International Film Festival Rotterdam 2020

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“The Directors I Work With Prefer a Natural Approach”: DP Diego García at Rotterdam 2020

Because of the nature of the business, a cinematographer often has a more eclectic body of work than an actor or a director, and it is not unusual to see their work span continents. Even by these standards, however, Diego García’s filmography is quite impressive: His last four credits are Carlos Reygadas’s Our Time, Gabriel Mascaro’s Divine Love, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Too Old to Die Young, and Yorgos Lanthimos’s short film Nimic—four films produced in four different countries by directors with four different mother tongues. It isn’t surprising, then, to hear that García is particularly attentive to a director’s body of […]

International Film Festival Rotterdam 2020: The Gaze of the Old Filmmaker

Tyger Tyger burning bright, In the forests of the night: What immortal hand or eye,  Dare frame thy fearful symmetry? — William Blake As one of the centerpiece programs at the 49th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), “The Tyger Burns” was a canny display of un-hipness. What a joy it was to pay repeated witness to such a mammoth series of movies so gleefully, so wilfully out of touch. What better way to undercut the widespread love of emerging voices, new talents and young geniuses than to turn to aging, even senile artists who have either fallen […]

“Power and Organizational Pressure Win Over Logic”: Kazuo Hara on Reiwa Uprising at Rotterdam 2020

Kazuo Hara has always aligned himself with the political left, but it was nevertheless surprising to hear about his latest film, Reiwa Uprising, which depicts the ascent of Japan’s newest left-wing political party, Reiwa Shinsengumi, from grassroots agitators to seated parliamentarians during the 2019 election. It is not unusual for Hara, best known for Extreme Private Eros (1974) and The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On (1987), to take almost a decade or even longer between films, yet Reiwa Uprising follows Sennan Asbestos Disaster by just two years. That expedited time to completion was largely out of necessity: Reiwa Shinsengumi was […]

“Sometimes Directing is Not Saying Anything and Just Putting Vodka Shots in Front of People”: Luis López Carrasco on El Año del Descubrimiento at Rotterdam 2020

At a festival as big as the International Film Festival Rotterdam, early screenings are essentially shots in the dark. There is no buzz yet, and most films have little written about them or are by filmmakers whose previous works have received relatively little exposure. I opted on the second day to give Luis López Carrasco’s El Año del Descubrimiento a shot partly because I had heard of his previous feature, El Futuro, but mostly because its 200-minute runtime helped it to stand out amid a slate of films I knew next to nothing about. From the very beginning, its use […]

“Our Crew was Three People”: Slow Machine’s Paul Felten, Joe DeNardo and Stephanie Hayes at Rotterdam 2020

Kudos to the author of the unusually compelling copy for Slow Machine in the International Film Festival Rotterdam’s catalogue. The elephantine program, encompassing more than 500 films whose wild assortment of lengths, genres and formats defies any attempt at meaningful categorization (its four main sections this year were split into 23 subsections) is filled with gems, but offers scant assistance in discovering those not already on one’s radar. It’s a frustrating contradiction: Rotterdam takes rightful pride in offering a platform to smaller films by less established but adventurous and vigorously creative artists, yet so often they get buried in a […]