NEDERLANDSE EDITIE Z.O.Z
38TH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM #9 FRIDAY 30 JANUARY 2009
photo: Bram Belloni
Swing when you’re winning: CineMart delegates celebrate the final night of the market at the closing party in Rotterdam’s Parkzicht restaurant on Wednesday. Byamba Sakhya’s Birdie was announced the winner of the Prince Claus Grant, Lance Weiler’s HIM the winner of the ARTE France Cinéma Award.
Meet the mistress Edward Lawrenson talks to this year’s IFFR ‘maestro’ Claire Denis In Rotterdam for the screening of her new film 35 Rhums, Claire Denis is the subject of IFFR’s Meet the Maestro slot, its regular celebration of outstanding contemporary filmmakers. Reflecting on the warm reception of her film and a well-attended Q&A session in the Pathé on Tuesday evening, Denis bristles at being labeled a maestro. “It’s just a word,” she explains. “Each film is its own thing, if I’m true to myself, so it’s impossible to feel like a maestro: anyway I should be a mistress not a maestro,” she laughs, preferring the feminine version of the title.
photo: Ruud Jonkers
Denis is more comfortable with the tribute paid to her by the short film Dirty Bitch, which the IFFR commissioned from Singapore director Sun Koh. Shown before 35 Rhums, the film was inspired by Sun Koh’s viewing of a badly censored VHS copy of Denis’ Nénette et Boni. “It was so funny,” Denis says. “I didn’t know it was going to happen so it was like the biggest present.” Denis’ latest film revolves around a group of occupants of an apartment block in present-day Paris. The focus is on widower Lionel and his adult daughter Jospehine, played by Denis regular Alex Descas and Mati Diop. Denis provides a warm and intimate portrait of Lionel and Josephine’s life together, subtly suggesting the strains and tensions in their settled domestic routine created by Lionel’s recognition that his daughter will soon have to fly the nest to start her own life. Code of life “It’s about a group of people who have links created by or maintained by love and companionship mostly,” Denis says. “So the film was based on those links. But the film is about separation. It’s the moment to split. It happens between people who have love links, but it’s painful.” With dialogue kept to a minimum and working with her long-time director of photography, Agnes
Godard the film evokes Lionel and Jo’s settled relationship through meticulous observation of their domestic habits – like the making of their meal in the evening, a task they perform with a quiet and accustomed sense of tenderness. Crediting the family dramas of Yasujiro Ozu (an influence acknowledged by the many shots of trains, a regular motif in the Japanese director’s films), Denis says: “I wanted to show that these people live together without spelling it out. The way you put your slippers on means you’re home; you wouldn’t do it in the same way if you were in a neighbour’s house. It was precisely described in the script as a routine and a code of life.” So did Descas and Diop rehearse much to appear so comfortable together? “I don’t rehearse,” says Denis. “A long time ago, I did rehearse with Alex when I worked with him on S’en fout la mort (1991). But I always regretted not being able to capture those moments in rehearsal when everything is so pure.” Black and white Denis’ attentive, probing approach is memorably expressed during a scene in 35 Rhums when Lionel, Jo and their two neighbours take shelter from a heavy night-time downpour in a local café. In a sequence of exquisite and quiet sensuality, Denis focuses on her performers’ faces to suggest their changing attitudes to one another as the Commodores soulful 1985 hit
Nightshift plays on the jukebox. “I didn’t use closeups for the sake of close-up,” she says of the tight focus on her actors’ expressions, “but I chose a tiny location and that was the way I had to film it.” Responding to a remark made at the Q&A the night before about whether the film’s focus on characters from a Caribbean background made 35 Rhums an implicitly political film (although it doesn’t directly address issues of race), Denis says of Lionel and Jo: “They are French actually. They are not foreigners. Of course it’s political that I decide to picture a French family who are black; sad really because it should not be political. The problem with our attitude toward immigration is we are dealing with people who are French and who are black but they are not considered real French.” Denis is currently completing White Material, which stars Isabelle Huppert and is set on a coffee plantation in Cameroon, where the director spent her childhood and shot her debut, Chocolat. So will the film be ready for Cannes? “We have a little question about that because Isabelle is going to president of the jury, so we don’t know yet.” 35 Rhums Claire Denis Cinerama 1 Sat 31 Jan 22:00
TRAINING DAYS Wendy Mitchell talks to the young ﬁlm critics selected for IFFR’s annual training programme
photo: Ruud Jonkers
SILENT SKRIEN Dutch film magazine Skrien published its last issue during the Rotterdam film festival. After 40 years, the magazine lost its subsidy – one third of the budget. Without it, the renowned publication can’t continue. Editor-in-chief André Waardenburg reflects on its passing
Last year should have been a joyful one for Skrien. November 2008 marked our 40th anniversary; a date we intended not to let pass without notice. Regretfully, six months earlier – and much to our surprise – we had been notiﬁed by the Council of Culture that they thought our existence was superﬂuous. We ﬁercely protested against their limited vision of Skrien, but within the current subsidy system in the Netherlands, it is very hard to overrule such a government body. Incidently, famous conductors Ton Koopman and Reinbert de Leeuw, and well known theatre director Theu Boermans, also got the same bad news; proven quality loses out to fashionable initiatives: the money is going to those doing something with ‘ urban culture.’ To cut a long story short: the Ministry of Culture informed us that our subsidy would cease as from 1 January 2009. We tried as hard as we could to ﬁnance our magazine in different ways, but to no avail. Luckily, in the past we had already talked with the Dutch Filmmuseum about a collaboration, along the lines of the British Film Institute/Sight & Sound. We envisioned a fusion between Skrien and the magazine of the Filmmuseum: in this model, the museum would publish a brand new ﬁlm magazine. This collaboration proposal was taken up and promises to be very fruitful. In the autumn of 2009, we will hopefully launch a brand new magazine. One that, like Skrien, will reﬂect on developments in arthouse cinema, write about ﬁlm history and embrace debate on ﬁlm culture. For 40 years, Skrien took part in discussions about ﬁlm and (visual) culture, and frankly it would have been a loss for ﬁlm criticism were this to stop. These are already hard times for our profession: critics are losing their jobs, quality newspapers are only interested in stars and hardly following the kind of ﬁlms a festival like Rotterdam aspires to stimulate and promote. Someone should keep on carrying the torch for slow journalism and looking beneath the surface. Without a magazine like Skrien to protest against these developments, the world will keep on getting smaller.
With ﬁlm critics around the world facing cutbacks in column inches or even job losses (Variety this week shed a number of its writers), IFFR is continuing to do its bit to encourage young critics. For the eleventh year, the festival is hosting its Young Critics Trainee Project, which invites six critics under the age of 30 from around the world to come write, view ﬁlms, network, learn from experts and experience the festival. This year’s trainees and their publications, selected from nearly 60 applicants, are: Philbert Dy (Philippines, ClickTheCity.com); Brandon Harris (US, Filmmaker); Gaetano Maiorino (Italy, Close-up); Camila Moraes (Brazil, LatAm Cinema); Yoana Pavlova (Bulgaria, Endo) and Paula Ruiz (Spain, Go-Mag). In addition to articles for the English and Dutch editions of The Daily Tiger, the trainees also write a blog for the IFFR website and criticism to be published on the FIPRESCI website. And, of course, they will ﬁle reports for their own outlets at home. The programme has become more structured in recent years, now including sessions with veteran critics and meetings with the FIPRESCI Jury (as a collective group – the trainees also get one vote on the jury). Screen International and indieWIRE critic Howard Feinstein had the trainees write a sample review and critiqued each individually. “They really are bright,” Feinstein said of this year’s group. IFFR Head of Media Relations Bert-Jan Zoet says the philosophy behind the programme is similar to the way the Hubert Bals Fund or CineMart supports other entrants into the ﬁlm industry. “It’s very important that young people who have already shown an interest in ﬁlm criticism get a chance to progress,” says Zoet. On the ﬂip side, the festival also beneﬁts. “It helps build word of mouth for the festival, and we’re developing a relationship with
IFFR’s young critics
photo: Daniëlle van Ark
these critics, who will come back in future years,” the IFFR’s trainee programme coordinator Gert-Jan Bleeker says. Past participants include such nowestablished names as Dennis Lim, Gavin Smith, Pia Lundberg, Pedro Butcher and this year’s FIPRESCI, juror Maya McKeachney. The trainees submit an evaluation after the programme so the festival can get feedback and constructive criticism for future editions. But for now, the participants had expectedly glowing reports of their experience in Rotterdam. “This festival is very good for opportunities to meet directors, other critics and industry professionals. It’s a relaxed atmosphere and people are approachable,” Ruiz notes. And for Maiorino, the interaction with the veterans on the FIPRESCI jury has been especially useful. “It’s very mind-opening to have these discussions
with expert critics, to hear the thoughts of someone who has been writing about ﬁlms for 30 years,” he says. Dy, meanwhile, was most inspired by what he’s seeing on screen. “In the Philippines, I have to write about more mainstream ﬁlms, so being here I appreciate the programming,” he says. “I’d never get to see a ﬁlm like Bronson back home, for example.” IFFR’s Bleeker notes that the team aspect of the initiative is important. There used to be only three trainees, but since 2006 there have been six. “You’ve got six people coming from all parts of the world, yet they just seem to click, and they move through the festival together,” Bleeker says. Moraes agreed that working in the group of six had its beneﬁts. “We’re not alone, we can be like a mirror to each other. We all have the same kinds of questions and insecurities,” she says.
HAPPY FEET Stephanie Harmon steps outside the cinema for IFFR’s Walk ‘n’ Talk tour of Rotterdam An electronics shop where walls of televisions screen a festival ﬁlm; a mini-lecture on the neurobiology of perception in a tiny but extremely comfy theatre on the top ﬂoor of a bustling Apple computer store; a lively discussion over coffee with a street artist about public space, art and vandalism – these are among the highlights of the festival’s fabulous Walk’n’Talk events. Mieke van der Linden, the event’s organizer, and Belgian philosopher Ann Meskens, were the expert guides for last Wednesday’s tour. Earlier in the week, two architects were the tour’s hosts; the upcoming Walk ‘n’ Talk (today) will feature historian Han van der Horst. The participants ambled through downtown Rotterdam, chatting and stopping to watch the skyscraper screenings of the Urban Screens ﬁlms. Some group members considered these large “screens” an excellent idea, but found the result somewhat dissatisfying. Many agreed that Reygadas’ ﬁlm was not as effective as it could have been. “But,” Mieke van der Linden continued, “I just love the way that Rutger Wolfson has started the discussion. The ﬁrst time we talked about it, he asked: ‘What are we watching – how are we watching?’” That’s how
the IFFR Walk ‘n’ Talk was born: “That just got into my brain, and I thought, we have to get outside. We have to walk around.” After a while focusing skywards on the large-scale projections on Rotterdam’s big buildings, the group headed underground. On the platforms at metro station Beurs there are fourteen screens from City Media Rotterdam, a ‘mini TV station’ that broadcasts a variety of (local) news and, during the IFFR, ﬁlm-related programming such as trailers, shorts and ﬁlm news. From there, the group rode the metro to Blaak and headed for the Sub Urban Video Lounge, where artist Jeroen Jongeleen philosophized with Ann Meskens over the transgressive nature of his work. The tour ﬁnished off in De Doelen, where IFFR Video Library czar Rob Duyser provided a glimpse of the workings of this festival service. After leaving the inner sanctum of the library, there were drinks in the festival café. Carien Poissonnier, visting from Arnhem, was enthusiastic about the entire experience: “I thought it was fantastic.” Poissonnier, whose business is in “ﬁlm, vision and design” was also extremely positive about the Urban Screens concept: “I’m also very interested in how you can view cinema in another way, not just in a dark
room, not just linearly from A-to-B; but in a way that interacts more with the environment around us. And that’s what this was all about.” The last tour departs from the Schouwburg foyer at 17.00 hours on Friday, lasts about two hours and costs € 6 (includes coffee at the Urban Expresso Bar).
I’LL BE WATCHING… Clare Stewart, the executive director of the Sydney Film Festival, arrives in Rotterdam from Sundance with a strong recommendation for La nana (The Maid), by Chile’s Sebastian Silva. The tragicomedy about a vengeful household maid working for a wealthy family just won the world cinema jury prize and a special jury prize for acting at Sundance. “I ﬁrst saw a longer cut of the La nana as workin-progress at San Sebastian and was really impressed by Sebastian Silva’s adroit direction, and the superb performance by Catalina Saavedra. A long serving (and suffering) household maid becomes vengeful towards the wealthy family for whom she works. Full of subtle humour, the ﬁ lm builds expectations gradually, gathering the momentum of a wicked, bunny-boiling thriller before an unexpected turn sets it on a different path. As an accidental companion ﬁ lm, it is also very worthwhile checking out Parque Via, another award-winning Latin American drama about a longtime family servant.” (See page 7 for interview with Sebastian Silva.) LA NANA / THE MAID Sebastian Silva
Walk on the wild side: the Urban Expresso Bar
38TH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM WWW.FILMFESTIVALROTTERDAM.COM
photo: Daniëlle van Ark
Pathé 4 Sat 31 Jan 15:45
Poles up sticks The Poles are going to London. This week, the full programme was announced for the 7th Kinoteka Film Festiwal, celebrating Polish culture. The festival, running from 12 March to 8 April 2009, will be showcasing a number of Polish titles which have been screening in Rotterdam this week. For example, Kinoteka will be premiering Four Nights with Anna, the new feature from the great Polish non-conformist, Jerzy Skolimowski. Just as in Rotterdam, the screening of the new movie will be accompanied by a retrospective of Skolimowski’s earlier films. Skolimowski will be in town himself to talk about his life and work. Also in London will be director Andrzej Zulawski, a key figure in this New Wave, who will be opening a season of Polish New Wave films at Tate Modern with a newly mastered version of his legendary, existentialist sci-fi epic On the Silver Globe. Kinoteka will be working again with the Quay Brothers, who have produced Kinoteka’s Festiwal trailer and have designed the new poster artwork, with their own homage to the school of modern Polish poster design. As was announced in Rotterdam this week, the Quays are shortly to embark on a new feature in Poland – an adaptation of Bruno Schulz’s Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass. The festival begins with Malgorzata Szumowska’s sophisticated relationship drama, 33 Scenes from Life (which has also been screening in IFFR’s Spectrum). This is a drama about a young woman whose world collapses when her mother becomes sick with cancer. Other highlights include an evening of film and music on 8 April at the Barbican with composer Michael Nyman. The Closing Night Gala concert brings together Nyman with Poland’s cutting-edge accordion group, Motion Trio, as well as his latest work, a personal tribute to Polish cinema in honour of Kinoteka, alongside a montage of classic Polish films. Kinoteka is organised by the Polish Cultural Institute in partnership with Wyborowa Wodka and the support of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. GM
No looking back
Merchandise shop: I love your Tiger chic
WORM vs Tiger
photo: Bram Belloni
By Wendy Mitchell
IFFR’s T-shirts and merchandise are all new this year, branded with the striking new Tiger logo. And sales have been steady, even if not everyone is pouncing on the chance to sport a tiger head on their chest. “There are very different opinions, some people enjoy the simplicity [of the new logo], some people say it’s childish,” says Renee Beelser of the merchandise desk. “But as the festival continues people are getting more accustomed to the new logo.” Festival Director Rutger Wolfson explains: “The new logo was a bold thing to do, and yes, there were a group of people who liked it right away and also a group of people who were fond of the old tiger.” Despite mixed reviews for the logo, the shop is seeing steady traffic. “It’s going pretty well,” says Tahnee Siahaya, who manages the merchandise desk “We’ve been busy, especially on weekends. And with four days left including a busy weekend, we expect to meet our target of selling 80% of our stock.” “The most popular items have been the men’s long sleeve shirts, especially in black and grey, and all the kid’s shirts,” she adds. The children’s ‘onesies’ and T-shirts all sold out by Sunday. “Everyone wants to buy something for the kids, not for themselves,” she says. In addition to perennial favourites like bags, cata-
logues, posters and T-shirts, new items this year include scarves (by American Apparel), lip balm, umbrellas, hats, reusable shopping bags and a short dress (now reduced to €20 from €25). DVDs of past Tiger films are also on sale for €10 or €15. In past years, the shop has sold items from past editions of the festival, but this year there is no nostalgia for sale. Offerings are all new (except the 2008 catalog, which had sold out by Sunday). The 2009 items have the bold tiger head on them, without the date or stamp of the 38th edition, so they could be used by IFFR year-round, or even sold next year without being out of date. And of course there is the potential to have updated visuals next year. Wolfson says the tiger head won’t change in coming years, but that it could be presented in new ways: “This year, we’ve used the logo in its most simple form, basic black,” and he added that the design team at agency 75B could explore other ways to work with the logo. Siahaya says that 2010’s IFFR shop could be improved by keeping the desk open even later, as customers are often milling about after the 9 pm closing time. Meanwhile, as this year’s festival winds down, the merchandise desk will close at 6 pm on Saturday and Sunday (and on Sunday it will move from the ticket hall of De Doelen to the information desk near the doors).
When the Daily Tiger placed an early-afternoon phone call to Sacha Roth, we were sorry to wake the programmer up. The late rise is understandable: the previous night was the second of four film-related music and performance events that Roth helped organize for the IFFR in Lantaren. A member of WORM, a Rotterdam-based artists’ collection/film and music venue/production outfit (“we keep re-writing our group description, it’s hard to explain what we do”, he says), Roth and his colleagues have invited a number of leading contemporary musicians to create live performances with a visual element. The strand got underway on Tuesday with sets from Austrian composer Oren Ambarchi and the electronic ensemble Faces (which includes past VPRO Tiger Awards Competition winner Jost van Veen). Other nights have included sets by Brazilian DJ Maga Bo (responsible for Roth’s late night) and London musician Peter Rehberg. Describing the shows as a “mash-up between music and film”, Roth says the visual element of each show varies: from the few slides that accompanied Maga Bo’s set to the extensive collection of found footage that Argentine Alan Courtis has assembled for his live work (which receives its Dutch premiere tonight). Commissioned by IFFR in November, Roth says WORM didn’t have much time to put the shows together: “We were asked at short notice and it’s been a bit ad hoc, but in the end it’s a good programme.” Plus, the IFFR imprimatur has helped with audience attendance: “The crowds have been very good. The show on Wednesday for instance was well attended and we wouldn’t ordinarily have drawn that many people in the middle of the week for that kind of show.” EL WORM Live: Alan Courtis + Gangol und Mit Lantaren 1 Fri 30 Jan 22.30
Be kind rewind IFFR’s video library czar Rob Duyser reflects on the ongoing effectiveness of the video library and the augmented wi-fi service offered to CineMart professionals. “The main thing is that industry professionals have the fullest possible access to the whole programme, excepting the filmmakers who don’t give us permission to show their films,” he commented. “That really corresponds with the festival’s intention of supporting the filmmaker, supporting independent cinema and giving the films as many opportunities as possible within the newly changing cinema. In that regard, we’ve done pretty well to contribute to this ideal.” “I can imagine that the CineMart experiment will be made more accessible in the future to more kinds of users,” he continues. “That’s something that would improve the whole connectibility at CineMart. Having all the network, internet and video library accessible in one system would make it more transparent and easy to use.” Stats to Thursday lunchtime indicate that Dogging: A Love Story is still the most popular title, while Unmade Beds is tidying up in second place. NC
Pound stretching Geoffrey Macnab asks whether the strong Euro will affect UK arthouse buys Currency fluctuations inevitably affect different parts of the film industry in different ways. The evidence in Rotterdam this week is that British distributors are feeling the pinch as the pound weakens against the Euro and the dollar. The ability of UK arthouse buyers to acquire the kind of films being shown in Rotterdam over the last ten days is, perhaps, dwindling. Many titles in IFFR’s programme have been snapped up already for the UK For example, Soda Pictures recently acquired Lebanese/French feature Je Veux Voir (screening in Spectrum) and is planning a spring/early summer release of the Hubert Bals Fund-backed film. (The sales agent was Films Boutique.) Meanwhile, ICA has taken UK rights to
Kornel Mundruczo’s Delta (screening in Spectrum) and New Wave has picked up Kore-eda Hirokazu’s Still Walking. There is no sign that British distributors are turning their backs on independent, arthouse cinema – but they are becoming markedly more selective. “When translating [from Euros] to pounds, we are not in the situation we were in in the summer – and that is the problem. You start your negotiations at one point, and then the exchange rate catches up on you,” notes Mark Adams from ICA Films of the way prices have leaped up in recent months. Adams notes that it isn’t just the minimum guarantee that can prove daunting to buyers when it is paid in Euros. “It’s the digi-betas, the print costs, the materi-
Moving on from Better Things By Nicole Santé
Following the success of his film Better Things on the festival circuit, British director Duane Hopkins is now busily working on a new project. Not a film this time, but an installation consisting of separate, filmic scenes, under the title Sunday. “When you make a film, you enter into a kind of contract with the viewer, whereby you promise to tell a story,” Hopkins says. “With art, you don’t need to stick to this kind of agreement. I can work in a much more radical way. There are 30-second scenes in the installation, but also scenes lasting eight minutes. These have a visual, audio and physical impact.” In Sunday, young people from the British countryside again play the leading role. The installation shows from 16 March in the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead.
als. They build up the price and then you have to factor that into the cost of the release.” ICA releases around a dozen films theatrically in the UK every year. There are no immediate plans to reduce this number. However, Adams acknowledges that the strength of the Euro against the pound may lead him to re-think just how these films reach audiences. “We could find ourselves doing more digitalonly releases,” Adams forecast. The exchange rate isn’t the only problem facing the UK’s specialized distributors. Another perennial complaint is that they can’t sell their arthouse acquisitions on to TV buyers, and that competition for screen space has become ever fiercer. However, British arthouse buyers are showing no sign of forsaking Rotterdam. As Adams says, the festival is arguably becoming more important, not less so. They won’t necessarily do any deals here. Cannes, Venice, Berlin and Toronto remain the most likely festivals for new acquisitions. “But (in Rotterdam), you can get to see projects quite early and you can build relationships with directors and producers.” Adams will often look to deal directly with producers – something IFFR helps facilitate. “Having a relationship with the filmmakers is a good thing. Everybody gets to understand the reality of the market. I am sure that it [the market] is booming in some parts of the world and that you can get big MGs [minimum guarantees]. This isn’t the case in the UK at the moment, especially on the lower-end arthouse films.”
photo: Ramon Mangold
38TH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com
The Insider Sebastian Silva tells Geoffrey Macnab about the true-life inspiration behind La nana
Heidi Maria Faisst
photo: Felix Kalkman
Mother love Heidi Maria Faisst talks to Wendy Mitchell about her searing maternal drama The Blessing “Anytime I start writing about a relationship, it always ends up being about the mother,” says Danish writer/director Heidi Maria Faisst. So of course her own mother squirmed when reading the script for Faisst’s feature debut, The Blessing, premiering in Bright Future. The story is about Katrine, who has a hard time connecting with her new-born daughter Rosa; as her mental state declines, it’s clear that longstanding issues with her own domineering mother are pushing her towards a breakdown. “My mother read the script and got sad and said, ‘Have I really been such a bad mother?’” Faisst says. “But I explained, ‘It’s not you up there.’ And suddenly she could see that it’s a good film.” In fact, her mother even appears as an extra in the film’s bus scene. The lead role of Katrine shows a brilliantly brave performance from Laerke Winther, who is surprisingly known for comedy in Denmark. She’s in nearly every shot of the film – and the harrowing nature of the story is emphasized by handheld camera and a lot of close-ups of the actress’s worried expressions. “She fought a lot for the part,” Faisst says. “She looks like she has a lot of secrets, there is a vulnerability behind this pretty face.” Casting the baby was also a challenge, as Faisst wanted to find the youngest newborn possible. She scouted for pregnant women and found a doctor with a calm demeanor who was happy to have her baby, Madeline, on the set of the film. In fact, it was the mother who had to tell Faisst she was being too overprotective of the baby and to just keep
shooting, even if the baby cried a bit. The mother told her: “Madeline isn’t thinking about what’s happening in this scene, she’s fine.” Faisst hasn’t experienced post-partum depression personally, but the idea of telling the story came from within. “I’m at the age  I’m supposed to have children, and I never think about it,” she says. “But when I did think about it, what I’m afraid of is if were to give birth and couldn’t feel anything.” She talked to friends with children to get some insight – “people are afraid to talk about it because it’s so ‘wrong’; you’re supposed to be having these wonderful feelings,” she notes. And later she would ask a psychiatrist to make sure her script ideas were feasible for a woman in this kind of mental state. And Faisst notes that her character is not just experiencing a case of hormonal imbalance after the birth. Katrine “has some issues that have nothing to do with childbirth, she knows she’s got these older issues that are harder to deal with.” The director is planning – unsurprisingly – another mother/daughter story, this time about a teenage girl whose mother gets out of prison, making her question her loyalty to the mother she barely knows and the grandmother who has raised her. “This one is about that longing to connect with one’s mother,” she says. The Blessing Heidi Maria Faisst Lantaren 1 Fri 30 Jan 14:30
Hoarse-voiced, still exultant over his Sundance success (where his film La nana / The Maid won two World Cinema prizes), Chilean director Sebastian Silva breezed through Rotterdam earlier this week. Despite his annoyance at technical glitches which resulted in a Rotterdam screening of La nana starting without sound, the young auteur was in high spirits after his experiences in Utah. La nana is a queasily intimate and comic study of a woman working as a domestic servant for a bourgeois Chilean family. Raquel (brilliantly played by Catalina Saavedra) is an “insider” in that she has lived with the family for more than 20 years and (quite literally) cleans their dirty linen. But she is an “outsider” too. She eats her meals apart from the family. She is not their blood relative. In some primal way, they regard her as an intruder. Her resentment toward them is likewise self-evident. Silva acknowledges that La nana has a strong autobiographical undertow. He could hardly deny the fact given that his younger brother appears in the film which was actually shot in his family home, when his parents were away on holiday. (But, yes, he did warn them in advance that the film crew was on its way.) “The room that Raquel uses is the actual room of the maid who raised me for over 25 years,” the director confides. His real-life father is just like the one portrayed in the film: a middle-class professional who plays golf and enjoys building model boats in his spare time. The director dyed the hair of the actress playing the mother so that she would look like his own mum. The filmmaker found it very strange growing up among maids. “It is weird – a strange phenomenon, especially if you are a very self-conscious person.” In Chile, brute economics force women to become maids. Some are émigrés or women from the countryside who arrive in the big city “with no resources.” A job with a family provides shelter. The problem is that, the longer the women stay with a family, the more their own personalities are eroded. In making the film, Silva wasn’t trying to make a social statement. “I am not that kind of filmmaker,” he declares. Instead, he wanted to explore his own vexed relationship with the maid
who brought him up for so long. “The film came out of this unresolved relationship with this particular maid. I never really got along with her. I always felt she was having a very miserable life… as an adolescent, I would always tell my mother please to fire her so she could have her own life and I could get rid of her. It’s very strange to live with someone who is not part of your family and who you do not get along with. It’s like being in school when you’re at home – it’s strange.” Once Silva left home as a nineteen-year-old, he began to regard the maid in a more sympathetic and detached way. He realized how difficult her life was. She lived like a nun, giving up any chance of having a boyfriend. In the film, he frequently shows the maid in her most intimate moments – in the shower washing in her tiny bathroom, or in bed. He wanted to show the life she lived in the moments when she wasn’t in uniform, on call to her employers. The director has shown the film both to his family and to the real-life maid who inspired it. The experience was therapeutic. No bitterness remains. In the meantime, if anyone wants to make an English version of La nana, they are welcome… as long as they pay. “If they make a really good money offer, then it is theirs ….” La Nana / The Maid Sebastian Silva Pathé 4 Sat 31 Jan 15:45
Behind The Smiles Thai director Thunska Pansittivorakul’s sexually explicit new film will be banned in his homeland. But he still felt compelled to make it. By Wendy Mitchell
Thai director Thunska Pansittivorakul knows that his film This Area is Under Quarantine – a world premiere at IFFR – is a risky project, given its criticisms of Thai politics and especially its explicit images of homosexual sex. “It’s not my first time with controversy,” the director says. “I didn’t try to make a controversial film; I just needed to tell this story. Besides me, who else would do this?” He notes that he’s not planning a release in Thailand, where images of homosexuality are banned on film, but will only show it to select interested people. He felt the impetus to make the film when, three years ago, Muslims were being killed in southern Thailand and Pansittivorakul felt that the government’s response wasn’t adequate. So he shot the film as interviews with two men – a young Muslim man from southern Thailand and a young Buddhist man from the north. He asks them about political, cultural and personal issues. And then the two men go into a room together and had actual sexual intercourse while the director filmed. “Of course, there was some embarrassment to start, but as it went on they felt more relaxed,” Pansittivorakul says. The Muslim man was a former classmate of the director’s and the other was one of 25 people he interviewed. The men were strangers at first, but
38TH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com
shared an instant connection. The director has been pleased with the film’s reception in Rotterdam, but says “I’m not sure Europeans can totally understand the emotions of the film.” As he explains: “They call Thailand the land of smiles, but deep inside us there is sadness. This political situation is in the back of our minds, and I tried to express that in the movie.” In fact, the Thai woman who was his original IFFR translator was so moved by the film that she broke down in tears and couldn’t translate the first screening’s Q&A. A second translator said she was also moved but could handle the job. Pansittivorakul has made films since 2000, including shorts (his latest short Action! is also screening at IFFR 2009) and the documentaries Happy Berry and Happy Berry: Oops! I Did It Again. IFFR has shown his shorts since 2004. “I like it here, it’s fresh,” he says. “There are a lot of dynamic young people.” Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul is on board to produce Pansittivorakul’s new Pusan Promotion Plan-backed feature, Strangers Paradise (former title Heartbreak Pavilion), with the script in development now. And he’s also planning a project with a Singaporean director, but remains tight-lipped about that project for now. This Area is Under Quarantine Thunska Pansittivorakul Venster 2 Fri 30 Jan 22:30
The Filmmaker‘s Quiz
Fortuna favours the brave
Prove your filmmaking knowlegde and win a trip and free VIP-tickets to eDIT 12. Filmmaker‘s Festival in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, October 4th - 6th 2009.
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Grace Kelly and Cary Grant 1955 starred in Hitchcock‘s TO CATCH...
A person who creates sound effects by hand?
Style of films with roots in japanese Manga comic books is called
A place where films are screened:
To cut a film by use of a computer:
What does the acronym A.C.E. – society of film editors – stand for?
The Director of BRAZIL:
The process of hiring actors to play the characters in a script:
In 1991 Martin Scorsese remade this 1962 J. Lee Thompson classic: Marty Mc Fly went...
The musical component of a movie‘s soundtrack is called?
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It’s not so often that you come across a small independent film company in Rotterdam marking its centenary, but Ilse Hughan’s Amsterdam-based Fortuna Films is one such celebrant. Originally founded in 1909 by Hughan’s grandfather, visionary Belgian film entrepreneur Jean Desmet, Fortuna has shifted its emphasis over the years from mobile and fixed exhibition to sales entity to production house. Since her decision in 2001 to up sticks and spend half the year in Buenos Aires, Hughan has produced three films with Argentinean auteur Lisandro Alonso, whose CineMart-developed and Hubert Bals Fund-backed Liverpool screens in Spectrum this year. She also produced Paz Encina’s Hamaca Paraguaya (Paraguayan Hammock, 2006), which she describes as the first film made in Paraguay in 25 years and the first Paraguayan film ever to be selected at Cannes, where it won the Fipresci Prize. “I was asked to do a workshop in Buenos Aires and I fell in love with the country and the people,” she explains. “But I don’t have citizenship, so we brainstorm the projects in Argentina and then my role is to use my contacts in Europe to finance
Amsterdam-based producer Ilse Hughan tells Nick Cunningham why she feels like a spider in the web
To which city did the dentist P. Sherman take Nemo? Name the cinematographer of Fellini‘s ROMA, AMACORD, E LA NAVE VA? Giuseppe What is the English title of Emir Kusturica‘s CRNA MACKA, BELI MACOR?
them. I am the spider in the web.” Despite her credentials as a competent producer of award-winning films, Hughan expresses dissatisfaction with The Netherlands Film Fund’s perceived unwillingness to back her projects. “I am not recognised by the Fund as a Dutch producer, as I have never made a film in the Netherlands,” she alleges. “Only when I do that can I apply to them, even though I have made four films and they have all been selected for Cannes. I’m getting emotional about it – I think it’s a bit unfair and a bit stupid as well. I have a lot of experience and a network, good taste and I know how to produce a film. How can I explain to people abroad that I am not recognized as a producer at home? That can be harmful, but I manage.” Hughan confirms that she will produce the next film by Alonso, as yet untitled – “no name, nothing to admit”, she tells – and the next film by Paz Encina, El Suspiro, which will start shooting in June 2010. In Rotterdam, Hughan is also drumming up support for the Bueno Aires Co-production Market (BAL) in March 2009. She also notes that, as a sales entity, Fortuna Films handled international sales on Peter Liechti’s Signers Koffer – Unterwegs mit Roman Spigner (1996), which screens as part of the artist/filmmaker’s retrospective at IFFR 2009.
What were Fassbinder‘s first and middle name?
Rotterdam Lab has provided producer Della Churchill with valuable contacts for her two new projects. By Nick Cunningham
Which Stanley Kubrick film starred Jack Nicholson (as Jack Torrance)? IMAGO is The European Federation of ....?
Who is setting the light in principal photography?
Which movie grossing $1.842.879.955 is regarded the most succesful ever?
The camera range in which objects are in focus is called...
...to be continued tomorrow!
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photo: Ramon Mangold
Australian producer and Rotterdam Lab debutant Della Churchill is in town not only to benefit from Lab expertise, but to continue financing on her film Melt, which she says is 70% financed. The project was assessed during Brian Chirls’ DIY distribution workshop earlier in the week. “The Lab is all about creating new networks,” she explains. “I made a lot of great Asian contacts here, which is great. I think the DIY workshop was interesting, although the project is a little further advanced than the Lab expected – I’ve already prestrategised what I will do for Melt and the film after that, The Witness Tree. But I was amazed at the number of people who came – they were very varied, and we got to hear from a lot of experienced producers around the world.” Churchill describes Melt as “a coming of age/ stranger comes to town story” aimed primarily at women aged 18-30. Slated to direct is Australian Sofya Gollan (Preservation, 2003), who is deaf. “When you lose your hearing, you gain so many other things and Sofya has the most amazing visual acuity – I really believe in her talent.” She is looking to shoot the film in 2010. Jacqueline Cook’s script for The Witness Tree was this week selected for the
photo: Daniëlle van Ark
Australian PFTC/QPIX script development programme during which it will be script-edited by US writer/director Neil LaBute (Nurse Betty, 2000). Churchill was impressed by the range of advice services offered by the Rotterdam Lab, not least Binger chief Ido Abram’s insistence that success within the marketplace is proportional to the extent of one’s willingness to pitch and network. “Ido gave us the full low-down on CineMart; what it is, how to work it, how to network, how to pitch,” she explained. “If you’re standing, you should be pitching. It really was an invaluable day’s work with him.”
29.01.2009 15:26:52 Uhr
38TH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL ROTTERDAM www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com