Rotterdam Awards Top Prizes to Italian, Russian and Spanish Films
by Brian Brooks
The International Film Festival Rotterdam presented its prizes tonight in Rotterdam, awarding the VPRO Tiger Awards to three films: Daniele Gaglianone's "Nemmeno Il Destino" (Changing Destiny) from Italy, Mercedes Alvarez' "El Cielo Gira" (The Sky Turns) from Spain and Ilya Khrzhanovsky's "4" from Russia. Fourteen films by first or second-time filmmakers competed for the VPRO Tiger Awards competition this year. IFFR began January 26th and continues through Sunday, February 6.
Italian production, "Nemmeno Il Destino" follows the story of two unprivileged friends who live in a dilapidated industrial town, who look for an "oasis" from the rubbish left behind by the deserted factories. Both are also trying to escape their less than perfect family lives, which are complicated by their parents' respective problems.
From Spain, "El Cielo Gira" (The Sky Returns) by Mercedes Alvarez is a portrait of the director's dying village in northern Spain. Alvarez was the last person born in La Aldea, but left with her parents when she was three, and today, only fourteen people live there. She returns to La Aldea and makes a "stunning" film about memory and the "terrifying" passing of time. According to a festival description, the camera "records the conversations and activities of the last villagers, the conversion of the old castle into a hotel that might breathe new life into the area."
Russian Ilya Khrzhanovsky's directorial debut, "4" is composed of episodes of life in Moscow and the countryside, according to the festival website. The film opens with three characters talking in a bar, each revealing both "intriguing" and "banal" insights about their lives. Only later, when they separate, is the viewer is given more details about each.
In the audience award ballotting, presented on the festival's closing night Saturday, Bahman Ghobadi's "Turtles Can Fly" was the winner. The film beat Susanne Bier's "Brothers" for the award and Ghobadi was awarded a Euro 7,500 prize.
In other prizes, the first TV5 Tiger Cub Awards for short films were presented to David Lammers' "Veere" and "Interlude" by Joost van Veen from The Netherlands and to "Nuuk" by Thomas Koner from Germany. This year's FIPRESCI Award went to Whang Cheol-Mean's "Frackchi" (Spying Cam) "for its original exploration of a political theme by giving it a deep human dimension." CineMart 2005 project "Hamaca Paraguaya" by Paz Encina (Paraguay) received this year's Prince Claus Fund Film Grant, which includes 15,000 euros. CineMart, a market organized by IFFR, concluded February 3rd. Iranian director Hassan Yektapanah took the Amnesty International - DOEN Award. The prize consists of a 5,000 euro cash grant.