Young, innovative, original

Written by Ronald Rovers

The Bright Future programme captures IFFR’s essence: a platform for raw, up-and-coming new talent.

A spiritual slasher is how young Brazilian filmmaker Ramon Porto Mota aptly describes his feature film debut A noite amarela. The story revolves around a group of late-teen friends on the cusp of maturity, holidaying together, perhaps for the final time. It's a slasher, but there's no blood nor a lurking murderer. Behind them lies youth, before them the darkness of an unknown future. Porto Mota has taken two familiar genres – the slasher and the coming-of-age film – and given them a fresh, highly personal, twist.

This is precisely the sort of film Bright Future has loved presenting to the world since the programme started in 2009. Films by young, innovative new filmmakers with an original outlook and the skill to allow us to see through their eyes. This time around, the Bright Future Main Programme will present 47 films, 19 of which are world premieres. The section as a whole not only comprises IFFR's flagship Tiger Competition and Ammodo Tiger Short Competition, but also the short and mid-length productions of the Bright Future Short and Bright Future Mid-length. Moreover world premieres and international premieres compete for the Bright Future Award of 10,000 euros.

A truly exciting, adventurous programme. Not just because this is many of the filmmakers first time on an international stage and the audience doesn't know what to expect yet, but mainly because these films have an outspoken visual style. Two years ago we had the pleasure of discovering the dreamy Kaili Blues by self-taught Chinese filmmaker Bi Gan, an extremely talented director with an incomparable style. This year he returns with the noirish Long Day's Journey into Night that includes a 59-minute 3D shot filmed in a single take. In his previous film, the single take only lasted 41 minutes. And with Bi Gan these shots aren’t gimmicks, but are essential to the story.

  • Still from A noite amarela

  • Still from Long Day's Journey Into Night

  • Still from Manta Ray

  • Still from The Man Who Surprised Everyone

  • Still from Nocturne

Bright Future presents films from across the globe and that includes the Netherlands. Viktor van der Valk’s Nocturne – ‘a search for a film’ in the director's own words – is a feverish trip-noir about a director trying to get a grip on his own film. It's loud. It's meta. It's nocturnal.

What sets this generation of Bright Future filmmakers apart is their ability to find new ways of examining old wounds. Manta Ray uses magical-realism to highlight the drama surrounding Rohingya refugees on the Thai-Myanmar border. The Man Who Surprised Everyone puts a spin on an old Siberian folk tale to talk about transgenders. In Historia de mi nombre the director searches for the origins of her name as a means of investigating the Chilean dictatorship under Pinochet.

These are simultaneously highly personal and cosmopolitan stories. Intimate views and huge vistas. And, as always in Bright Future, the camera comes first. Because first there was the image.

Bright Future on IFFR Unleashed

You can find many Bright Future titles from previous festival editions on IFFR Unleashed. Among them, you’ll find 2017 Bright Future Award winner Mes nuits feront écho by Sophie Goyette, whose new co-directed film The Seven Last Words will be screening this year. In the Tiger Award Winner collection, you’ll find both short and feature films which took the main prize home from Rotterdam. You can also find an additional Bright Future Short-programme, composed of earlier work by filmmakers who are screening their new film at the 2019 festival edition.