Fifteen films will screen in competition at the 2008 International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) later this month and the festival will open on January 23rd with the world premiere of Lucia Cedron‘s “Lamb of God” (Cordero de dios) from Argentina. The film is described as, a family drama about the kidnapping of 77-year old man during Argentina’s economic crisis in 2002, forcing his daughter to return from exile to Buenos Aires. Produced by Lita Stantic, who also produced “The Holy Girl” and “Paraguayan, Hammock” the film was supported by IFFR’s Hubert Bals Fund.
“This edition’s Competition for first or second films reflects the festival’s diversity in programming, and features what may be a wider range than ever in style, attitude, origin or topic,” noted Rutger Wolfson, director of the 37th Rotterdam festival, commenting on this year’s Tiger Competition. The festival programmers included Ludmila Cvikova, Gerwin Tamsma and Gertjan Zuilhof. Wolfson continued, in the statement, “Making this selection, we have been moved by the many different stories told in very different ways, taking us to the hearts and minds of characters from all over the world, from Kazakhstan, USA, Denmark, Ukraine, China, Greece and Chile, amongst others. This Tiger Competition shows the ways of filmmaking and the filmmakers for the future”.
The complete International Film Festival Rotterdam Tiger Awards competition (in alphabetical order by international film title, information provide by the festival):
“Eat, for This Is My Body” (Mange, ceci est mon corps) by Michelange Quay (France/Haiti, 2007), European premiere
Elegant, lyrical surrealism and restrained angry political pamphlet in one. Filmmaker from Haiti treats in breathtaking tableaux vivants the dramatic colonial heritage of his native country. With Sylvie Testud and a remarkable amateur cast.
Sales: Memento Films
“Flower in the Pocket” by Liew Seng Tat (Malaysia, 2007), European premiere
A film without a mother. A film with a father who has withdrawn into himself. And especially a film with two charming young crooks. Liew Seng Tat’s debut feature film has an outspoken style of its own and is characterised by a melancholy absurdism and a slightly perverted cheerfulness. “Flower in the Pocket” was awarded in Pusan by both audience and Jury as Best Film in the New Currents Competition.
Sales: Da Huang Pictures Sdn. Bhd.
“Fujian Blue” (Jin bi hui huang) by Wemg Shou-ming (China, 2007), European premiere, Hubert Bals Fund supported film
Attractive, energetic and topical debut feature film is situated in Fujian, one of the first Chinese provinces to be opened to the outside world and currently the nexus of modern day Chinese diaspora. First part tells about petty criminals who finance their modern life style with blackmail; the second part about a young man who doubts if he should try his luck in the West.
Sales: Fantasy Pictures Entertainment
“Go with Peace Jamil” (Ma salama Jamil) by Omar Shargawi (Denmark, 2008), world premiere
“Go with Peace Jamil” is about Arabic people in a Western country, in this case a city in Denmark. The story is based on the cultural, religious and traumatic ballast many people from the Middle East carry along when they arrive at their new home in the West. A family drama propelled by the power of family ties, loyalty among friends and the religious dividing lines within the Arabic communities.
Sales: Trust Film Sales
“The King of Ping Pong” (PingPong-Kingen) by Jens Jonsson (Sweden, 2007), European premiere
The life of adolescents: a classic basis for a debut film and Jens Jonsson, who has already come to fame with his short films, proves with “The King of Ping Pong” that he can look at it from a very original perspective. In the wintry north of Sweden, adolescent Rille rules over his subjects in the local table-tennis centre but is bullied outside. This portrait of a boy whose consciousness about uneasy and unpleasant things slowly comes to the surface is recognisable, moving and funny.
Sales: Bob Film Sweden AB
“Lamb of God” (Cordero de dios) by Lucia Cedron (Argentina, 2008), world premiere, Opening Film, Hubert Bals Fund supported film
IFFR 2008’s Opening Night film, “Lamb of God” tells a gripping family drama about the kidnap of 77-year old Arturo during Argentina’s economic crisis in 2002. This forces his daughter, who has been living in exile since 1978, to return to Buenos Aires. Little by little, the past is echoed in the present, reshaping the way current events are understood. Lucia Cedron’s film stands out as an exceptionally sophisticated feature debut.
Sales: Lita Stantic Producciones
“Las meninas” by Igor Podolchak & Dean Karr (Ukraine, 2008), world premiere
Feature film debut by Ukrainian visual artist Igor Podolchak evokes a dysfunctional family life as if it were a painting in movement. One musical part is co-directed by well known music video director Dean Karr. Cutting-edge and enchanting, Las meninas is not a film about a story; it is a film about senses – you see, you hear, you almost touch it and you certainly experience the full strength of its flow.
Sales: MF Films
“Shanghai Trance” by David Verbeek (The Netherlands, 2008), world premiere
Young Dutch director made an almost entirely Chinese film in a metropolis where all is new and an outsider is not more lost then the locals. “Shanghai Trance” is a cinematic portrait of Shanghai in three interconnected love stories. Each layer of the film explores a different social layer of the city. All stories are about people between the age of 20 and 30, hereby shaping the face of a generation.
Sales: IdtV Film/Motel Films
“The Sky, the Earth and the Rain (El cielo, la tierra y la lluvia) by Jose Luis Torres Leiva (Chili, 2008), world premiere, Hubert Bals Fund supported film
The first feature by Torres Leiva provides an idiosyncratic, pure contribution to a new Latin American wave of filmmakers. In the South of Chile, on a thinly populated island, he follows the lonely lives of three women and a man. The lyricism of Torres is self-assured and modest, his mise-en-scene is stunning and calm, his characters moving in their lonely, precise simplicity.
Sales: Jirafa Films
“Strizh by Abai Kulbai” (Kazakhstan 2007), international premiere
“Strizh” is a coming-of-age film that seems to be universal in theme. On the other hand though, it offers a chance to get to know the young generation in Almaty. One that is totally unaware of the Soviet past and in search of its own identity. Kulbai’s debut feature film is shot in the tradition of modern Kazakh cinema, but has a very personal style that stands out. Teenage girl Ainur struggles with her life, her only resort to peace seems to be her father.
Sales: Kazakhfilm National Company
“Tale 52” (Istoria 52) by Alexiou Alexis (Greece, 2008), world premiere
Right from the start, “Tale 52” puts the perception of truth of both the protagonist and the viewer to the test. Iasonas meets Penelope at a dinner with mutual friends. At some point Penelope moves in with him. Until, one morning, she has disappeared. Despite his outspoken visual language, Alexis Alexiou leaves the viewer uncertain about the origins of the emotional suffering of the timid looking Iasonas. His feature debut turns into a psychological thriller without deliverance.
Sales: Tugo Tugo Productions
“Waltz in Starlight” (Hoshikageno Waltz) by Shingo Wakagi (Japan, 2007), international premiere
A first feature by a photographer with an experienced and trained eye. This personal film reconstructs an episode from the childhood of the photographer/filmmaker, focusing largely on his admired grandfather, a performer of Manzai, a specific Japanese form of stand-up comedy. Succesful in creating an authentic mood, Shingo Wakagi creates the images that translate his memories to the screen.
Sales: Tohokushinsha Film Corporation
“Wellness” by Jake Mahaffy (USA, 2008), world premiere
At first sight, Thomas Lindsey is an ordinary man. Less usual is his sales campaign for a fake product. Wellness is a strong and unpolished low-budget film about the conflicts of conscience a lonely man faces after realizing he has been cheated out of his life’s savings. In the town of Warren the inhabitants, none of them professional actors, played almost all the roles. The film is not a documentary, but that is how it was shot, providing an unusually realistic effect.
Sales: Jake Mahaffy
“Wonderful Town” by Aditya Assarat (Thailand, 2007), European premiere, Hubert Bals Fund supported film
“Wonderful Town,” a Pusan New Currents Award winner, is situated in a Thai village that never recovered from the 2004 tsunami devastation. In the refined treatment of these sad surroundings, something beautiful and fragile emerges between an architect who monitors a reconstruction project and the sensitive hotel owner. Slowly, violence and drama also emerge in the film.
Sales: Memento Films
“Years When I Was a Child Outside” (Taon noong ako’y anak sa labas) by John Torres (Philippines, 2008), world premiere, Hubert Bals Fund supported film
This poetic, complex and personal film, is both a diary and an essay about the relationship between the film maker and his father, an author and seller of self-help books. After discovering his father has another complete family alongside his own, the son flees the house. A contemplative travelogue about a quest with which he tries to create order in the chaos, “Years When I Was a Child Outside” begins against the background of the damage caused by a super typhoon in Manila.
Sales: Peliculas Los Otros