The Rotterdam Film Festival has a reputation for supporting the work of new filmmakers through the Hubert Bals Fund. The Bright Future sidebar focuses on directors making their first or second film. Too bad nobody took the title very seriously. Features and documentaries alike this year tackle dead serious issues while also bending the limits of their respective genres. In the first part of our sidebar preview, the curriculum includes Brazilian gentrification, African genocide and baby fever gone bad. The IRFF runs between January 27 and February 7. No razor blades or exhaust pipes will be allowed in the theatre.
The pitch: A Recife neighborhood is relocated to make way for a coastal motorway.
The evils of gentrification, eh? Gabriel Mascaro’s film is closer to a portrait of the transplanted barrio. Mixing fact and fiction, the changing ‘hood is seen through the eyes of a videographer waiter and his clients.
Any shooting? Only the filmic variety. The subjects include a little boy who wants to be Spider-Man and a girl who is applying to be on Idolos Brazil.
The pitch: An oil worker in Patagonia lights out for the territory, where he witnesses the struggle between man and nature.
Does he turn into a blue alien smurf? Nope. This is the first feature from video artist Sebastian Diaz Morales, whose work has been described as “filmic narratives embracing stories that sometimes resemble science fiction, sometimes with certain catastrophic overtones, and in which there is an ever-present common denominator of a minimalist narrative style wherein the camera is always moving and in which the characters virtually function as metaphors for a story that goes beyond the anecdote to reveal problems of great scope in current society.”
Phew! Like I said, does he turn into a blue alien smurf? The results look closer to a combination of There Will Be Blood’s celebration of imperialism with the badlands of No Country for Old Men. But let’s move on, shall we?
The pitch: A young woman’s descent into manic depression is related through staged scenes and animations.
I’m seeing Angelina Jolie in the role. Well, this is an Indonesian film, so you’re getting Kartika Jahja, who suffers from bipolar disorder.
I’m getting depressed just thinking about it. Director Paul Agusta is a fellow sufferer. This Indonesian film looks like a searing psycho-dramatic take on the condition. Visit the official site here.
The pitch: A bellhop and receptionist snoop on the guests at their Buenos Aires hotel.
Please don’t sniff the sheets. Their escapade actually tells the duo more about themselves than the guests.
They didn’t check the toiletry bags closely enough, then. Clara Picasso’s debut feature could be Argentina’s answer to Being John Malkovich, but with less puppets.
At last, some cartoons! This is more adult fare than you’re used to. It’s also set in a post-apocalyptic future.
Something about Rotterdam really brings out the best in humanity. The teaser trailer for Ayar Blasco’s Argentine Adobe flash animation suggests there’s a fair share of skinheads, gimp masks, and senseless violence.
Any songs? Well, the blurb also mentions “intelligent garbage” if that’s your thing.
The pitch: A handicapped girl finds hope and despair in the South Korean healthcare system.
Oh South Korea, you are spoiling us! Ham Kyoung-Rock takes a documentary approach to Sohee’s travails, which include being separated from her handicapped lover because of abuse allegations.
Hm. Separation looms large in Ham’s world. His 2006 short Dolus Eventualis was about the search for a missing friend where both memory and reality are called into question.
The pitch: A Hungarian woman (Eva Gabor) documents her nation’s political turmoil while kindling a new relationship.
Look out Bela Tarr. Ukranian-born music video director Anita Doron’s feature has its share of booze, smokes and tubas. Hungary’s nationalist fervor is part of the mise en scene and the results combine reportage with flirtation. It’s also funny.
The pitch: A documentary about the legacy of Sierra Leone’s decade-long civil war.
Even God would agree it’s not a good one. There’s more hope in Brigitte Uttar Kornetzky’s documentary than you might think. The country is slowly rebuilding itself and interviews with the populace reveal both resilience and humor.
I’m still going to be depressed, though. Well, the story of how voters had their hands chopped off is unlikely to put a smile on anyone’s face.
The pitch: Disgruntled documentary filmmaker Jesse de Jong is grumpy after getting back from the jungle. So he goes to a country commune to get his head together—and brings the cameras along.
Did de Jong see the light? Something tells us that maybe his journey towards transcendence, a little like Sierra Leone, took a few wrong turns somewhere.
The pitch: We Have to Talk About Hans.
Family driven nuts by little blighter? Pregnancy is all it takes for this Dutch couple to start feeling the cracks in their bourgeois existence. Paranoia, slapping and crazy carnival rides add to the fun.
Fun Fact: According to the Urban Dictionary, director Sander Burger’s name also means “big moron.” Which is probably totally made up.
The pitch: Modern life forces a man to seek refuge on a deserted island south of Chile.
He must have seen too many documentaries about Sierra Leone. Eugenio Morales hopes to set up a brave new world there with himself in charge. But you know what happens to brave new worlds.
Before you know it, they’re chopping people’s hands off. Judging from this extract, filmmakers Pablo Carrera and Christopher Murray mine the situation more for absurdist chuckles than atrocity.
Tags: Anita Doron, At the Very Bottom of Everything, Avenida Brasilia Formosa, Ayar Blasco, Brigitte Uttar Kornetzky, Christopher Murray, Clara Picasso, Defiant Brasilia, Di dasar segalanya, Dolus Eventualis, El Camino entre dos puntos, El pasante, El Sol, Elbowroom, Eugenio Morales, Europa East, Eva Gabor, Gabriel Mascaro, God No Say So, Ham Kyoung-Rock, Het Hemelse Leven op Aarde, Hunting& Zn., Jesse de Jong, Kartika Jahja, Manuel de Ribera, Pablo Carrera, Paul Agusta, Rotterdam Film Festival, Sander Burger, Sebastian Diaz Morales, The Way Between Two Points