31.January.2012: As the International Film Festival Rotterdam heads into its second week, the first set of Tiger Awards (for short film) have been announced. The three winners are Japanese experimental filmmaker Makino Takashi, for Generator (“An explosive, pulsating experience of an environment on the brink of disaster”), Dutch director Jeroen Eisinga’s Springtime (“A monumental and transfixing cinematic portrait created out of a fearless performance etched in buzzing bees and 35mm grain”), and Mati Diop’s Big in Vietnam (“Raw, defiant and elliptical”). Big in Vietnam is Diop’s second Tiger win following 2010’s Atlantiques, but Fandor audiences may be more familiar with the young talent for her starring role in Claire Denis’s 35 Shots of Rum.
For the House Next Door, Aaron Cutler writes about “The Mouth of Garbage,” a pulpy Signals retrospective of Brazilian films born out of the Boca do Lixo red light district: “In the 1960s, a branch of Brazilian cinema emerged so daring, thrilling, and varied that in hindsight people disagreed even over what to call it. For critic-filmmaker Jairo Ferreira, who chronicled the movement, its unconventional narratives and formal audacity made it the ‘cinema of invention’; for filmmaker-critic Glauber Rocha, briefly a member but chiefly part of the rival Cinema Novo movement, its films were ‘udigrudi,’ a Brazilian spin on the American underground. The consensus term, finally, was Cinema Marginal, and though many of the movement’s titles were censored by Brazil’s military dictatorship, it meant marginal and not marginalized.” He hones in on two of the titles that have played Rotterdam, The Red Light Bandit and The Option.
Mark Adams enjoyed Rotterdam opener 38 Witnesses, the latest from Rapt director Lucas Belvaux: “The story is based on the 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese and the subsequent anger around the fact that 38 people who witnessed the crime failed to intervene or even call the police. In the hand of Belvaux 38 Witnesses is more moral maze than police procedural, with characters kept an arm’s length until the film’s closing section.”
New Yorker critic Richard Brody draws attention to Dialogues sur le cinéma, a French publication collecting two public dialogues between French directors Jean-Luc Godard and Marcel Ophüls: “It’s no surprise that when two of the great directors talk, fascinating and important ideas emerge; the surprise is in the specifics of their discussion; not least, their plans to work together on a film.”
Finally, those concerned for the future of art house exhibition will want to check out David Bordwell’s characteristically astute, well-researched blog post, “Pandora’s Digital Box: Art House, Smart House.” Bordwell offers a sober assessment of the difficulties independent theaters are experiencing transitioning to digital projection, but his experience at the Art House Convergence left him optimistic: “If you wonder where old-fashioned movie showmanship went, look here.”