International Film Festival Rotterdam
24 January - 4 February 2018
Review by Laurence Scherz
The International Film Festival Rotterdam 2018, now in its 47th edition, flirts with the boundaries of art and film throughout the city. The Amodo Tiger Short Competition displayed young and interesting short filmmakers as elsewhere in the city were installations by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Nicolas Provost in the Frameworks programme as well as concurrent exhibitions at TENT, V2 and Het Nieuwe Instituut.
Nicolas Provost’s large-scale projection, ‘Plot Point’ (2007), was filmed in New York and parallels the busy and slightly unwelcoming feel of Rotterdam’s central station. It centers around the everyday life of NYC police officers, tracking the trials and tribulations of the never-ending job, highlighting their, at times, overlooked humanity.
Highlights from the Amodo Tiger Short Competition are Rijks Academy graduate Monira al Qadiri’s ‘The Craft’ (2018), artist Hiwa K with his ‘View from Above’ (2018), shown at Documenta 14 last year and the most recent film by Isabelle Tollenaere, ‘The Remembered Film’ (2018). In it, slightly acting British boys dress up in historic war costumes for a reenactment festival. Tollenaere makes them tell a fictitious story of combat experience and asks them to recall their favorite film battle scene. Another strong film, this time from the Bright Future Short program was ‘What the Sun Has Seen’ (2017) by Agnieszka Polska, winner of last year’s Preis der Nationalgalerie. Originally shown in a minimalistic installation at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, the film depicts a talking, 3D-animated sun with big endearing eyes talking in a collision of poetics and scientific terminology.
Artur Zmijewski’s ‘Realism’ (2017) at LP2 makes full use of his characteristic uncomfortable imagery of the body image. In ‘SLEEPCINEMAHOTEL’ (2018), from well-known Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul, an immersive installation / hotel advertised with “fall asleep amongst moving images” immediately perks the viewer’s interest and sets the bar high for expectation. Even though Apichatpong’s films are deliberately designed to put their viewer to sleep, the installation layout, consisting of bunk beds constellated around a circle-shaped series of projections. The projected footage comes from the EYE film museum archive, ranging from drone landscape shots to sleeping animals and people. Spending the night in one of the beds with zero privacy costs about 75 euros, but for that you will never see the same image twice.
The emphasis on film within the greater viewing experience of an immersive installation seems common place at this year’s festival. At the Het Nieuwe Instituut, ‘The Eyeslicer’, shows snippets of popular culture by young American filmmakers capitalizing on this formula. But, it does prove to be difficult and, at times, underwhelming, adding nothing to the often beautifully composed and fascinating storylines. At the very least though, this offers us an insight into the future of the synthesis between cinema and fine art.