Rotterdam 2019: Heads-Ups And Recommendations
The International Film Festival Rotterdam opens its 2019 edition today, meaning that for a week-and-a-half, my home town will be mostly dedicated to films. The yearly fest is the largest cultural event in the Netherland in ticket sales, and tens of thousands of visitors will brave the bad weather (and slippery sidewalks - always good for a few victims each year...) to see their share of International cinema.
What sets the festival apart from similar ones is the dedication to finding new talent. While the occasional glamorous premiere happens, they are rare, as the Berlinale a few weeks later is a far more popular event for stars. In Rotterdam, you're more likely to see debut films and meet obscure arthouse heroes.
This year it's not different: of the 236 feature films (and over 250 shorts) in the programme, many are world premieres from debuting directors. Even the festival's award, the Tiger, can only be won by a film which is the first, second or third effort by its makers.
This focus on relative unknowns and newcomers also makes it hard to pick a schedule beforehand, as you sometimes have absolutely no clue what to base your choice on.
But not all gems are so hidden. Several have played at other festivals, or have otherwise been covered on our site already, so here is a short list of things to look forward to in the next ten days!
Zhang Yimou's latest film is a new martial arts re-telling of the epic War of the Three Kingdoms, this time heavily featuring the famous people's body-doubles, called "shadows".
The film's special effects supervisor Samsong Wong is present at the festival and will give a masterclass about the many effects used in the film.