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Sacha Polak tips IFFR

07 June 2021

Sacha Polak

What are festival insiders, tastemakers and creatives most looking forward to during IFFR 2021? What films are marked in their agendas? We asked filmmaker Sacha Polak about her personal highlights.

If you were at IFFR two years ago, chances are you watched Dirty God, the opening film and English-language debut from Sacha Polak. It was the kick-off to a year full of wins: Dirty God was the first Dutch film to enter Sundance’s main competition, and it won three Gouden Kalveren at the Nederlands Film Festival. Before that, Polak made two feature films and, in 2014, the highly personal documentary Nieuwe Tieten. The common theme throughout all her films: the power of women, in any form.

This year, Polak is part of the IFFR audience. We asked her: which do we have to watch during this June edition?

A man and a camera, Guido Hendrikx 
Mysterious road movie knocking on Dutch front doors, investigating the everyday and putting tolerance to the test: “What's this all about?”

“Such a tense film! I was on the edge of my seat waiting for the filmmaker to get a slap in the face. I found it fascinating to see how people react to a man with a camera who just says nothing. Would you be scared, aggressive or friendly? I thought some of the characters in the film were really disarming.”

The Blue Danube, Ikeda Akira
The Japanese soldiers don’t know why they shoot at the village across the river. Orders are orders.

“An absurdist film about a war that no one remembers why it ever started. Each frame was chosen with care and humour. A Japanese Roy Andersson.”

Como el cielo después de llover, Mercedes Gaviria 
A making-of turns into a documentary about the troublesome relationship between a star auteur father and his neophyte director daughter.

“This film touched me personally and was full of recognition because it’s about the daughter of a Colombian filmmaker, Victor Gaviria. It’s a familiar situation for me, as I myself grew up in a family of filmmakers. Together with her father, Mercedes is working on his latest film La mujer del animal. Como el cielo después de llover is a personal essay about what it’s like to be a filmmaker in your father’s shadow, with fragments of her mother's diary mixed with voice-overs and home videos from the past.”

Nudo Mixteco, Ángeles Cruz 
Three Mexican migrant workers return to the village of their birth, where confrontation with their families forces them to make a choice.

“My boyfriend said at the start of the film that he was absolutely sure it was made by a woman. I asked if this was bad. He said it wasn’t a film for him, because it was about women with women’s issues. While Nudo Mixteco was indeed made by a native Mexican female director, it follows not just women but three intertwined lives of different people. Maria returns to the village to bury her mother, while her father rejects her because of her lesbian relationship. Tona comes to rescue her daughter, and Esteban wants his wife back after working for years in the United States. Filmmaker Ángeles Cruz worked with a mix of actors and people from the village, which gives the whole film an authentic atmosphere.”

BERG, Joke Olthaar 
The sensation of being overwhelmed by nature shot in aesthetic black and white. With an undercurrent of spiritual connectedness.

“This is a film for people who love mountains. An aesthetic experience of landscapes, I almost fell into a trance while watching BERG. Beautiful black-and-white images with a poetic voice-over and music by Rutger Zuydervelt, aka Machinefabriek!”

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