Walking according to Munch - Newspaper Kommersant No. 14 (7459) of 01/26/2023


The international festival in Rotterdam opened yesterday with the Norwegian film "Munch" and will last 12 days filled with world and European premieres. His program is commented Andrey Plakhov.

The peculiarity of this festival and its difference from other major European film screenings, in particular from the one held a few days later in Berlin, is in its fundamental orientation towards cinema that is far from the mainstream. It is not easy to formulate such a program, given the need to multiply and satisfy the public, but so far it has been possible with minimal compromises. Last year, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic, the festival was moved online, this year it will be held in the usual format in large cinema halls of the city.

Munch, the opening film, is directed by the Norwegian Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken in an experimental manner. The role of the famous artist, prone to anarchism, scandals, depressions and sexual adventures, is divided between several performers. So you can’t call Munch a traditional biopic.

Rotterdam appreciates intriguing, non-standard forms of cinematic storytelling. Take the Tiger Competition program, which is considered the most prestigious in the unofficial rankings. There was a time when this competition was reduced to 8 films, now it has grown to 16. Director Visakesha Chandrasekraram from Sri Lanka, in the film Go, traces the post-traumatic consciousness of the Tamil Tigers action movie. Mexican Naomi Uman, author of the film Three Sparks, offers a paradocumentary picture of the life of the Albanian village, where the patriarchy has put down its deepest roots. Siriel Rengu (The Ghost of Boko) depicts the paramilitary atmosphere of terror in which the inhabitants of the rural north of Cameroon live, including children.

Although today's conflicts are woven into many festival plots, they are by no means resolved in the form of political cinema. Rather, these are meditation films, travel films through the abandoned corners of civilization, but also through the wilds of the human soul. An example is the Iranian film "Numbness" by Amir Tudekhrust. As in the Cameroonian painting, children's and adult worlds collide here, reflected in each other, namely the Iranians are masters of this kind of allegories.

The Ukrainian film “Front Garden” by Philip Sotnichenko attracts increased interest. There are only two shots in this film, 25 years apart, and it forces us to capture the relationship between them." The first of the shots is fired at the moment of the last execution in Ukraine in 1996, when, according to the authors' commentary, the country "was in a stagnant post-Soviet continuum." In the tradition of Krzysztof Kieślowski's classic "Murder Short Film", "Front Garden" shows not only the barbarity of state-sanctioned murder, but also the corruption of police and judicial structures.

And in terms of form, Rotterdam films are far from traditional, rather reminiscent of installations or performances. And since the same installations themselves are presented in abundance in the city and the guest of Rotterdam begins to get acquainted with them right at the city station, a certain common space of contemporary art arises, into which cinema fits as an organic component. There is a special section Art Directions, where immersive installations and experiments with new media are collected. Among them is "Sunshine State" by Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen, a project commissioned by the festival in collaboration with the Boijmans-van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam.

As well as at the Berlinale, Rotterdam cannot do without Russian cinema. The film "One Little Night Secret" by Natalia Meshchaninova was selected for the Big Screen Competition. In the center of the plot is fourteen-year-old Mira. She has a mother, a father, a little sister, gifts for the New Year, a Christmas tree and a cat. Have a girlfriend. And the parents even let Mira go to her party. But she has one little night secret. Judging by this description, the film, the project of which is supported by the Hubert Bals Foundation affiliated with the festival, fits perfectly into the Rotterdam concept. Intimacy plays an important, if not a key role in it, especially inherent in the inner emotional world of teenagers.

The winner of the Big Screen Competition is determined by a vote of a five-person audience jury and receives support at the box office in the Netherlands. Another Russian film included in the festival program is DVA, a short film in the style of cyberpunk dystopia; it was filmed by Alexandra Karelina, a graduate of the Moscow School of New Cinema.



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