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cinemadaily | Rotterdam Roundup

cinemadaily | Rotterdam Roundup

With Sundance 2010 officially a wrap, let’s turn out attention to the International Film Festival Rotterdam, underway as of last Wednesday.

“The first Korean film to open the festival, [Park Chan-ok’s] ‘Paju’ received a mixed response from the Rotterdam audience,” reports Geoffrey Macnab for Screen Daily. “A slow burning character drama with a complex narrative structure, it was not an obvious crowd pleaser although it was praised by some for its artistry.”

“The best new work I’ve seen here, British director Simon Rumley’s revisionist horror film ‘Red White & Blue,’ is not a Euro or Asian production, but a joint, low-budget UK/US project shot in Austin, Texas,” writes Howard Feinstein in his dispatch from the festival for indieWIRE. “It is rumored that it will have its American premiere at South by Southwest (SXSW) next month. Any other festival would have pigeonholed ‘Red White & Blue,’ into a midnight section geared toward late-carousing young’uns, but here, in an arguably more egalitarian society than most, it is treated just like any other fine film, part of the Spectrum strand that includes arthouse fare, docs, and other genre movies.” Continues Feinstein: “Rotterdam’s reputation, however, rests on its comprehensive sidebars.”This year’s most ambitious undertaking is a two-part exhibition, ‘Where Is Africa?’ and ‘Forget Africa.’ Zuilhof went to 10 sub-Saharan countries with international directors in tow. The visitors made films about their experiences but also collaborated with local filmmakers, most of whom have not had access to decent equipment and the luxury of subtitling to export their achievements.”

Over at the Auteurs Notebook, Daniel Kasman is posting regular updates from the fest. A few highlights: “I don’t much travel the festival circuit, but I assume the genre of feckless, barely employed, malaise-ing youth such as those featured in Heng Yang’s second feature ‘Sun Spots’ are a convention well past its expiration date, and perhaps relevancy,” writes Kasman. “Yet few films so precisely and deliberately, almost stubbornly and most certainly stunningly frame their youthful clichés in as stoic and minimal a grandeur as Yang’s epic digital theater.” Comparing “Sun Spots” to another film at the festival, James Benning’s digital feature “Ruhr,” he reports that the latter “made up of 6 takes—tunnel, factory, forest outside of an airport, mosque, suburban road—which are relatively short compared to the hour-long 7th and final image of steam billowing and receding from a smoke stack as the sun slowly sets, is just as physically arresting to watch for similar reasons.”

“The lives of people in their twenties are put under a microscope in several films in the Tiger Awards competition at the International Film Festival Rotterdam,” notes Boyd van Hoeij for Cineuropa. “French debut feature ‘Chicks’ (‘La Vie Au Ranch’) from newcomer Sophie Letourneur portrays the life of two student girls in their early twenties… Using an offhand approach that focuses on the details of everyday life rather than large plot arcs, this seemingly improvised film, filled with constant chattering and a very loose camera, finds itself somewhere between fiction and documentary, as Letourner decided to find an already existing group of friends of non-actors to fit with her screenplay ideas.” Meanwhile, van Hoeij writes that Tobias Lindholm and Michael Noer’s Danish production “R” is a “hard-hitting prison drama” with “an appropriately rough and gritty look that is much aided by handheld camerawork and a washed-out colour palette.”

James Mansfield is blogging from the festival for Little White Lies and gives word on the Korean coming-of-age film “Eighteen”: “First time director Jang Kun-Jae has a fussy style that dilutes any power the actors formulate, flitting from sedate tracking shots to camera phone footage with little justification… there’s use of voiceover, flashback, slo-mo, and fade-to-black, yet this only yields fatigue, the image unfastened, baggy, and a deviation from the leaden narrative that’s unfolding beneath.”

celinejulie has a Rotterdam “wish list” with descriptions and links to several of the films screening at the festival. More from Peter Martin at Cinematical.

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