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A music buff’s roadmap to IFFR 2020

Boasting 600 individual creative works, and with music reverberating from every corner, there’s truly something for everyone in the IFFR 2020 programme. To help music buffs find their way, we’ve laid out a roadmap to uncovering the music highlights at this year’s festival.

Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra take on Crash
Howard Shore’s cinematic score to David Cronenberg’s 1996 cult thriller will be brought to life by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, led by conductor Mike Schäperclaus. This promises to be a tantalising live audio-visual experience not to be missed.

Rebel rebel with a feminist cause
Underground filmmaker Beth B presents an unruly tribute to provocative ’70s feminist punk icon Lydia Lunch with her documentary Lydia Lunch – The War Is Never Over. Don’t miss our Talk with Beth B & Lydia Lunch, in person or on live stream, and catch Lydia performing live in KINO

Courageous is an understatement for Bollywood singer Sona Mohapatra, who uses her spotlight to take on feminist issues in India. Witness the controversy and resistance Sona faces in Deepti Gupta’s Shut Up Sona, and don’t miss your chance to see this trailblazer perform live after the film’s Wednesday evening screening. 

Turning to rap as a feminist outlet, Park Jungbum’s coming-of-age film Not in This World tells the story of teenage Jisu who raps to defy the restraints of capitalism in South Korea.

Music documentaries for the ages 
Dive right into the heart of pop culture history with Rebel Dread, a documentary by William E. Badgley on renowned director, DJ and musician Don Letts. The film shows his life on the frontline, from injecting Afro-Caribbean music into the early London punk scene, to making a name for himself as videographer for The Clash and his present day BBC 6 radio show. 

Shift gears in Maxim Tomash’s Heel-to-toe to uncover how millennial Russian rapper Antoha MC battles contemporary political turmoil with a simple revolt: being happy.

Kamasi Washington’s artist collective The Ummah Chroma
The Ummah Chroma is an international artist collective made up of saxophonist and composer Kamasi Washington and filmmakers Terrance Nance, Jenn Nkiru, Marc Thomas and Bradford Young. The collective present the music-driven short film AS TOLD TO G/D THYSELF with accompanying participatory installation G/D THYSELF – a cosmic journey of sacred youth and meditations on raising Black children in freedom. Both works feature striking visuals, improvisational scores and tracks from Washington’s critically-acclaimed album Heaven and Earth (2018).

House, techno and synthwave take the screen
Reclaiming house music’s progressive history, Phil CollinsBring Down The Walls documents his school-slash-nightclub project that examines America’s prison system through the lens of a genre devout to freedom and unity. At a revamped Manhattan fire station, Collins recorded a benefit album of the same name, featuring the likes of Empress Of, Nguzunguzu and Honey Dijon.

In Black to Techno, Jenn Nkiru asserts techno, often overlooked as falling into the legacy of Black music, as a model for overcoming alienation and opposition. 

In a documentary about synthesizers, The Rise of the Synths, Iván Castell explores the revamped influence of ’80s inspired synthwave in music, soundtracks, scores and computer games.

More club nights, music videos, docs and visionary art
The future-facing among us should attend a screening of Lawrence Lek’s AI-minded feature AIDOL, while music video enthusiasts can delve into our For The Record triptych. Moving from heavy metal to melodic French pop, Bruno Dumont returns with his anticipated sequel Jeanne d’ArcCheck out the entire music documentary lineup in Scopitone, including Japanese Led Zeppelin cover bands and the life stories of Beverly Glenn-Copeland and Donny Hathaway.

For those looking for nocturnal audio-visual explorations, be sure to visit the sound//vision nights in WORM and check out the lineup for Club IFFR: nine nights of live performances and DJs in Theater Rotterdam Schouwburg, including a club night filled with sci-fi soundscapes by Soho Rezanejad and eccentric local heroes Karel and Meetsysteem. 

Photo in header: Still: Mr. Jimmy