How best to define the Rotterdam Film Festival’s Spectrum sidebar? The site declares that it “brings together highlights of the film year, new work by prominent auteurs and topical, strong and innovative films by accomplished filmmakers.” So really, any old tat. This year’s assortment is particularly lively. As well as a prime cut of Dutch perversity, there are tactile love stories from Thailand, a pair of robust films from the Philippines, the return of Chris Petit, and an Austin-set horror flick. Sharp and sexy, the Spectrum is festival popcorn without tears.
Ang Mundo sa Panahon ng Bato (Stone is the Earth)
Last year the world got the first intimations that Filipino cinema was undergoing a kind of renaissance. Ramon Mes de Guzman moved to filmmaking after becoming a literary success with the short story collection Barriotic Punk. He follows up his festival hit The Road to Kalimugtong with the story of a rural family. A homecoming is followed by a discovery which threatens to undo them all.
Writer/director Chris Petit’s 1980 debut Radio On was the kind of film it’s hard to live down. Shepherded by Wim Wenders, the mix of British road movie and rock ‘n’ roll is still a touchstone for cultists and psychogeographers alike (Petit is profiled in Iain Sinclair’s Lights Out for the Territory.) His latest promises more of the glorious same. Another journey is mediated by a new century and the zen of the stick shift.