Every new year gets kicked off with the arrival of the International Film Festival in Rotterdam (IFFR). In January and February, the city gets transformed into a harbor for independent, international, and provocative film screenings. This 12 day film festival draws in film lovers, journalists and film makers from all over the world, turning the city of Rotterdam into a fascinating mixture of film, art and critical creativity.
At IFFR 2017, the program was once more very very diverse. The film festival really succeeds in creating a program with a mixture of more popular features and more experimental and unknown films. This mixture is the perfect setting for a film festival where the audiences can just sit back and relax while watching an entertaining film or be more critical of the controversies shown through film. Besides watching films, festival audiences can also visit events such as debates, lectures, live performances and talkshows. In short, there’s something for everyone interested in film, from high school students to seniors.
What is great about IFFR, is that you can taste the festival atmosphere all throughout the Rotterdam city centre. When you exit the central station, you are immediately greeted by a pop-up film theatre in the middle of the station, and outside on the square, a gigantic air balloon represents ‘planet IFFR’ – the film festival encompasses films and ideas from all over the world. In all the cinemas and theaters across town, you can go watch films or partake in debates, talkshows or lectures. Most shops and cafés in the city centre have decorated their shop windows with the IFFR tiger and film posters; some cafés and restaurants even offer special IFFR menus, which is great if you want to combine dinner with a film at the festival.
This year was the third time in a row Boyfriend and me went to IFFR and it truly has become a little tradition of ours. Previous years we took out an entire day and watched a couple of films in a row. At the end of the day we would be nauseous (because of all the popcorn we ate), tired (because watching three films in a row is surprisingly tiring) but very happy (because it’s just a lot of fun and inspiring to watch films you normally would have gotten the opportunity to see). This year, we only managed to go and watch 1 film at the festival, the beautiful and intriguing “Porto” (2016).
// “Porto” (2016) film review
“Porto” follows the love story of Jake (Anton Yelchin) and Mati (Lucie Lucas), two complete strangers who meet by accident and lose themselves in an immediate attraction to each other. The film is the first feature from directer Gabe Klinger and you really notice his documentary background as you zoom in on the story of Jake and Mati. At the centre of the film are the great performances by main actors Anton Yelchin and Lucie Lucas. The two have an amazing, almost toxic, chemistry, which sparks in front of the camera and in the theater.
The film has a relatively simple storyline, of two strangers sharing a sensual and intense nights, but it features very complicated characters and intricate relationships between them. This combination, this mixture of both worlds, makes “Porto” an interesting and intriguing watch. The plot and the characters are set against the hot, exotic and mysterious background of Porto, which makes the film not only very compelling, but also very relaxing and entertaining to watch. For just a little while, you feel like you’re on a holiday in a beautiful city, witnessing a moment between two strangers you’re not really supposed to see.
Part of what makes “Porto” such an interesting watch is the non-chronological storytelling of the film. The love story between Jake and Mati is not told in the correct order, with them first meeting, then going for dinner and finally ending up in her apartment, but all mixed together and presented in different orders. This non-chronology fits really well with the love story at the centre of the film, as it mirrors reality, dreams and memories nearly perfectly.
In short, IFFR is a great festival to visit if you’re interested in out-of-the-box films, critical discussions and entertaining features. It’s a festival that will entertain, creatively challenge and critically inspire you.