Every year in late January and early February, Rotterdam becomes the place to be for film fanatics from all over the world. The International Film Festival Rotterdam (shortened to IFFR) is the place where world premieres take place, where people can experience films they otherwise never had watched, where directors meet their audiences face-to-face and where you can dive into surprising, touching and enchanting films from all over the world.
When Boyfriend and I first started dating, we went to IFFR together, where we watched the French film “Eden” (yes, we picked that one on purpose) and “Laggies”, starring Keira Knightley and Chloë Grace Moretz. We loved it so much that we decided, there and then, that we would visit IFFR every year.
// “The Model” (2016)
Director: Mads Matthiesen
Cast: Ed Skrein, Maria Palm, Dominic Alburn
The first film we saw was a world premiere, “The Model”. The film was screened as part of the IFFR Live program, which screens films simultaneously in various cities. The idea is that audiences from all over the world can experience the same film at the same time, while being so far apart.
“The Model” follows the story of 16-year-old Emma, who has always dreamt of being a professional model. When she is invited to move from Denmark to Paris, it seems like her dream might just come true. But as soon as Emma arrives in Paris and dives into the fashion scene, she realises that it might not be everything she always dreamed of. As young Emma falls in love with an older photographer and falls deeper into the rabbit hole of fashion, she starts to unravel. And with her, the film. The shots are dream-like sequences, like they aren’t really true, while the music is vast and intrusive, which adds to the concept of Emma losing control.
My advice is that the people who enjoyed Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan” (starring Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis) also watch “The Model”, as I believe the films deal with similar themes – mental health, the dark side of a seemingly glamorous world and sexual awakening.
// “Heart of a Dog” (2015)
Director: Laurie Anderson
Cast: a whole lot of puppies
The second film we watched instantly became my personal favourite: “Heart of a Dog”. “Film” doesn’t begin to cover what this piece of art truly is, as it is a swirl of poetry, visual art, photography and music. The combination of all these particles result in an incredibly touching, philosophical and, at times, funny work of art.
Laurie Anderson, artist and wife of the late Lou Reed, directed, wrote and scored “Heart of a Dog”. As Anderson noted right before the start of the film, the film “isn’t just about me and my dog” – it’s about the way we tell stories, about how they get distorted over times, about the government collecting our stories, but to what end? Anderson tells the story about her rat terrier, called Lolabelle, the story of how after 9/11 people realised they could also be attacked from above, the story of how her mother died and the story of how Anderson almost killed her twin brothers.
// “This Summer Feeling” (2015)
Director: Mikhaël Hers
Cast: Anders Danielsen Lie, Judith Chemla, Marie Rivière
We finished our day with a lighter-themed film, called “This Summer Feeling”. As the title already suggests, the film deals with that unescapable feeling you only get in summer in a very understated and precious manner. The film is split into three parts, the first being Summer in Berlin, where Lawrence’s girlfriend Sasha mysteriously dies. Heartbroken, he is left to spend a lonely Summer in the German capital. The second part takes place in Paris, where Lawrence meets up with his former sister-in-law, Zoé. They circle around each other, pushing each other away and pulling each other close. In the third part Zoé comes to visit Lawrence in New York – but what happens to their relationship as she does?
“This Summer Feeling” was the perfect way to end the day. The film was slow, sultry and sensual, with subtle bursts of humor. It tells a very realistic story, an ordinary story – the story of people like you and me. Despite that fact, the film was still very captivating and left the audience wondering about their Summer memories.
IFFR is a wonderful festival to discover new films, to surround yourself with new stories and experiences. Do you want to go? The festival is still screening films from all over the world until this Sunday, February 7.