Rotterdam to Open 33rd Fest With Takeshi Kitano's "Zatoichi"
by Eugene Hernandez
The 33rd International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) will open with Takeshi Kitano's "Zatoichi" on January 21, and the festival will continue through February 1. The film, which will be presented at the festival by Kitano, won the Silver Lion for best director and the audience prize at the Venice Film Festival in September. In the film, Kitano stars as a blind swordsman who rescues a village that is run by gangsters and samurai.
"Full of vitality, wit, and marvelously choreographed sword-play 'Zatoichi' will start the festival in a wonderful mood," said IFFR director Simon Field. "We have chosen this film not only to represent the festival's long-standing enthusiasm for Japanese cinema but also our admiration for the work of Takeshi Kitano in particular. It's a great honour for me personally in my last year as a director of the festival and for the festival itself that Mr. Kitano has broken into a very hectic schedule to be present in Rotterdam."
In other IFFR news, organizers announced Friday that Isaac Julien will be the second Artist in Focus. Organizers noted that the choice of Julien is meant to reflect the festival's focus on the crossover between film and visual arts. Among the work to be showcased will include Julien's recent "Paradise Omeros" and "Baltimore." Installations will be presented at the Rotterdam Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen and at the Rotterdam art centre TENT, with three programs of Julien's work screened as well.
Sidebars set for the 2004 International Film Festival Rotterdam include "Once We Were Birds: Romani Cinema," "Homefront USA," and "Power: Play." Set to screen in the Romani section are Aleksander Manic's "Shutka" and Zelimir Zilnik's "Kennedi Comes Home."
Finally, IFFR organizers also announced that they will present 10 one-minute films commissioned by the festival. Participating filmmakers will include Yael Bartana (The Netherlands), Anouk de Clercq (Belgium), Tony Cokes (USA), Werther Germondari (Italy), Christoph Girardet (Germany), Lewis Klahr (USA), Miguel Gomes (Portugal), Nicolas Provost (Belgium), Brothers Quay (U.K.) and Bea de Visser (The Netherland). The project is a collaboration between IFFR and the Dutch Province of Zuid-Holland.
[ For more information, please visit: http://www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com. ]