Overview: A Bit of a Melodramatic Tiger

in 38th Rotterdam International Film Festival

by Ashok Rane

The films which were selected for the VPRO Tiger awards at the International Film festival Rotterdam were more or less melodramatic. Film buffs at large observed that this year the Tiger was a bit emotional too. Nothing wrong, as the Tiger also caught some innovative, laudable experimental stuff too. Though melodramas dominated a bit it was a good mixture of films of various genres and that’s what made the difference. And the most important part of the competition films is that they were either debut or second films of the director and almost all were well made films worth watching in the competition section of any prestigious international film festival.

Among 14 films which were competing for the Tiger Award, six were from Asia and three out of which, Be Calm and Count to Seven (Iran, by Ramtin Lavafipour), Breathless (Ddongpari, South Korea, by Yang Ik-June) and Wrong Rosary (Uzak ihtimal, Turkey, by Mahmut Fazil Coskun) succeeded in grabbing the Tiger Award. All three got 15,000 Euros each, along with a trophy.

Be Calm and Count to Seven, a debut film about people from a southern island off Iran, who make a living by smuggling and are always on the run, were immensely realistic with some excellent cinematic expression. Breathless, for me, is a kind of made-to-order film to suit the image of the hero and is both conventional in content and form as well. Wrong Rosary was the most mature film among all. Breathless, very simple, subtle and was unique in dealing inhibitions of all three major characters leading the story to an unconventional climax.

Floating in Memory (China, by Peng Tao) and The Dark Harbour (Futoko, Japan, by Naito Takatsugu) were purely melodramatic but at the same time proved innovative at certain points. While the former was focusing on the harsh and disturbing reality of urban life, the latter treated melodrama with the element of subtle humor. Be Good (France/Denmark, by Juliette Garcias) is about a girl who comes up with all kinds of dubious stories about her relationship with others. At West of Pluto (Canada, by Henry Bermadet) about a day in the life of teenagers, was at some level in the style of a documentary and stylised but very effective in bringing out its innovative storyline. Tourists (Turistas, Chile, by Alicia Scherson) is about Carla, who after a broken relationship with her husband, goes wandering in the woods and finds out that the laws of nature can be just as confusing as those of the urban life.

Schottentor (Austria, by Casper Pfaundler) dealt with the desire to be oneself, and not to be lost in anonymous mediocrity. It achieved uniqueness in its narrative style and also in its treatment which made it a very significant film.