Returned from Rotterdam: IFFR 2015

The end of January saw this intrepid reporter attend International Film Festival Rotterdam (21 Jan – 1 Feb) for the first time, where I was selected to take part in their Trainee Programme for Young Film Critics, alongside Tina Poglajen, Rueben Demasure and Oris Aigbokhaevbolo. Whilst there, I contributed preview/interviews for the festival’s newspaper, The Daily Tiger, sat on the FIPRESCI jury (where me and my fellow trainees had one, collective vote) awarding the prize to the best film in the Bright Futures strand, and had the pleasure of ‘expert meetings’ with established critics and editors, Clarence Tsui (The Hollywood Reporter), Wendy Mitchell (Screen International) and Jay Weissberg (Variety).

I also managed to see thirty-one films in total, write three reviews for CineVue, and one focused report on the strand Signals: WTF?! for the forthcoming edition of Little White Lies. I got very little sleep, learned at lot and met some truly fantastic people.

Solos by Joanna Lombardi
Solos by Joanna Lombardi

Highlights from the programme were Ana Lungu’s Self Portrait of a Dutiful Daughter, a thoughtful, witty piece looking at the ‘late’ coming of age of a young woman inheriting her parents apartment, that exposes the learned behaviours that oppress her. Solos by Joanna Lombardi examined the financial and cultural restrictions on distributing exactly the kind of films that IFFR celebrates, following four friends as they attempt to attract audiences to independent film screenings in rural Peru. With improvised dialogue, the relationship between the friends emerges gradually, and their endeavour becomes ever more absurd, as audiences shift from one to zero. Lombardi’s steadfast refusal to abide by any cinematic rules is admirable, and though the audience for her films may be a small as her characters’, I hope to see more of her work in the future. Finally, Isabelle Tollenaere’s Battles, which was awarded with the FIPRESCI prize, was a carefully edited, episodic piece, exposing the military in Belgium, Albania and Russia, as more useful as a source of social propaganda than a means of defence. Three talented directors that are definitely worth looking out for.

I’ll be posting each of my Daily Tiger pieces here on the site, courtesy of IFFR’s DT editors, Nick Cunningham and Lot Piscaer.