Young Selectors’ tips for IFFR 2021

02 February 2021

Still: Les Sorcières de l'Orient

Finding it difficult to pick a film? IFFR Young Selectors Arjun, Nica, Théotime and Zoë are giving you a helping hand. Besides organising their own programme and activities, these young Rotterdam film fanatics love to give you tips about IFFR’s online film programme. Which films are they looking forward to most? See below.

Drifting, Jun Li

Hong Kong’s homeless fight for their rights in the shadows of the high-rises. A politically committed look at a precarious existence.

Zoë: Drifting is about homeless people in Hong Kong that move from street corner to street corner. They get chased away by the cops and their stuff is thrown away. A social worker decides to take action and fights this in court. This film drew my attention because of the title. In Hong Kong there is a homelessness crisis going on, which is addressed in the film as a problem within society. I love films with these kinds of themes. The film also portrays the differences between the homeless people living under the bridge and the rich people that live in the high rises. Really looking forward to this film!”

Feast, Tim Leyendekker

Plato, dildos, an injected tulip: reconstruction of a troubling case by idiosyncratic cinephile and talent from Rotterdam, Tim Leyendekker.

Zoë: “I'm really looking forward to seeing Feast by Rotterdam-based filmmaker Tim Leyendekker. This film is the only Dutch film that has been nominated for a Tiger Award. Tim Leyendekker uses the 2008 HIV case in Groningen as a starting point for his film. The HIV case sees men purposely drugged and injected with contaminated blood at parties. It has a really sinister thing about it and based on true events. For that reason alone I have to see it.”

Bipolar, Queena Li

Chinese road movie with Western elements in crisp black-and-white about a woman, a lobster and a great sorrow.

Théotime: “In Queena Li’s first feature film, bipolarity goes way beyond the medical use of the term. In this visual tale, ‘bipolar’ refers to the opposite and driving forces of life and death, losing yourself and finding yourself. Our main protagonist is not named, she is everyone and no one at the same time. Describing herself as a pilgrim, she is rather a wanderer in a quest for meaning and resilience. Bipolar is a road movie based on the myth of Orpheus, a visual journey from a place from below to a place from above. In the myth, Orpheus travels to the underworld to find his lost loved one and bring her back to the world of the living. In Bipolar, our heroine encounters a lobster in the water tank of an hostel and decides to travel across China to bring the lobster back to the ocean. Through her journey, memories and visual hallucinations overlap with desolate landscapes.

La Nuit Des Rois, Philippe Lacôte

The power of storytelling underpins this stifling, inventive film from Côte d’Ivoire about life inside a gigantic prison.

Arjun: “In the La Maca prison, located in the outskirts of the Ivorian city of Abidjan, during a lunar eclipse, a new inmate had been selected to be the ‘Roman’. A storyteller to whom all the inmates listen to: “The moon has spoken. It’s red. Our master, Blackbeard, has given us a treat. He has chosen a new storyteller.” Whether the boy survives the night or not all hinges on if he can entertain the inmates with his story until sunrise. Philippe Lacôte has a history in radio and radio drama, so he clearly knows good storytelling. The protagonist, being given a life or death ultimatum and the inmates’ verdict being drawn out until the climax of the film, creates a feeling of  layered suspense that keeps you on the edge of your seat constantly – which is why this film is one of my picks this year.”

Les Sorcières de l’Orient, Julien Faraut

Volleyball like you’ve never seen it before. Playful documentary that combines fantastic anime with 1960s Japanese Olympic volleyball stars.

Nica: “They are known as the ‘The Witches of the Orient’: the Japanese women’s volleyball team who won Olympic gold at the 1964 Games in Tokyo. They started out as the team of a textile factory, winning victory after victory, and their record of 258 successive wins remains unbeaten to this day. I’m really excited to watch a documentary with different visual styles like manga and anime on top of current and past video footage. Normally sports or documentaries aren’t on top of my watchlist, but this one sounds super compelling. I can’t wait to see how some textile workers turned into the best volleybalsters in their time and ours.”

The North Wind, Renata Litvinova

The matriarchal Margarita struggles to keep the power over her family’s future after her son is hit by a tragedy.

Nica: “Margarita believes in the magical 13th hour that can break the eternal circle of repetition, defeat death and bring her much-awaited love. A romantic, baroque and Gothic fairy-tale that is full of fantastic characters, peculiar objects and exuberant clothes, as well as myriad oddities and surprises. Because I am a big fan of being completely immersed in another world, I am already looking forward to experiencing New Year's Eve in Margarita's family home. Fairytales have fascinated me since I was a little girl, and I bet this fairytale will give me a whole new perspective on the genre.”

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