44 International Rotterdam Film Festival 2015, IFFR 2015
by Sherif Awad
In its 44th edition, the International Film Festival of Rotterdam (IFFR) actively continue to support independent filmmaking from around the globe with its funds and screenings since it has become one of the most recognized cinema platform in Europe in launching new films and rising talents. The festival's Tiger Awards Competitions, Bright Future and Spectrum sections contain recent work only, among which many world premieres. In its Signals section, IFFR presents retrospectives and themed programs. In its 2014 edition, IFFR scored 287,000 admissions and ticket sales and received in its two weeks running period around 2,400 film professionals. The festival's Official Selection includes some 220 feature films and 320 short films out of 60 countries. Arriving in the last week of the festival need fast adaptation to the weather and the crowded film schedules.
South Korean writer-director Jung-bum Park, Tiger Award-winner for his 2010’ Journals of Musan, returns to Rotterdam this year with an impressive and challenging story about poverty, inequality and human suffering in today’s South Korea. Park also plays the leading role himself, as a toiling worker trying to wrest himself free of his fate without giving up his humanity. He is Jeong-Cheol, a building laborer in the mountainous province of Gangwon who is taking care of his niece and his mentally unstable sister. He sets to work at a failing farm where soya-bean curd is made, but the bitter winter starts to take its toll and a fungus hits the fermented soya.. Despair is juxtaposed with moments of well-chosen surrealism, captured in beautifully choreographed shots. And somewhere, the possibility of a friendly gesture lurks.
In Becoming Anita Ekberg, US filmmaker Mark Rappaport pays a video art tribute to Swedish bombshell Anita Ekberg who passed away in Italy January 11. Rappaport reconstructed some of Elberg most memorable scenes in La Dolce Vita and her successive films in the 1960s.
The Swiss duo Stéphanie Barbey and Luc Peter travelled to the US-Mexican border to film Broken Land, a documentary that shows how sacred this location is for many of the Americans based there. Interviews made by the two filmmakers show how the residents who live in constant fear of the other furiously guard the borders with high fence and electronic camera in order to prevent illegal migration. High metal poles form the boundary between Mexico and the United States. Even cats can’t pass between them, and climbing over is virtually impossible. Those fences are both physical and ideological.
Polish filmmaker Marcin Dudziak presented his latest film Calling about a Father and his young son who went on a journey on boat but end up in fear of isolation. Gradually, the relationship between the two starts to change: the lonely stay in nature offers the boy a new perspective on himself and his father.
From Portugal comes Horse Money by Pedro Costa in which the director follows the character of Ventura who has Parkinson’s disease that affects his memory. Ventura remembers, more or less, that he grew up in Cape Verde and left for Lisbon as a young man, where he embarked on a poverty-stricken existence as a bricklayer