Sunday, February 11, 2007

IFFR - Wrap Up

I left Rotterdam last week Saturday, stayed a night in Brussels on Saturday night so that I could take my bright and early Sunday morning flight out of Brussels on Sunday. I got back to Seattle on Sunday night (after a 6 hour layover in New York where I went to visit my buddy Phil Campbell, who I will certainly write more about later because the book he wrote while in Seattle just got optioned to be made into a movie). Monday I spent doing laundry and getting ready to jump on a ferry bright and early the next morning so I could head to Vashon Island to work on an indie film called Perfect Sport. Or maybe it's The Perfect Sport. I gotta check on that. It's a high school wrestling movie, and it's part of my busy, busy schedule.


I wanted to say a few things about Rotterdam before putting it behind me. First, I had a great time. The staff was friendly and helpful (I had a lot of questions early on), and met some fun filmmakers. First I want to give a shout-out to Blue and Laura Kraning. Blue made a doc about the fans who entered a contest for cannon owners who wanted to help blast Hunter S. Thompson's ashes at his funeral/wake. Laura made an observational doc about the people along the rainiest Rose Bowl parade route ever. Then we went out drinking a couple of nights in a row (after my requisite four movies/day, of course). They are good people.

I also met Nina Davenport, who won the Dutch film critics award for her movie Operation Filmmaker. After actor/director Liev Schreiber sees an MTV report about an Iraqi kid who just wants to make movies but his film school got bombed, he decides to give him a Production Assistant job on his feature film Everything Is Illuminated. Davenport was hired for a week to shoot the happy scene, but she got sucked into the bigger picture. As it turns out, the movie becomes more about adolescence and entitlement, as the young man takes every opportunity for granted and uses favors from his new friends to get visa extensions and more.

Another guy whose company I enjoyed was Spanish filmmaker Albert Serra, whose movie Honor de cavalleria explores the pages between the grand adventures of Don Quixote, when he and Sancho Panza are traveling from one spot to another or just waiting to go to bed. It's a peaceful and painterly kind of movie (which is another way to say that this is not an action film), and it turns out to be more about Sancho than Quixote, which is nice. Serra himself is not a bashful man, happily saying his movie is the best Spanish film of the last 25 years. He is a funny and confident man, and I know he believes every one of his own exaggerations.

Then there were the short filmmakers I met, including director David Garrett and producer Kaer Vanice for the short film Warlord, which is a charming, post-apocalyptic look back at a boy rebelling against his mother's attempts to kill him with fast food and consumer culture, and how he formed an army of neighborhood children for the sake of survival. Fun and over the top.

Oh, and another shout-out to Henk and Emile, who ran the cell phone short film challenge. Also to Robert and Jessica, who made the short film Forgetting Betty, and who were always pleasant company at every festival event I saw them at.


Before I close the book on this year's Rotterdam festival, I want to throw out a couple of tips to other people who may be festival hopping in the near future, be they filmmakers or film programmers or film critics or just plain film lovers on a budget. Actually, I'VE ONLY GOT ONE TIP: If you can find a hotel that includes breakfast, then book that room because you can always make little sandwiches to take with you for lunch. That way you save time and money! Of course, I didn't see the little sign in my hotel's breakfast nook that said "Do not take food out of the breakfast nook" until the last day, so I guess they were on to the likes of me, but I was sneaky every time anyway. Be sneaky and have fun.

Finally, I'll leave you with the titles of a few of my favorites from the 31 films I saw in a little more than a week at Rotterdam: Rescue Dawn, Zidane-un portrait du 21e si├Ęcle, Le prestige de la Mort, One Way Boogie Woogie/27 Years Later, and I also liked the Guy Maddin-stylings of La antena.