Young Film Critics By Belinda van de Graaf

in 35th Rotterdam International Film Festival

by Belinda van de Graaf

At the 35th International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) three young critics were invited to the festival’s Trainee Project for Young Film Critics. For the 8th time the festival created this possibility for young and upcoming critics (under the age of 30) to get aquainted with the festival and the world of independent cinema. The trainees participated in the deliberations of the FIPRESCI jury and wrote about their experiences in the festival daily (the Daily Tiger). And for the first time they wrote about their adventures in a daily weblog that was specially created for them at the festival’s website:

As Adam Nayman (24) from Canada put it in one of his daily blogs: “I saw my favorite American film of the past 365 days, Kelly Reichardt’s Tiger-winning Old Joy. I sat at the same table as Hou Hisao-hsien and said a casual hello to Jia Zhang-ke, both of whom well entrenched on in the front ranks of Asian cinema. I re-watched Michael Haneke’s brilliant Caché, and discovered Bill Daniels’ lovely Who Is Bozo Texino? “

And Daniel Steinhart (28) from the US noted: “I’ve been averaging about four movies a day. One of the best tests of a film’s impact at a festival is the length of time that it sticks in the brain. One of the films I keep on replaying in my head is Andrew Bujalski’s Mutual Appreciation. As the lights went up after the screening, I turned to my colleague Adam and we quickly agreed that we’d seen the real deal: a film about young people that gets it right.”

For Pawel T. Felis (27) from Poland the real world suddenly entered his festival experience: “Unfortunately during the last days I couldn’t enjoy the festival as much as I wanted to. Saturday’s tragedy in Poland (the roof collapsed in Katowice and at least 67 persons died) broke me totally just as everyone in Poland. Some people from the festival asked me where Katowice is. And I answered: watch the first part of Ode To Joy (the Polish film in the Tiger Award Competition) titled ‘Silensia’. It was shot there and tells the story of people who live just there.”

As Adam, Daniel and Pawel were invited into the heated debates of the FIPRESCI jury as well, they will also offer their thoughts on the 35th International Film Festival Rotterdam to the FIPRESCI website. Here are their short biographies and the themes they will write about:

Pawel T. Felis (27) is writing for the ‘Gazeta Wyborcza’, the biggest daily newspaper in Poland and is collaborating to film magazines like the weekly ‘Przekroj’ and the monthly ‘Film’ (the Polish edition of Premiere). Pawel studied Polish Language and Literature at the University of Warsaw (Poland). Prior to Rotterdam he visited the festivals of Berlin and Cottbus, and a couple of film festivals in his homeland. Pawels favorite films in Rotterdam were Madeinusa by Claudia Llosa, Something Like Happiness by Bohdan Sláma, La Sagrada Familia by Sebastián Campos, Mary by Abel Ferrara and Into Great Silence by Philip Gröning. For the FIPRESCI website Pawel is pondering the theme ‘being a man, being a woman’, and for this he will concentrate on films from the Tiger Competition (La Perrera, Madeinusa, Ode to Joy, Glue, Un Jour d’Été and Walking on the Walk Side) and make comparisons to other films in the festival, made by young directors, like La Sagrada Familia, Me And You And Everyone We Know , Something Like Happiness and Johanna. He will include films from well-known masters as well: Bubble by Steven Soderbergh, Gabrielle by Patrice Chéreau, Lunacy by Jan Svankmajer and My Nikifor by Krzysztof Krauze.

Daniel Steinhart (28) is a freelance writer from the US. He is freelancing for a number of media publications, including the trade magazine ‘Film Journal International’. Daniel currently lives in Los Angeles, where he is is pursuing a master’s degree in film and media studies at UCLA. Prior to Rotterdam, he covered the New Directors/New Films Festival in New York and the Donostia-San Sebastian Film Festival in Spain. Daniels favorite films from the IFFR are The Death of Mister Lazarescu by Cristi Puiu, Tale of Cinema by Hong Sang-soo and Old Joy by Kelly Reichardt. One of his favorite festival moments: “having a drink in the Hotel Central with a colleague and three former trainees, who are now some of the best film writers in North America”. Daniel will write about the Hubert Bals Fund’s promotion of regional cinema and four Latin American festival films that were supported by the fund.

Adam Nayman (24) is a freelance writer from Canada. He completed a double major in English and Cinema Studies at the University of Toronto. Prior to Rotterdam he covered the Toronto International Film Festival for five years, and also two dozen other film festivals in Toronto, including ‘Hot Docs! Inside/Out’, ‘Rehab’, ‘Sprockets!’ and ‘World Wide Shorts’. Adams favorite films in Rotterdam were Old Joy by Kelly Reichardt, Who Is Bozo Texino? by Bill Daniels and Mutual Appreciation by Andrew Bujalski. His favorite festival experiences were sitting a few seats away from Hou Hsiao-hsien, discussing Tony Scott films with Austrian film critic Chrisoph Huber and the last-night Chinese food-feast with colleague Daniel Steinhart and the festival’s Bert-Jan, Gert-Jan, Anton and the volunteers. Adam will write about Kelly Reichards Old Joy, one of the Tiger Award winners.