer through his company, MACT Productions, which he runs with his wife, Martine de Clermont-Tonnerre. “We have many films in preparation and we are certainly not going to reduce our activity, but I will give some time as President to representing Unifrance and trying to find new sources of finance
38TH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com
and new ways of working,” he says. De Clermont-Tonnerre is a veteran producer with wide experience of the international market. He has co-produced all around the world and is also knowledgeable about the international sales sector. A former adviser to Prime Minister Raymond Barre, he became chairman of the Société Française de Production (SFP) in January 1979. Two years later, he was appointed President of the media group Éditions Mondiales. He extended the group’s activities into the film and television sectors with the creation of Revcom in 1984 and the acquisition of Les Films Ariane in 1986. In January 1992, he co-founded his own production company, MACT Productions. MACT Productions has produced films including Cabaret Balkan and Someone Else’s America by Goran Paskaljevic, and Lemon Tree by Eran Riklis.
Kiss kiss bang bang No, it wasn’t Jean-Luc Godard who first suggested that all you need to make a movie is a girl and a gun. Silent film maestro DW Griffith came up with the same formulation many years before A Bout De Souffle. In his new film, FILM IST. a girl & a gun, Austrian director Gustav Deutsch explores the thesis. Geoffrey Macnab reports
photo: Bram Belloni
VPRO Tiger Awards Competition
When Pigs Fly
IFFR regular Edwin talks to Wendy Mitchell about his Tiger debut and love of Stevie Wonder Prolific shorts director Edwin wanted to make his debut feature about something very close to his heart: identity issues as a Chinese Indonesian. “This has been my problem since I was a kid. This film is about my questions about being a Chinese Indonesian. I really wanted to have answers to why I couldn’t identify with my Chinese-ness,” he says of his Tiger competition film, Blind Pig Who Wants To Fly. The 29-year-old writer/director may not have all the answers now, but he says: “I learned a lot. At least now I can say I have to deal with these feelings.” The issues aren’t addressed in a straightforward, linear manner, but rather through sketches of the lives of nine people in Jakarta. There’s a dentist, a billiards player, a former badminton champion, an aspiring pop star and the central character, Linda, who is obsessed with firecrackers. There are also scenes of the titular pig. “This film is about hope – the idea of this ‘blind pig who wants to fly’ is about hopes that will never be fulfilled,” he explains. Another metaphor comes in the frequent, increasingly disturbing use of Stevie Wonder’s song I Just Called to Say I Love You. “I wanted to disturb the audience with this song by using it again and again,” Edwin says. “It’s also about hopes. The character of the dentist loves Stevie Wonder because he is black and blind, but he’s not discriminated against.” “The script was written like fragments, descriptions of more than 30 sequences,” he says, adding that the sequences changed while filming. “It was like a puzzle.” His cast and crew also influenced the stories. “My producer and actors are also Chi-
nese Indonesian, and they share the same emotions,” he adds. Edwin had the idea in 2005 and shot intermittently in 2006 and 2007, whenever he had enough funding to shoot. One key supporter of the project was Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund, which gave backing for both script development and postproduction. “It was a motivator for us to make this film happen,” Edwin says. “We have the energy, but it was hard to find investors. It helped us to get other people on board.” Edwin is making his third trip to Rotterdam with the film – IFFR previously screened short Trip to the Wound and also commissioned Hulahoop Soundings. He praises Rotterdam for providing a platform for new filmmakers to meet colleagues – and hopes to pick up an international sales agent for Blind Pig at this year’s festival. His next idea is a surprise given the fragmentary structure of Blind Pig. He reveals: “I want to challenge myself to make a more linear narrative. It will be a drama about a father-son relationship in a small mafia society.”
a girl & a gun is the latest addition to Deutsch’s epic, ongoing FILM IST project, which has involved him delving into archives, recovering and recontextualising images from old films. The difference from his earlier work is that the new film is scripted. Deutsch’s new preoccupation is “the confrontation of the sexes as one of the main subjects (of cinema) from the beginning. It includes erotic film, pornographic film and also violence.” Deutsch has structured the film as “a Greek drama in five acts.” He researched assiduously before beginning the film, visiting a few main archives – the Netherlands Film Museum, The Imperial War Museum in London and the Kinsey Institute in the US among them – just to see what might be available. The Austrian is one of the first filmmakers to have been allowed to use material from the Kinsey archives. “They have the biggest stag film collection, especially from early times. This is all material that has never been screened in public. It was made for private clubs, brothels or whatever. This was the private collection of Alfred Kinsey and he got it from different sources – it was given to him, he bought it in flea markets, whatever he could get it. It is an amazing collection.”
Much of the material – all taken from the period between the early silent era and the 1930s – is in very poor condition. Regarded as pornography, it has been left to fester on the shelves. “Nearly every archive I know has some porn films, but they don’t really take care of them,” Deutsch laments. As treated by Deutsch, the material is often startlingly beautiful. Images have been scanned digitally in high resolution and coloured in accordance with codes he devised. The Austrian director doubts that he will finish FILM IST. “It’s a project that will never be complete,” he sighs. The first FILM IST (2002) looked at how film was developed by scientists as a tool. The second FILM IST (also 2002) concentrated on film as used in the fairground. Now, Deutsch is tackling the confrontation of the sexes. Deutsch finds Rotterdam an ideal showcase for his work. “It’s a big festival that still keeps a focus on work that is not mainstream. My films don’t pay at the cinema cash till. They are not commercial. These are films on film and about film: they are self-reflexive. Rotterdam gives me the chance to show this ongoing project.” FILM IST. a girl & a gun Gustav Deutsch Pathé 3 Sat 24 Jan 13:30 Venster 3 Sun 25 Jan 09:30 * Cinerama 1 Mon 26 Jan 17:00 Cinerama 5 Sat 31 Jan 09:30 * Press and Industry screening
Blind Pig Who Wants To Fly Edwin Pathé 5 * Sat 24 Jan 19:15 Pathé 5 Sun 25 Jan 10:30 Pathé 4 Mon 26 Jan 10:15 Cinerama 3 Tue 27 Jan 11:45 * Pathé 1 Sat 31 Jan 13:00 Gustav Deutsch
* Press and Industry screening
photo: Ruud Jonkers
VPRO Tiger Awards Competition
Juliette Garcias tells Wendy Mitchell why images count more than words in her debut Sois Sage
photo: Bram Belloni
There isn’t a lot of dialogue in Juliette Garcias’ debut feature, Sois Sage (Be Good). The lines that are spoken do pack a huge emotional punch, and the film’s mood between discussions is sustained by a series of stunning images: bloody fingernails scraping a girl’s thigh, dead foxes on a lawn, a slithery bucket of snails, a kiss on a foggy mirror. Garcias says that telling a story visually was especially crucial, given the complex subject of incest. “With this subject, it’s nearly impossible to talk about it in words, so visual images were a way to talk about the disgust and also the sexual desire,” she says. Garcias points out that the subject is thankfully not autobiographical for her, just an important topic that should be treated with a new sensitivity on screen. “You see the subject of incest more in literature. When it is in film, it can be done in a trashy way. It seemed a pity not to tackle it from another perspective, not in a violent way.” Sois Sage showcases a mesmerizing performance from lead actress Anaïs Demoustier, who plays a mysterious young woman who takes a job at a bakery in the French countryside and lies to everyone around her, until her troubled past is revealed. Demoustier was only 19 during the shoot, but the writer/director says: “I though she had sensitivity and depth and was suited to the part.”
38TH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com
One especially brave scene comes with a confrontation at the end of the film. Remarkably, Garcias shot it in just one take – even though the team had set aside a whole day. “It was the one scene everyone was worried about during the whole production. But on the day, we shot it for eight minutes and there was so much electricity in the air that we just did the one take.” Garcias previously directed the 1998 short Under the Tables, but also has an editing background on projects including Jet Lag and Taking Sides. She says her editing experience was “very useful” while shooting, but perhaps harder when trying to edit her own work – “I needed help from three other editors,” she says with a laugh. Sois Sage Juliette Garcias Pathé 5 * Sat 24 Jan 21:45 Pathé 5 * Sun 25 Jan 13:15 Cinerama 3 Mon 26 Jan 16:15 * Pathé 1 Tue 27 Jan 13:00 Pathé 5 Sat 31 Jan 21 * Press and Industry screening
BUFFALO SOLDIER Armenian director Harutyun Khachattryan has just completed his latest feature, Border. He also runs a film festival, inspired by IFFR. Geoffrey Macnab talks to the busy filmmaker
The countryside in Armenia. A buffalo is pulled from a ditch and taken to a nearby farmhouse. It is the middle of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conﬂict. The farm is full of refugees. A sense of desperation is palpable. However, Border (a world premiere in IFFR’s Spectrum from Armenian master Harutyun Khachatryan) doesn’t broach the subject of the war directly. The storytelling style is poetic and oblique. There is no dialogue. We see events as if from the buffalo’s point of view. Old men are shown eating. Dogs ﬁght. On the soundtrack, we hear the murmur of cattle braying and the quiet din of a typical day on a busy farmyard. “This is a story about the uselessness of borders and the desire to go back,” the director reﬂects. “Today, there are borders all over the world that neither people nor animals need. The world is developing. There is the growth of democracy… but there are still borders.” The ﬁlm was grueling to shoot. Khachatryan and his crew spent many months ﬁlming in the countryside. “It is always a problem to shoot a ﬁlm with animals. It is also problematic to shoot near borders and to work with people who really live this kind of life. There are no actors in the ﬁlm. Real people played themselves,” Khachatryan says. So how did he cast the long-suffering buffalo? “We just looked and found the buffalo that had the cleverest expression on his face and the most meaning in his eyes.” Khachatryan, who won the 2007 Prince Claus award, isn’t just a ﬁlmmaker. He also cofounded the Yerevan International Film Festival, Golden Apricot. With so many plates
to juggle, it took him three years to complete Border. “But if I don’t make a ﬁlm every three years, I don’t have the right to do a festival.” Border was made with support from Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund. It is the fourth ﬁlm by Khachatryan to screen in Rotterdam. The director clearly feels a strong affection for the Festival. “It’s a festival where art is appreciated. The big illness of getting prizes and competing does not exist. Rotterdam is also a sister festival to Golden Apricot. Our festival learned a lot from Rotterdam.” What now? Khachatryan is working on Endless Return, a long-gestating project about the fate of Armenian exiles in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union. “That is a question that has always been interesting to me – the links between an individual and his motherland. Is the person (in exile) free or is he sometimes still linked to his birthplace?” BORDER Harutyun Khachatryan Venster 3 Fri 23 Jan 09:30 * Cinerama 1 Sat 24 Jan 19:30 Pathé 3 Sun 25 Jan 16:15 Doelen Jurriaanse Zaal Mon 26 Jan 16:15 * Cinerama 5 Tue 27 Jan 14:30 * Press and Industry screenings
COLD SKIN “I don’t plan up front. I start somewhere, then see where it takes me. It’s a gut instinct,” 36-year-old director Esther Rots tells Edward Lawrenson of the development of Can Go Through Skin (Kan door huid heen), which receives its world premiere at IFFR. An intense and atmospheric drama that sees the thirty-something Marieke move to a dilapidated remote farm house in the south of Holland after she’s attacked in her Amsterdam ﬂat, the ﬁlm is the feature debut of Rots, an accomplished shorts director. “I never started out with writing about an assaulted woman,” Rots says of the ﬁlm, which begins with Marieke struggling to cope with the end of a longterm relationship. “My original inspiration was the question: how would you cope when a relationship ends because the other half doesn’t want it any more?” The sense of surprise and discovery that Rots brings to writing her screenplay also applies to her shooting approach. “The script was huge,” says Rots. “We had a lot of scenes, so we could decide what worked and what didn’t during the shoot. It was important we had time for this: I shot for about 65 days and with a small crew, so that helped.”
Rots had the good fortune to secure ﬁnancing quickly. “I found the location, the people I wanted to work with, and we had three months before winter, when I wanted to shoot.” With assistance from the Rotterdam Film Fund, which contributed to a budget of just above a million Euros, the ﬁnancing came together, says Rots, “like magic”. Shooting for so long in an unheated farm house during winter can’t have been comfortable. “It was tough,” Rots agrees, “There was mould on the camera at one point and the electrical equipment got damp. But it all helped: the circumstances we ﬁ lmed in were the circumstances in the ﬁ lm: everyone was in the right state of mind to make good decisions.” Films Boutique plan further festival exposure – the ﬁ lm is selected for the Forum in Berlin – to secure a distribution deal. CAN GO THROUGH SKIN / KAN DOOR HUID HEEN Esther Rots Luxor Sat 24 Jan 19:30
Faculteit Faculteitder derGeesteswetenschappen Natuurwetenschappen, Wiskunde en Informatica Professional MA Programme
Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image Moving images are part of our most precious, but also most fleeting and fragile cultural heritage. They capture time and place, memory and history, as well as carrying a myriad of other data. How can this audiovisual material be preserved for future generations and how can it be presented today?
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