Shady El-Hamus’ IFFR tips

What are festival insiders, tastemakers  and creatives most looking forward to at the upcoming edition of IFFR? We asked the director of De Libi, Shady El-Hamus.

Drama Girl
Vincent Boy Kars probes how he can fictionalise the life of fellow millennial Leyla – or is he making a documentary about drama?

“An interesting mix of doc and fiction from talented Dutch maker Vincent Boy Kars. He gets a young woman to re-enact her own story as fiction, supported by actors Jonas Smulders, Elsie de Brauw and Pierre Bokma, then reflects on this process with her in a documentary setting. Do you get it? A super-original idea that raises very interesting questions: Does making this film have a therapeutic effect on the main character? What does it do to her, ‘playing’ herself? Is there even such a thing as playing a role? In the meantime, the director asks questions about the medium of film and how we approach stories – what is the boundary between documentary and fiction? A daring, exciting project – not for nothing is this the only Dutch film in the Tiger Competition!”

Paradise Drifters
Raw road movie about three teens who only have each other. Heart-rending, intense acting from the young cast.

“Another highly talented maker from the Netherlands: Mees Peijnenburg. He’s already won a Golden Calf for his TV film Geen koningen in ons bloed and here he continues to explore the same themes. He has assembled a talented cast: Jonas Smulders, Bilal Wahib and a debut from Tamar van Waning, as well as top cameraman Jasper Wolf who broke through internationally with Monos. Paradise Drifters is a rough, realistic story of three lost young people looking for love in the underbelly of Europe. After Rotterdam, the film will go on to première in the Generation competition at the Berlinale. More proof that a very exciting, talented generation of Dutch makers is breaking through!”

Les misérables
Ladj Ly’s scintillating debut about the Parisian banlieue he grew up in. Things kick off on a provincial cop’s first day.

A film I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. This film won the jury award at Cannes last year and since then has scored successes at many festivals. Director Ladj Ly – who has Malian parents – grew up in the Banlieues of Paris and this portrait shows that, unfortunately, not much has changed there since 1995, when the French hit film La Haine first revealed how huge the gaps in French society were. And still are. In Les misérables – a great choice of title – we see a whole new generation of young people from the Banlieues who are still hardly seen or heard, and who are crying out for attention.

In Dakar, two young lovers have a star-crossed relationship. Fate may bring them together in this beautiful, darkly romantic tale.

Fiction feature debut by actress Mati Diop – the first black female director to be selected for the main competition in Cannes. Two lovers become separated when the boy leaves his love behind in Dakar to seek his fortune in Europe. A film that tells a tragic story we don’t often hear – about what happens on the other side of the Mediterranean. What do young people there dream of? How do they see Europe? What are they prepared to give up? A universal story of love and big dreams, in a painfully contemporary context.

The Lighthouse
Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe shine as lighthouse keepers in this 19th-century maritime nightmare by Robert Eggers.

I don’t know exactly why, but I’ve been obsessed for months with the trailer for this film. The black-and-white images, the atmosphere, the actors, the lighthouse – something touches me deeply in everything I see and hear, but I find it difficult to say exactly what. The starting point is brilliant: drop two top actors on an island and slowly watch them go insane. Director Robert Eggers comes from a horror background and here uses that experience mainly to build the atmosphere and make the psychology of the two men palpable. Don’t expect crazy special effects or endless shocks – but instead an insight into the deteriorating psyches of two men stuck on a remote island. Ten times more scary than a few shuffling zombies!

Photo in header: Filmmaker Shady El-Hamus