43rd International Film Festival Rotterdam
Netherlands, January 22 - February 2 2014
Blagoja Kunovski (Macedonia), Maria Fosheim Lund (Norway), Guilhem Caillard (Canada), Alberto Castellano (Italy), Sasja Koetsier (The Netherlands)
The Songs Of Rice by
(Thailand, 2014, 75 mins)
Among the great global family of film festivals, the one in Rotterdam holds a unique position, as well as a mission to support and promote new films, and to discover new talents from a new generation of filmmakers. At this year’s 43rd edition (January 22nd to February 2nd, 2014), Rotterdam became the world’s independent film capital and, I’d add to this, a symbolic Mecca and Medina for a generation of young filmmakers. Its total dedication to uphold the creativity of both screenwriters and directors is evident from the existence of two very important festival institutions: Hubert Bals Fund and CineMart. Created by the Rotterdam festival and part of its structure, complementing the festival itself, this creates connectivity. The 43rd edition of Rotterdam Festival marked the 25th anniversary of the Hubert Blas Fund, and the festival paid great tribute to its history. To date, the Fund has supported more than 1000 film projects worldwide, mostly from Africa, Asia, Latin America as well as some parts of South-Eastern Europe (the ex-communist countries), offering talented filmmakers assistance in realizing innovative, important feature films with artistic and creative variety. For this year’s IFFR, Hubert Bals Fund selected 14 film projects to receive grants for post-production and for script and project development. In its Fall 2013 selection round, the Fund gave 161,700 Euros to projects from nine countries spanning Asia, South Eastern Europe, Latin American and Africa. The selection was made from a total of 464 applications, the highest number to date.
IFFR’s co-production market CineMart held its 31st edition January 26-29. 2014, presenting a new selection of twenty-five film projects. Among them were high-profile independent filmmakers including; Peter Weber, Alessandro Comodin, Eran Kolirin and Naomi Kawase. That is why the IFFR is proud: once unknown filmmakers can be discovered at this festival, Naomi Kawase an example par excellence as her first feature Suzaku was selected for the Tiger Awards Competition in 1997 and awarded the FIPRESCI Prize. Previous works by many now acclaimed directors have been premiered in IFFR’s Hivos Tiger Awards Competition, and many were back to present their new projects at CineMart.
This year, as prelude to the European elections, IFFR has focused on European Cinema, offering a series of reflections on Europe and a platform for discussion on its future in its multi-strand Signal/Symbol: “The State of Europe”. To quote part of the festival director, Rutger Wolfson’s statement: “The historical project of the European unification has lost much of its luster…politicians seem unable to convey a convincing alternative future perspective and many citizens are angry, disillusioned or have lost interest completely”. In addition, he adds: “Film can make European identity and ideas visible and recognizable for large audience… with three thematic film programs, IFFR explores different topics relevant in Europe today, such as: immigration, cultural identity and personal living conditions. Together they give an insight into what unites and what divides Europe. In doing so, IFFR aims [to] look [for] answers and future perspective(s), together with filmmakers and the audience, there where politics seem to fail.”
In the general program, The 43rd IFFR’s Official Selection included some 220 feature and documentaries as well as 320 shorts selected from sixty countries. Traditional Main Competitions were: The Hivos Tiger Award Competition; the first and second features comprised of fifteen films and the Tiger Awards Competition composed of twenty-four short films. The five members of the International Jury under the presidency of Palestinian director EIia Suleimani, awarded the following three feature films with the Hivos Tiger Awards ex-aequo including 15,000 Euros, each: Anatomy of a Paper Clip (Yamamori clip kuojo no Atari, Ikeda Akira, Japan, 2013); Something Must Break (Nanting maste ga sonder, Ester Martin Bergsmark, Sweden, 2014) and Nang Gong Ju (Lee Su-Jin, South Korea, 2013).
The FIPRESCI Jury judged the films from the parallel program BRIGHT FUTURE. In all the programme consisted of a record sixty-three films, and for the FIPRESCI Prize the selection saw one third of the twenty-two films have their world premiere at IFFR , with the balance coming from Europe and the rest of the world. The FIPRESCI Prize went to The Songs of Rice (Pleng khong kao, Uruphong Raksasad, Thailand, 2014). (Blagoja Kunovski)
International Film Festival Rotterdam: www.iffr.com/en