All told i saw 32 films (not including shorts) this week at Rotterdam, but only a few stood out. Like any festival it could often be the result of your only selection process and considering the 21 screens screenings films in Rotterdam, that might very well be the case for me. Nevertheless here’s a brief list of some titles I caught at the festival that I hope will make their way to Seattle.
Ruhr- James Bennings’ first foray into video is nothing short of genius. Ruhr finds the master of the one shot pulling out all the stops,my personal favorite is the final nearly 30 minute image, a study in light as the sun sets over a coke factory, steam emits from above a smoke stack holding the eyes attention on the horizon. Small birds pass through the frame as the suns rays and their location in the sky change the color scheme. No other film displays the sun light’s magnificent work on our senses better than this.
Chaque jour est une fête – Lebanon has certainly shown us its cinematic strength in the last few years and Dima El-Horr’s Chaque jour est une fête is no exception. An evocative dream-like piece the film follows three women is riding in the same bus through Lebanon for a day’s journey towards the same destination: the men’s prison. A journey of a woman’s body through the desert, El-Horr masterfully choreographs our gaze through a landscape that is both absurd and beautiful.
Two in The Wave – Although occasionally too broad, this look back the friendship and falling out of two of cinema’s masters Godard and Truffaut is a wonderful trip through one of cinema’s most vibrant eras. Punctuated periodically by the presence of French actress Islid Lebresco who sifts through images, articles, and letters, Emmanuel Laurent’s film is far from definitive, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Inferno – Another look back at cinema’s past, Serge Bromberg uncovers a splendid treasure of outtakes from Henri-Georges Cluzot’s uncompleted feature. Easily some of the sexiest images ever taking of the luscious Romy Schneider, the film is worth viewing for that alone. As a cautionary tale of what happens when a director has too much control and too much money to burn, Inferno should be viewed by everyone in Hollywood. Bromberg’s only misstep was casting contemporary actors to perform much of the un-shot sequences dialogue, a device that added nothing to this otherwise wonderful work.
El Camino Entre Dos Puntos – Video artist Sebastian Diaz Morales makes his feature bow with this nearly wordless investigation into Patagonia’s tainted nature. Following a ruggedly handsome Jose Soraide from the city into the desert, Diaz Morales’ film gives us a portrait of isolation in images that will surely haunt my dreams for weeks to come.
Hiroshima – Not as good as the others, but worth mentioning is Pablo Stoll’s fist solo work, an absurdist traverse of the mundane day of a slacker. The film features one of the best soundtracks of the year.
Now onto Berlin whose Forum line-up looks outstanding. More from the road soon.