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photo: Bram Belloni

Toast of the town: “Doing instead of talking is the Rotterdam approach,” explained Rik Grashof, Rotterdam’s Alderman of Culture (second left) to guests at Monday evening’s IFFR Buyers and Sellers Dinner. An avowed cinema fan, Grashof pointed out he would have to skip dessert so as not to miss the screening of Kora-Eda Hirokazu’s Still Walking. Hosted by the City of Rotterdam and IFFR, the function was attended by 140 guests including leading Dutch and international producers, financiers and distributors. NC

THE CAR’S THE STAR Czech veteran Jan Nemec recalls the Prague Spring for his autobiographical film The Ferrari Dino Girl. By Wendy Mitchell Czech legend Jan Nemec chose Rotterdam for the world premiere of his new fi lm The Ferrari Dino Girl, because, he says “Rotterdam is for discovering new talent in world fi lm, ha ha!” That is of course a joke, for Nemec is a long-established talent and a key figure from the Czech New Wave, with features such as Diamonds of the Night and A Report on the Party and the Guests. The 72-year-old director, in a phone conversation from Prague, praised Holland for being supportive of him when he was just starting out. “My international career started in the early 1960s when I was in Amsterdam for a student fi lm festival, and that was my fi rst international award (for his graduation fi lm from Prague’s FAMU fi lm school, A Loaf of Bread). That was the time of deep Communism, so I got a lot of respect after this prestigious prize. I had my fi rst fi lm in Amsterdam and so my last could be in Rotterdam”, he says, but adding “I hope this is not my last fi lm.” FESTIVAL HIGHLIGHT The director himself is sorry not to be attending IFFR. But he had two heart surgeries last year and couldn’t risk traveling because of the flu spreading through Europe. Even without the director present, the world premiere tonight will be one of the highlights of IFFR 2009; a project impressive for

Jan Nemec (second left) in The Ferrari Dino Girl

its moving personal remembrances, experimentations with form and historical importance. The Ferrari Dino Girl links a series of autobiographical stories: starting in 1968, Nemec shot incendiary footage of the Soviet invasion of Prague, and wanted to get this shown internationally – taking the fi lm canisters to cross the border to Vienna with an Italian man and a Bardot-esque Czech woman, Jana.

The idiosyncratic project is both a historical document containing his famous footage of 1968, and an artistic contemporary revisiting of the past through newly shot images. (Karel Roden plays the director, mostly heard through voiceover narration.) RESTORED FOOTAGE Nemec was inspired to make The Ferrari Dino Girl when he was able to acquire his original

footage from 1968 from Austrian television. “The original footage I shot in 1968 has been shown hundreds of times, but I never got the credit or money from this material,” Nemec says. “It was also used for propaganda purposes and for a lot of commercial companies. Once I got it, I just wanted to pick up the negative and make it into something, just this little story.” The project builds on his other recent autobiographical projects Late Night Talks With Mother (2001) and Landscape of My Heart (2004). The original footage was in better-than-expected condition – “It was very complicated to fi nd it, but once I did, I was quite happy that it wasn’t destroyed or edited.” The footage, used in his lauded 1968 short documentary Oratorio For Prague, has been restored thanks to funding from the Czech government and now makes up a central part of The Ferrari Dino Girl. For the fi lm’s new material, Nemec returned to the actual locations from decades ago. “It’s like a criminal returning to the scene of the crime. Everything is authentic. History was me going back to ask the same questions,” says the director, who lived in exile in Germany and the US before returning to Prague in 1989. (continues on page 7)


Painting into the corners and windows of the gallery space. “I want to be able to do painting, but I’m very suspicious of what seems to go without saying in painting, and I think this parallels my interests in film. I’m interested in subjecting to interrogation the assumptions that seem to govern the medium – in the one case film, in the other, painting. With painting, the assumption is that it’s rectangular and that you can put it wherever you want. A lot of these paintings derive from the architecture of the gallery.”

reality BITES Sheffield Doc/Fest programmer Hussain Currimbhoy on why IFFR is an exciting place for documentaries

When I’m viewing for Sheffield Doc/Fest’s 2009 programme, the desire and responsibility to represent as much of the documentary filmmaking world as possible is an imperative; as is a comprehensive sample of the disparate cultures that produce it. IFFR is renown for its voracious appetite for the innovative and the genre-bending in cinema, and their doc feast upholds this tradition in good stead; yet the attention to documentaries that borrow leaves from the books of fiction film, installation works and artistic investigations is what makes this programme especially pertinent to documentary programmers like me . Uruphong Raksasad’s Agrarian Utopia is a pearl, as is the majestic two-and-a-half-hour Rerberg and Tarkovsky. The Reverse Side of ‘Stalker’ by Igor Mayboroda as well as Sunrise/Sunset by fellow Russian veteran Vitaly Mansky are personal favourites of the festival so far, and not just for their deft handling of subject and narrative allure. They represent the programme’s recognition of the insights documentarians can garner from filmmakers past and present. Some of these lessons carry over into 2009’s documentaries as the tectonic shifts of digital and on-line filmmaking start to be felt. Doc/Fest’s investment in fostering crossplatform documentary works that engage all forms of media, including web-based, digital and gaming mediums, emphasise common ground between IFFR and Doc/ Fest programmes in exhibiting the best works by young, progressive filmmakers. Like IFFR’s CineMart, Sheffield Doc/Fest’s now booming MeetMarket attracts commissioning editors, producers and decisionmakers from the world over, sparking new collaborations with filmmakers to pitch ideas and take nascent doc projects that much closer to production. The MeetMarket is seeing a steady rise in cross-platform documentary projects pitched. A charge led by people like Holland’s Submarine crossproduction studio. Similarly, wholly self-funded or very-lowbudget films, which have become a mainstay at IFFR, continue to have a formidable presence. By and large, Doc/Fest’s 100-strong film  programme is largely auteur work. Broadcast-driven docs are of exceptional quality in the UK, but conscious efforts to showcase the independent essence of the industry offer a counterpoint to the prevalent working practice and highlights works that are, as some might say, ‘freer’. 

Hussain Currimbhoy

photo: Ruud Jonkers

Aspect Ratio

Artist and filmmaker Morgan Fisher speaks to Stephanie Harmon about his return to Rotterdam

Avant-garde artist Morgan Fisher is no stranger to IFFR. In 2005, his work was shown in the festival’s Cinema Regained programme. At this year’s festival, however, there’s even more of Fisher’s art to explore. Besides his films being screened in the Signals: Size Matters programme, his 2004 piece Aspect Ratio is included in the exhibition of the same name in TENT; this work consists of a series of mirrors in proportions consistent with film formats such as Techniscope and Panavision. The artist returned to IFFR for the opening of Aspect Ratio, before traveling on to Frankfurt, where his latest show, Portikus Looks at Itself, opens this Friday.

Asked about what he’s been working on, Fisher doesn’t mention filmmaking: “I’ve been doing painting lately. It’s very important for me to think of myself as a painter. Specifically: I mean, painting as a specific practice. Although I have done these mirror pieces, which isn’t painting, but is kind of related to painting. When I first showed that work, I talked about how it was related to painting, photography and film. It lies in a kind of intersection between these.” Fisher, who graduated from Harvard in 1964 with a degree in art history, draws inspiration from the painting of Blinky Palermo, Gerhard Richter, and Ellsworth Kelly. Like these minimalists, Fisher’s work is a critical investigation of painting itself. His Edge and Corner Paintings show (2005), consisted of gray monochrome canvases, the sizes of which were determined by the sizes of the doors

Anti-compositional “This is true in my films, too. The films, I would like to say, are anti-compositional.” To elaborate on this point, Fisher brings up a comment made during the Q&A after a screening of his shorts earlier this week: “I was talking about this idea of a diagram, or the model. Someone in the audience said it reminded them of something that occurs in music – the score. I liked this idea of a score, that implies that different people could realize the work … as long as it adheres to a certain model, it can look different, but it’s still the same film. It can be different in its particulars, but if it’s the same in its underlying scheme, then it’s the same film.” Asked about how these “schemes” come into existence, Fisher answers immediately: “Well … they just tend to come. But here’s the thing: the last film I made was in 2003, and the last one before that was 1984, and then there were a bunch in the early seventies and the sixties. … I don’t want to do work until I feel confident that it’s a good idea; and if the idea comes, that’s great, and if it doesn’t, well, then I don’t make a film. But the ideas tend to come whole, in their entirety, and they come pretty much as a diagram. … Sometimes they need to be developed ever so slightly. But it’s not as if I’ve decided to stop making films, it’s just I’m waiting for the idea. Well, I’m also looking, it’s not as if I’m only waiting for a new good idea…and I’m sure that one will come.”

The Short Circuit Wendy Mitchell samples the diminutive riches of IFFR’s selection of shorts IFFR Director Rutger Wolfson was delayed at a feature screening in Pathé on Monday night, but still made a point of rushing over to the Lantaren to congratulate the winners of the short Tiger awards. “It was five years ago that we started the Tiger Awards for Short Film,” he noted. “We wanted to make [the shorts programme] stronger and more important over the last couple of years, and I think we have succeeded.” Wolfson’s insistence on meeting the short winners is just one small sign that Rotterdam takes its shorts seriously. Across IFFR there are 366 short films (up to 30 minutes) and 39 short features (30-60 minutes). With the programme restructuring and simplification, the shorts are no longer in a separate section, but are programmed across the three main sections: Bright Future, Spectrum and Signals. And Tiger Awards for Short Film winners can be proud to no longer be labeled “cubs.” “At a lot of big film festivals, the shorts feel so separate. But Rotterdam really supports shorts,” says Maria Pallier, from Spanish broadcaster TVE, who served as one of the jurors for the short-film Tigers. Pallier noted that she had been attending IFFR since 1996, usually buying ten to fifteen shorts each year, and plans to do the same this year. Pallier praises not just the quantity, but also the di-


versity of shorts in the festival programmes – “there is such a variety, from short fiction to filmmakers experimenting with new forms. They do take the risk to show new formats. There’s absolute freedom in style and length.” Indeed, some other festivals insist shorts be under 20 minutes or even under 10 minutes – a trend furthered by some online platforms and mobile phone companies looking for short content. Yet here, length isn’t a pressing issue – the three Tiger Awards for Short Film winners Bernadette, Despair and A Necessary Music had running times of 38, 30 and 20 minutes respectively. “Years ago it seemed that most festivals didn’t want to screen films that were 25 minutes to one hour,” explains programmer Peter van Hoof, who has overseen shorts programming at IFFR for the past four years. “Rotterdam does screen those kinds of films, and it helps the filmmakers know they can show their work no matter what length. People should take as long or as short as they need to tell their story.” Kimi Takesue, a New York-based filmmaker who has traveled widely with several shorts over the years (including this year’s Suspended), says that Rotterdam has a different mentality with shorts. “At Sundance, people tend to see shorts as a stepping stone to features,” she says. “It’s so focused on accessible, com-

A Necessary Music


mercial cinema. There’s a real respect for shorts as an art form here.” Gertjan Zuilhof helps programme shorts in his role scouting for rising Asian filmmakers. “To get feature films for the Tiger competition in future years, I have to know short filmmakers,” Zuilhof says. “I don’t want to make a distinction between long and short film, I just want to follow filmmakers that I like. If Lav Diaz makes a six-hour film, I want to see it. And if he makes a short I also want to see it.” Shorts are treated as art but without ignoring industry. “We also encourage contact with short film professionals,” notes Van Hoof. For instance, in 2009 the festival welcomed 25 experimental short film distributors and also hosted a panel on online video platforms. Other innovations this year were the creation of a year-round international online platform, New Arrivals, a collaboration between IFFR and Dutch broadcaster NPS; also there were six shorts commissioned to screen on mobile phones as part of NPS Micromovies. For audiences who missed the shorts programmes earlier in the festival, Lantaren 1 will host the Short Film Marathon, consisting of 61 films, from 10 am Saturday until 1 am Sunday. Van Hoof says proudly: “It’s always sold out.”



new irish wave RIDES ROCKY ROAD Despite a year of successes, the Irish Film Board is entering uncertain times. Attending CineMart, the Board’s head Simon Perry talks to Geoffrey Macnab

These are topsy-turvy times for the Irish Film Board, Ireland’s national film agency. On the face of it, Irish filmmaking is booming. However, the financial crisis is beginning to affect funding. In 2008, 25 feature films (not including documentaries) started production in Ireland. “It was definitely, in terms of volume, a record year,” suggests Simon Perry, Chief Executive of the Irish Film Board. There was much to celebrate. Lance Daly’s Kisses (sold internationally by Focus) has blazed a trail across festivals from Galway to Locarno and Toronto. The Irish have been active on the co-production front, too. Oscar-winning Bosnian director Danis Tanovic’s Triage was lured to Ireland. Colin Farrell headlines the cast, playing a traumatised photojournalist recently returned from a grueling assignment abroad. Neil Jordan has just made a new Irish film in West Cork, the €7.6m Ondine. Both Ondine and Triage may be ready for Cannes. New talent continues to appear. Perry cites filmmakers like Ken Wardop, now making his first feature (100-1 Outsiders) and Steph Green (whose short New Boy has just been nominated for an Oscar) as leading representatives of a New Irish Wave. Meanwhile, thee new ultra low-budget films have been commissioned through the Film Board’s ‘Catalyst’ training and production programme. The first of these, Eamon, written and directed by Margaret Corkery, is in post-production and will premiere at the Dublin Film Festival. Two others, One Hundred Mornings by Conor Horgan and Redux by PJ Dillon, are also close to completion. “We at the Irish Film Board really want to encourage strong, specifically Irish voices, clear signatures, evident authorship,” Perry comments. However, the Irish Film Board boss acknowledges that Irish filmmaking is being affected by the economic crisis. 2008 may have been a banner year for Irish cinema, but cuts are now inevitable. The Irish Government is on a money-saving spree.

Peak viewing Mid-fest stats (to Monday evening) from the IFFR video library indicate that the most popular film so far among attendees is Simon Ellis’ Dogging: A Love Story, followed by Edwin’s Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly and The Hungry Ghosts (Michael Imperioli), all of which compete in VPRO Tiger Awards Competition. The number of views per day registered on the digital system, which streams IFFR titles, peaked at 1,145 on Monday evening – this figure does not include viewings on DVD. Video Library Top 10 1 Dogging: a Love Story 2 Blind Pig Who Wants to Fly 3 The Hungry Ghosts 4 Sois sage 5 #37 6 Myth Labs 7 Bernadette 8 Block B 9 Six Apartments 10 Coagulate

Dogging: a Love Story

Spending on public services is being reduced dramatically. In some ways, the Irish Film Board is well-positioned. It is relatively small and its recent successes are easy to demonstrate. Even so, the Board faces a 13.5% decrease in its budget (from €20 million to €17.3 million). It is conceivable that further cuts may also be necessary. In the shortterm, the area bound to be affected most is coproductions. “It has been so odd to have this very optimistic and prolific year, and then suddenly the brakes are being slammed on,” Perry reflects. He hopes that Irish production will continue as before, but acknowledges co-production may suffer in the short-term. “I wouldn’t rule out being able to do one or two minority coproductions, but a real programme of minority co-production based on reciprocity will have to be reconsidered, and maybe put on hold.” Even if this does happen, Perry will try to ensure that the Board does not become too inward-looking. He has been attending the CineMart in what he calls “a spirit of optimism.” He has been casting his eye over various projects in Rotterdam. “We’re always looking for films that can be partly made in Ireland, or with Irish technical or creative contributions,” he notes. The Film Board, he adds, is not looking “to change the project or contaminate it with artificial Irishness. Quite the reverse – we are absolutely about invisible co-production.” Ireland remains an active and enthusiastic member of Eurimages (the Council of Europe fund for the co-production, distribution and exhibition of European cinematographic works). In recent months, some of the 33 Eurimages members have questioned whether being part of the Fund is to their benefit. Perry has no such qualms. “Membership is absolutely essential for a country like Ireland. We benefit very much from being the only Englishspeaking country that is a member.” With tax incentive Section 481 paying out on the first day of principal photography, Ireland – Perry contends – remains an attractive location for international filmmakers. This, combined with Ireland’s membership of Eurimages, ought to keep the Irish active as co-production partners whatever the fluctuations in the national economy.

Simon Perry

photo: Ramon Mangold

South Africa: financing phase two DV8, the South African outfit that finances, produces and distributes South African film, is aiming to capitalize on the football fever already descending on the country in advance of the 2010 World Cup. By Geoffrey Macnab

Here in Rotterdam, DV8’s Jeremy Nathan has revealed details of The African Game, a hugely ambitious multi-media project that will encompass a book, an exhibition, an 8-part TV series, mobile and internet content and a feature documentary – all on the subject of African football fans. “We will be following the fans and the mascots in Cameroon, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Angola and South Africa as they prepare for 2010,” Nathan explains. DV8 is partnering with MTN (Mobile Telephone Networks South Africa) on The African Game. “We will start the distribution of certain elements of the content in December this year, with an exhibition which will be both a physical exhibition and an internet exhibition. Any small (football) club in the world can download stills and media. We’re going to look to galleries, museums, libraries and football clubs to host exhibitions.” The aim is to celebrate Africa “through the lens of football.” Nathan promises that the project will look at the politics of Africa through football. He predicts that South African filmmakers will benefit from the huge upsurge in internet and satellite infrastructure being promised by the Government in time for next year’s World Cup. “The spin-off is that filmmakers will be able to use that,” Nathan said. He forecasts that, using the net, both local and international filmmakers will be able to distribute their films nationwide. No longer will

film distribution be confined to the major cities – movies should now be able to travel all over the country. Alongside its digital initiatives, DV8 remains active as a feature producer. The company recently completed Madoda Ncayiyana’s My Secret Sky, which premiered at the Dubai Film Festival just before Christmas. The film, which follows two children as they travel from their rural village to the city after their mother’s death, will be released theatrically in South Africa in the summer through SterKineor. DV8 is handling sales on the project itself. The company is also readying Shirley Adams, the first feature by new director Oliver Hermanus, a 25-year-old who recently graduated from the London Film School. This is a Dardennes-style drama about a coloured woman from a township whose son is left paralysed by gang warfare. The mother battles to keep her son alive against heavy odds. DV8’s third new project is State of Violence by Khalo Matabane. This is now fully financed and due to shoot in the spring. Here in Rotterdam, Nathan was striking an upbeat note about the prospects for African cinema, in spite of the lack of African projects in CineMart this year. Some have asked why South African filmmakers, in particular, have not been able to capitalize on the Oscar-winning success of Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi (2005). However, Nathan argues that expectations were often unrealistic. “Tsotsi did something incredible. It managed to awaken people’s attention globally to the fact that we have an industry; that we have talented directors as well as actors. We weren’t able to capitalize on that as a nation. We didn’t come through with a whole lot of good films after Tsotsi. It (filmmaking) is still sporadic, but

I see that changing,” Nathan reflected. “I feel very strongly that we are entering a Phase 2 of South African cinema. Phase 1 started with Mapantsula in 1988 and ended with Tsotsi in 2006. Phase 2 is about younger, newer, more educated filmmakers. You’re able to finance them now.”

IDTV joins Snakehead Natacha Devillers of Paris production house Les Petites Lumières announced yesterday that IDTV (the Netherlands) is joining CineMart project The Snakehead as co-producer. This agreement marks the fourth collaboration between the two companies, following Shanghai Trance (David Verbeek, 2008), R U There? (David Verbeek, currently shooting) and The Chinese Black and White Photo (Haolun Shu), for which IDTV raised Hubert Bals Fund Plus finances. “I’m thrilled that IDTV is coming on board,” Devillers said yesterday. “I’m very happy to be able to pursue a collaboration that will give great impetus to the project.” IDTV’s Frans van Gestel commented: “It’s a strong project, an important story – both culturally as well as commercially – a strong director and an important theme.” The project, described by Devillers as the criminal odyssey of Chinatown’s Sister Ping, will be directed by Guka Omarova whose Native Dancer (2008) was selected for Toronto and Pusan. NC



VPRO Tiger Awards Competition

(continued from page 1) In Nemec’s own narration to the film, he jokes that he might make another “major film,” about the Kremlin or Chelsea Football Club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich, but in reality he’s working on a screenplay about a “Czech James Bond,” which is also likely to star Karel Roden. Nemec also says in The Ferrari Dino Girl that he’s now “happy making my obscure artistic films that nobody sees” – but of course he is happy to have an audience at a festival like IFFR. “Rotterdam is interested in art-oriented film, exploring new film languages, so that’s why I thought this festival was a better fit than Cannes or Berlin. I am honored they wanted to show the film,” he says. “I am still happy to be making movies.”

And if the title The Ferrari Dino Girl sounds confounding for a film about the Prague Spring, the meaning is revealed in the film, when the lovely Jana is compared to the limited-edition make of car that all the boys wanted in that era, the Ferrari Dino. Nemec laments that he never had a Ferrari, just “the poor man’s version, the Fiat.” And now that he’s got grandchildren, he laughs, “I’ve only got a very small Toyota.”

Train of Thought

The Ferrari Dino Girl Jan Nemec

The VPRO Tiger Awards Competition might have been less interesting this year if Austrian writer/ director Caspar Pfaundler had gone to film school – his second feature Schottentor breaks a lot of the established rules. “At film school, they’d tell you, ‘never do this inner monologue, it’s too soft.’ And they’d say, ‘never make a film about filmmaking.’ Yet I didn’t break the rules just to break them, I just didn’t care. I still knew I had to be careful,” Pfaundler says. The director, who is again based in Vienna after living briefly in Taiwan, wanted to explore the idea that people’s public interactions don’t always reflect their private thoughts. The film explores the daydreams and inner monologues of several characters – including a lonely teacher, a flower seller, and a film director – passing through Vienna’s train and tram station, Schottenpassage. “I needed one main location. I knew the area around this train station because it was near the university I used to attend,” he explains. “Also, it is an area with an interesting construction, different levels and unique lighting.” Two other sources of inspiration were Sigmund Freud, who used to live in the area of the station, and Austrian writer Arthur Schnitzler’s play La Ronde, which links one character to another. Schottentor is a remarkable technical achievement, considering its modest budget – just €220,000 and shooting time of just 16 days (plus two-and-a-half days of shooting in 2006 for a short version of the project). Pfaundler didn’t attempt to close off the station for the shoot, choosing instead to capture its everyday rhythms. This meant no added lighting or boom mikes for the crew. “I told everyone that we didn’t want to be

Pathé 6 Wed 28 Jan 19:30 Cinerama 7 Fri 30 Jan 12:15 Venster 2 Sat 31 Jan 20:15

VPRO Tiger Awards Competition

Harbouring ambitions Japanese writer/director Naito Takatsugu went fishing close to home for the story for his debut feature. By Wendy Mitchell

His Tiger competitor The Dark Harbour is about a lonely fisherman in a small port town, who finds an unexpected relationship with a woman and her child. “I grew up in a place that was within one minute walking distance of a harbour,” Naito remembers. “It was such a small, small port town to the degree of just having one fish market. My parents’ plan for raising me didn’t include giving me a computer or comic books, so my days of playing consisted of fishing on the breakwaters of the harbour. So small harbours have a meditative effect on me; that’s why I decided to set this film in a small port town.” Naito’s previous 50-minute project Midnight Pigskin Wolf won a prize at Tokyo’s Pia Film Festival. The Dark Harbour already had its world premiere at that festival, after the festival funded the film through its long-running Pia Scholarship programme. The Dark Harbour shows the loneliness of the setting, but also celebrates its grumpy but charming smalltown characters, who are shown in humorous situations – such as fishermen trying to dress like Johnny

Depp for a matchmaking session with city women. Of his main character, Manzo, the director says: “I really didn’t ‘make’ him. From my own perspective, he’s just ordinary. Maybe he is just like myself. I wasn’t thinking and writing a long time to reveal this character, it was just inevitable decisions about what the character does and doesn’t do.” There are some touching emotions behind the comedic situations and the man’s genuine search for companionship and love. “I think the audience should decide on the genre of this film, more than me as the author. But I agree that it’s not 100% a comedy,” Naito says. The director arrives in Rotterdam today ahead of the international premiere in the VPRO Tiger Awards Competition, and he has modest hopes for the trip, saying he will be happy if “even one person watches this movie and enjoys it.” The Dark Harbour Naito Takatsugu Pathé 5 Wed 28 Jan 19:15 Pathé 5 Thu 29 Jan 10:30 Cinerama 6 Fri 30 Jan 22:15 Pathé 1 Sat 31 Jan 10:15

Austrian director Caspar Pfaundler tells Wendy Mitchell about blending into the scenery for his Tiger competitor Schottentor

Caspar Pfaundler

photo: Bram Belloni

like a film crew who goes in yelling ‘action!’ and becomes like an army taking over a place. Instead, we have to be part of the scenery; we need to become part of the atmosphere.” His DoP Peter Roehsler was also the producer of the film. It took a leap for his actors and himself to work with the characters’ innermost thoughts. “It was frightening to start listening to my own inner voices. Or inner voices. It’s not very comfortable,” he says. “But I wanted to tell a story of all these people somehow lost in the world, with the hope that they aren’t lost in themselves.” Schottentor Caspar Pfaundler Pathé 5 Wed 28 Jan 21:45 Pathé 5 Thu 29 Jan 13:15 Pathé 5 Fri 30 Jan 19:15 Schouwburg Grote Zaal Sat 31 Jan 11:30

Music of chance The Dark Harbour

I’ll be watching... Head of the Netherlands Film Fund, Toine Berbers: “... will see the movies we supported, of course. And I hope to see a few others, if I am not too tied up in meetings. There are a few very nice foreign movies I’ve been wanting to see for some time. I’ve got a little list. I will try to see La Vie Moderne by Raymond Depardon (Cinerama 4, Sat 31, 12.30). I’d like to see Los Bastardos by Amat Escalante (Pathé 5, Thu 29, 21.45; Cinerama 5, Sat 31, 12.00) and Parque Vía by Enrique Rivero Huerta (Cinerama 1, Tue 27, 12.00). It’s not that I am especially interested in Spanish titles, honest! Also on my list is Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi by Ian Olds (Pathé 2, Thu 29, 16.15).”

Jean-Charles Fitoussi tells Edward Lawrenson why he likes to be surprised by reality “The director is not like God, he’s just someone who is surprised and responds to reality.” Thus Jean-Charles Fitoussi describes his attitude to filmmaking during his attendance at IFFR. It’s an approach that he applied to Je ne suis pas morte (I’m Not Dead), his second feature, which is playing in the Bright Future strand. There was no script, Fitoussi says of the three-part film, just a few ideas, notably a desire to investigate changing states of love through his portrait of Alix, a 27-year-old woman moving between relationships. Marked by a formal elegance and playful, melancholy, digressive tone, the film’s development was guided by Fitoussi’s insistence that he “didn’t want to know what would happen in the film.” He continues: “For the first part, I was writing scenes the night before shooting, then rehearsing the next day. And in the second and the third part, I didn’t write anything; I arrived on location and decided the dialogue together with the cast. “It’s precise but it’s also improvised. I don’t know what I want until I see it. When something fits – it’s like a tune in jazz, and when it comes you know it can’t be any other way.” So his actors must have had a lot of faith in this method. “Yes, it’s all a question of faith,” he says, “but they trusted me.” Most of the performers are non-professional, but his lead, Alix Derouin, does aspire to continue acting. “I met her in a theatre,” says Fitoussi. “I don’t like theatre so much, but I went to see a piece and it was very boring and suddenly I looked at the audience – the audience’s faces were more interesting than the scene on stage. I saw her face in the crowd and I approached her. All of the actors I met by


Je ne suis pas morte

chance like that.” There is a tenuous Dutch connection to the film in the form of a long shot of a poster of a Paul Verhoeven season, playing at the Cinematheque Francais. It was the last programme before the Cinematheque changed venues, and its inclusion in the film was Fitoussi’s tribute to the institution. He’s since seen Verhoeven’s films and is a big fan. “I feel a close connection to him , even though our styles are different.” He’s a particular admirer of Turkish Delight: “I was very surprised that it was such a success with Dutch people. In that film – as with all Verhoeven’s movies – you have a very strong feeling of tragedy, how life is all so transient. I was impressed that tragedy could be popular. In France, there is not any sense of tragedy, the popular films make you forget reality.” Je ne suis pas morte Jean-Charles Fitoussi Cinerama 5 Fri 30 Jan 12


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05.01.2009 13:53:52 Uhr

Binger Filmlab Presents Script Development Programme September 2009 A fully – tailored script development process for Writers & Writer / Directors. A unique 5-month process of intense, full time work, based in Amsterdam,

The company is overseeing the world premiere of Diederik vam Rooijen’s Bollywood Hero and Saturday saw the Dutch premiere of Fien Troch’s Unspoken, the company’s second co-production collaboration with the Flemish director, following Someone Else’s Happiness (2006). Indonesian Jermal, for which IDTV (as minority Dutch co-producer) raised €50,000 from the Hubert Bals Fund Plus (HBF Plus), world premiered on Sunday. “HBF Plus is an extremely successful instrument for us,” IDTV managing director Frans van Gestel comments. “Even though it’s not much money, if you’re very clever and collaborate on films that are not too expensive, then you have a substantial part of the co-production budget.” The initiative, which Van Gestel helped set up with the Dutch Film Fund in his capacity as an IFFR board member, enables Dutch producers to act as minority co-producers on projects that have previously received regular Hubert Bals Fund backing. The company’s first HBF Plus collaboration was My Marlon and Brando (Hüseyin Karabey) which premiered at IFFR 2008 and enjoyed what Van Gestel describes as a “victory tour” through 70 international festivals, picking up several gongs en route, including the Fipresci prize in Jerusalem and the Tribeca Best New Narrative Filmmaker award. Van Gestel has secured HBF Plus funding on two further films, Uruguayan Gigante (Adrián Biniez), a co-production with Argentinean Rizoma Films and Germany’s Pandora, that will compete in the official competition at the Berlinale 2009, and Black and White Photo (Haolun Shu). The film, a co-production between IDTV and Les Petites Lumières (France), is currently being shot in China. At CineMart, Van Gestel is looking to get involved with one, or possibly two, “great projects”, either as a traditional co-producer or using HBF Plus fund-

Frans van Gestel

photo: Bram Belloni

ing. “The possibilities for co-production in the Netherlands are limited, but if we find two interesting projects, not shooting in the same year, we might be interested,” Van Gestel comments. The company will shoot three further films in the coming months, The Odd One Out by Johann Timmers, David Verbeek’s R U There? and Mijke de Jong’s latest offering, Joy. IDTV is also preparing a film about the life of poet Ingrid Jonker, called Smoking Ochre, to star Carice van Houten (Black Book); previous Oscar nominee Paula van der Oest (Zus & zo) is set to direct. The company is looking to raise finance for the film in Rotterdam and during the Berlinale next month. “Politically, the climate for art films is improving in the Netherlands, but the concern is not necessarily about financing films, it’s also about how we can reach the audience,” Van Gestel points out. “The films get smaller – that’s a money problem – but another problem is that the same number of people are going to see fewer films – the bigger, crossover films – which means it is more difficult to find space in cinemas for the more innovative and difficult pictures.”

investigating and shaping an original feature screenplay or adaptation. A diverse array of international advisors & mentors as well as a small community of fellow writers, support the creative journey with lab’s workshops and individual story sessions designed to deeply explore not only the story and narrative, but the intention and meaning of the work to the writer and the intended audience for the film. Binger is fully funded by the Dutch Ministry of Culture, Education and Science. All programmes are delivered in English. International applicants from all countries are welcomed.

Deadline for application: March 15, 2009

For details go to: BFL_IFFR_2009_adv_27+28jan_134x193.indd 1

08-01-2009 14:02:13

CineMart profile

Digging Deep Norwegian producer Christian Fredrik Martin relishes the fresh input he gets from CineMart. By Wendy Mitchell

As Norwegian production company Friland AS prepares its largest production yet, the €3.8m Pioneer, producer Christian Fredrik Martin knew that attending CineMart would be key to getting the film funded. “There’s a limit to what I can bring from Scandinavia, so I’m dependent on getting other partners,” says Martin, who founded Oslo-based Friland in 2002 with partner Asle Vatn. “I had some ideas about how to structure the finance, but there’s been new input from here that gives real possibilities to think about,” he says. The Norway-set thriller is likely to be shot in the first

Christian Fredrik Martin  photo: Ramon Mangold


half of 2010, and financing of close to €600,000 is already in place from the Norwegian Film Institute, Nordic Film & TV Fund, MEDIA, Filmkraft Rogaland and Sandrew Metronome. Martin himself came up with the concept for the film – a conspiracy thriller set in the formative years of Norwegian deep-sea oil drilling, 19791983. “I did a lot of research about this time and I was excited by what I found,” he says. Writers Hans Gunnarsson, K Valen and C Nicolaysen tackled the subject from a strong point of view of the main North Sea diver, Peder. Erik Skjoldbjarg, director of the original 1997 Insomnia and Prozac Nation (2001), is attached to direct. He was drawn to the subject but also the way it is explored through the main character. “Told exclusively from our main character’s point of view, the story stands out as exciting and original within its genre,” he says in a director’s statement. “He represents a pioneering spirit in his quest to conquer physical boundaries under water.” “There’s real interest for the project here, we’ve had some interesting conversations,” Martin says. “We’re also going to Berlin with the Berlin-Rotterdam Express.” Friland has previously produced Kissed By Winter (Vinterkyss), Tommy’s Inferno and Uro (the latter selected for Cannes Un Certain Regard). And Johnsen’s Upperdog is in editing, and could be ready for a Cannes premiere. Martin is a three-time CineMart veteran, most recently in 2008 with Sara Johnsen’s Upperdog. After CineMart meetings, he brought on partners including Hungary’s Riva and the Hamburg Film Fund. “It proves to be a very efficient, transparent market,” he says. “You can meet people so easily.”


Daily Tiger #7 Eng  

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