About IFFR –

International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) offers a high quality line-up of carefully selected fiction and documentary feature films, short films and media art. The festival’s focus is on recent work by talented new filmmakers. However, within the four sections the Festival presents, there is also room for retrospectives and themed programmes. IFFR actively supports new and adventurous film making talent through its co-production market CineMart, its Hubert Bals FundRotterdam Lab and other industry activities.

IFFR 2019 Line – Up

The International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019 starts from 23rd January to 3rd February, 2019. Two films from our country will be screened at the upcoming festival, namely ‘Dengue’ directed by Prantik Basu in the VOICES Programme and ‘Widow of Silence’ directed by Praveen Morchhale.

The following list of the confirmed films at IFFR 2019 –


Directed by Tomek Popakul

When a runaway teenage girl meets Skinny, a peculiar drug dealer, the infatuation quickly shows its darker side. With a sound design as impressive as its visuals, director Tomek Popakul has created an animated trip with sociopolitical layers and great beats.


Directed by Catherine Corsini

She is a typist and below his station, but that won’t stop rich kid Philippe from seducing the beautiful Rachel. He is clear about their future together: there isn’t one. Rachel accepts the situation even when she becomes pregnant.

Catherine Corsini’s adaptation of Christine Angot’s successful, eponymous novel – told from the perspective of Rachel’s daughter Chantal – proves that listening to your heart isn’t always smart. Particularly in the late 1950s in rural France where class distinctions are still important. Rachel and her daughter will make it on their own, but the former will never truly free herself of Philippe. Painfully slowly, Rachel realises she made the wrong choice. With a strong, moving role for Virginie Efira, this chronological tale finely delineates the impossibility and dramatic consequences of her love for Philippe.


Directed by João Vladmiro

When 17-year-old Anteu is left the last survivor in his village, he carries on with his solitary life but wonders who will bury him when he dies. His solution is pretty radical. The aesthetically pleasing, playful narrative with enchanting sound design, subtly addresses major life questions.


Directed by Jia Zhangke

Young dancer Qiao falls for powerful mob boss Bin. After protecting him during a rival gang’s ambush, she ends up in prison. Upon release, some five years later, she seeks out Bin to restart their old life. But is that still possible? Their violent relationship develops from 2001 to 2017, which allows director Jia Zhangke to chronicle contemporary China – from mining ghost towns to entire villages sacrificed for new dams.

Maestro Jia Zhangke’s latest film was inspired by scenes cut from his previous works Unknown Pleasures (2002) and Still Life (2006). Those films also featured Jia’s muse and wife Zhao Tao in the lead and in the director’s mind the two roles she played in those films melded into one. Ash Is Purest White completes her story.



Directed by Clara van Gool

Weatherend House, 1903: John and May circle each other. She says they met, some 11 years ago. His voice-over describes his sense of being predestined for something, a premonition about ‘the beast in the jungle’ striking. What is it though? Love? Death?

Director Clara van Gool adapted Henry James’ novel of the same name into a poetic mix of costume drama and dance film. The characters’ movements sometimes develop into a choreography, with brief dances. John and May experience various moments together in different ages: in 1903, during World War II, during the 1960s – they dance the twist – and in the present. A melancholy story about time’s inexorable forward march, whilst waiting for the ‘beast from the jungle’, told through choreography, smart sound design, repeating dialogues and beautiful cinematography.


Directed by Federico Veiroj

Javier Belmonte paints large canvases with male nudes in impossible positions. They are really all self-portraits. The artist is 43 and imprisoned in a midlife crisis. He leads the unstructured life of a bohemian, flitting from one woman to another. He always wears a sturdy leather jacket but sits crying in the opera at night. The fact that his ex-wife is expecting and his 10-year-old daughter Celeste seems to be drifting away from him makes him insecure. Family life is what he actually wants. But he’s too maladjusted and stubborn to convince himself he is suitable for that.

Belmonte, an atmospheric portrait of a man emotionally caught in the middle, is convincingly carried by protagonist Gonzalo Delgado, who is also a painter in real life and works as a production designer for important Uruguayan films like Whisky and Acné. He looks both exhausted and agitated, and is helpless in a macho away.



Directed by Khalik Allah

What makes Jamaica so special, multicultural, raw and spiritual? New Yorker Khalik Allah’s visual prayer and ode bares the Caribbean country’s soul in wonderfully unpolished, analogue images. Jamaica – blessed with fertile soil, yet cursed with a horrific history of slavery – proves a veritable melting pot of cultures, religions and traditions.

In this artistic documentary, Allah gives Jamaicans the opportunity to share their dreams and wisdom, but also to talk about the harsh everyday reality. His characteristic, analogue shots are accompanied by a soundtrack that is sometimes juxtaposed with the images, yet the two always seem seamlessly aligned. The self-taught photographer and filmmaker portrays contemporary Jamaicans in a particularly honest fashion. From young streetwalkers and streetwise rappers to Rastafarians, mothers, agricultural labourers and devout church girls. Allah has subdivided his film into the trimesters of a pregnancy. Life’s key elements come together in Black Mother.


Directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit

Girl band BNK48, with 50 members, is a phenomenon that has wafted over from Japan to Thailand, where it is turning the country upside down. Every teenager and twenty-something in the band has her own character, personality and social media followers. The latter is the most important factor to break through in this megalomaniac pop group. Only the most popular members are admitted to the core team: the 16 sebatsus who actually record the songs.

Thai documentary director Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit takes a look behind the scenes with this kawaii pop group, sketching in revealing interviews with band members the toll it takes to reach the top. To get the most from BNK48, the girls have to compete against their best friends. Even worse: talent is not always rewarded. It’s not really about who is the best singer or dancer, but mainly who has the most followers on social media. So the members of BNK48 are caught up in an endless popularity contest.


Directed by Martin de Vries

“Everything in me said I had to do it.” Martin de Vries decides, without any preparation worth mentioning, to walk the Camino, the famous pilgrims’ way to Santiago de Compostela. From Le Puy-en-Velay in central France to north-west Spain; a journey of 1,600 kilometres, taking almost 70 days. He films himself while walking – his feet, his shadow, the path, the fields and woods – and tries to get to the bottom of why he set out on this adventure.

Only occasionally do we see other walkers and the places where he spends the night. As he turns the camera on himself while walking, De Vries soberly wonders aloud about the trials and euphoric moments; about the beautiful morning light and the sound of the birds; about doubts and growing unease. He learns to be ‘in the moment’ and as he walks examines his motivations and inner demons with ever greater candour. An unpolished travelogue in the addictive rhythm of the trip that makes the experience palpable. A self-portrait in two million steps.


Directed by Nadine Labaki

The doctor thinks Zain is about twelve years old, but nobody knows for sure; he wasn’t registered at birth. And this is not the only pretty basic thing missing from the chaotic lives of Zain and his younger brothers and sisters: they also lack a habitable home, sufficient food, protection, love. So Zain takes his parents to court. His complaint: that they brought him into the world.

Using the court case as a framework, we learn how it came to this in two long flashbacks. In an energetic montage of observationally filmed scenes, Capharnaüm examines – in part through the problems of an ‘illegal’ Ethiopian cleaner who shelters Zain when he runs away from home – the fate of the large group of undocumented people trying to survive in and around Beirut. Street-savvy and wise beyond his years, the sad gaze of young lead Zain Al Rafeaa betrays his real-life experiences as a Syrian refugee in the Lebanese metropolis.


Directed by Andres Duque

Trees are everything. In a settlement near the Russian-Finnish border, a traditional family keeps shamanistic rituals alive. The children play in the same forest where photos nailed to trees remind us of Stalin’s bloody repression. Spirituality and politics meet in this intuitive montage of poetic impressions, historical material, nature shots, family scenes and probing testimony.

Alternating between the enchantment of a child’s gaze and critical essay, this is the first of a two-part series dedicated to Karelia. The traumatic history of this region, which once belonged to Sweden, still resounds. The father points to the massacre by Ivan the Terrible in 1570. A gnarled block of wood is reminiscent of Pan, god of nature, and panic. But there’s also the long arm of Putin. The daughter of a historian, an activist who investigated mass graves for 20 years, describes how her father was arrested on the basis of a shady accusation.


Directed by Henri Chomette 

What is pure cinema? Henri Chomette’s answer to this question adopts a minimalist and formalist style, juxtaposing objects and landscapes. This experimental short film from the silent era is a seminal investigation into the nature of cinema as a medium and as an art form.


Directed by Ho Wi Ding 

To the accompaniment of a cheerful Chinese tune, a man falls from an apartment block in the opening scene. His face smashes upon the camera, turning the image blood red. Above his head, a drone appears. “Life consists of falling down and standing up”, a mechanical voice says. “It is wrong to commit suicide. There’s no problem so great it can’t be solved. We always must stay positive.” What follows is equally dizzying; in three non-chronological parts spanning decades, Ho Wi Ding shows what (and which women) led the tragic protagonist to his desperate deed.

Cities of Last Things, Ho’s first Chinese film – his debut Pinoy Sunday (2009) also screened at IFFR – was filmed by French cameraman Jean-Louis Vialard on surplus 35mm Fuji film stock. The colours of this dystopian world, where government control is massive, splash from the screen; the editing is brutal, the tone deceptively light. Awarded at Toronto Film Festival.


You just blink and – suddenly it’s all over. On Saturday 2 February, round off the 48th IFFR with us at the exclusive screening of the closing film in the Grote Zaal in ‘de Doelen’. After the film, we’ll see out the festival in spectacular style with the Closing Party.

We’ll be raising the roof of ‘de Doelen’ with an eclectic mix of DJs, live music and acts. But don’t cry because it’s over – Sunday 3 February is completely dedicated to IFFR’s Volkskrantdag. As an extra for those who do not get enough of IFFR, we also have the Dag van de Dwarse Film in Rotterdam! And even after that it is still no reason to be sad: IFFR remains active all year round.

PLEASE NOTE: separate tickets for the party are also available. For more information go to the Closing Party page. Tickets for the closing film are not available separately, only in combination with the Closing Party.


After twelve days of eye-opening, critical, moving, funny, experimental, unpredictable films, debates, discussions and exhibitions – it’s time to party! And in style: celebrate the spectacular close of the 48th IFFR with us on Saturday 2 February.

The official Closing Party kicks off at 23:00 hours in de Doelen, right after the screening of the closing film. Of course we’ll be partying into the wee hours. Expect a fantastic line-up of different DJs, live music and unforgettable live acts.


Directed by Charlotte Pryce

A kinematographic film comprised of five brief fictions in which is explored the mystery of insect flight. Interpretations of a mythological and fantastical nature are illuminated in motion and time. In order of screening: Thin Breath-quivering, Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, Departure from the Garden, Conjuring Forth the Firefly and Keepers of the Labyrinth.


Directed by Natalya Meshchaninova

It speaks volumes that the shy Egor does not want to put a badly injured dog to sleep. This vet at a remote stock farm loves animals more than people. Yet his work is less idyllic than it looks. He tends the dogs and foxes in order to prepare them for bloody foxhounds. When animal activists appear at the gate, Egor starts having his doubts about his moral compass. Is he compassionate or cruel?

Russian screenwriter and director Natalya Meshchaninova was at IFFR last year as scriptwriter for Boris Khlebnikov’s Arrhythmia. He in turn wrote Core of the World, in which Meshchaninova again sketches an accurate picture of the Russian lower class. When Egor finally has contact with the progressive outside world, having spent years in his own small circle, his perspective on life changes. The film provides a warmhearted glimpse of how Egor loses his love for his work as a result.


Directed by Charlotte Pryce 

A metaphorical exploration of Tenniel’s illustrated edition of Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. Through careful illumination the book’s illustrations retreat into the fibre of the page, and a fleeting light dissolves into the chemistry of the film’s emulsion, revealing and yet concealing a story that is but glimpsed.


Some IFFR films polarize audiences like no other: you either love them or hate them. Where some see a work of a genius, others get lost in an impenetrable maze of experimentation. On Sunday 3 February, the last day of the festival, five of these impetuous, opinion-splitting titles will be screened KINO Rotterdam, this year for the very first time. Also in EYE, Amsterdam we screen masterly cinema for the hard-core cinema-lover.

These wayward films are often either marked ‘exceptionally good’ or ‘exceptionally bad’ in the audience surveys – they leave little room for ambivalence, but always stimulate debate. These are the festival’s pieces of cinematographic bravado, the masterful experiments.

The Dag van de Dwarse Film salutes these innovative, daring, original and exceptional films. In 2018 the programme included Les garçons sauvages by Bertrand Mandico, an exciting mix of Jules Verne, A Clockwork Orange and William Burroughs with an erotic twist. The previous 2018 edition screened Nervous Translation by Shireen Seno, 9 doigts by F.J. Ossang and DRIFT by Helena Wittmann, among others.


Directed by Soudade Kaadan

In Damascus, young pharmacist Sana is trying to give her son as normal a childhood as possible. It is 2012, the start of the war in Syria, and water, gas and electricity are scarce. Sana hears there are bottles of gas to be had in a city nearby. She sets off on a search that quickly gets out of hand after she encounters an unexpected roadblock. Along the way, she experiences the kindness of strangers, but also her worst nightmare. In an olive grove, she discovers that people can lose their shadows – as if the traumatic experience of war causes them to lose something of themselves.

Following several documentaries on refugees, this gripping story marks Soudade Kaadan’s transition to fiction. Her background in documentary is clearly visible in the natural acting, handheld camerawork and hyper-realism of Sana’s panic-stricken journey, with an excursion into the territory of magical realism. Winner of the Luigi De Laurentiis Award for Best Debut in Venice.


IFFR and CJP are once again serving up a tasty menu of unmissable festival films during DECODED | IFFR in one day on Saturday 26 January.

From 11:00 to 18:00 hours in the Oude Luxor Theater you can lap up a lavish programme of brand new, never-before-seen films, as well as Q&As with filmmakers and of course: drinks. While specially put together for CJP pass holders, you are more than welcome even if you don’t have a pass!

DECODED which will be artistically presented by YMP and Productiehuis Flow, with Rotterdam spoken-word performances.


Directed by Sacha Polak

When Jade, a young mother from London, is discharged from hospital, the doctors are are happy with her progress. But can she ever be happy again? After an acid attack by her ex, she will have to live with scars on her neck, chest, arms and part of her face. The burns may heal, but the scars remain.

Dirty God is a portrait of a woman with incredible resilience. This is the third time director Sacha Polak has chosen a capricious, complex, strong female protagonist, following her much appreciated features Hemel (2011) and Zurich (2015). Jade is no passive victim; she makes her own choices – good or bad – and deals with the consequences. Polak’s first English-language feature is controlled and subtle, without the director surrendering any of her typical intensity. Newcomer Vicky Knight, who was badly burned as a child (not the same scars as in the film), is a genuine revelation in a powerful lead performance.


Directed by Charlotte Pryce

Fragile leaves and very fine threads of fungus string together in Charlotte Pryce’s three plant studies. Plants and images of the plants, and their envisioned environments, are intertwined. The title is taken from an obscure genre of 17th century painting: Forest Floor Paintings, which placed plants into a ‘real’ environment as opposed to a vase.


Directed by Sergei Loznitsa

When war is called peace, when propaganda is uttered as truth, when hatred is declared love, life itself begins to resemble death. Sergei Loznitsa provides a practical guide to surviving hell. In this case, a hell called Donbass. The Ukrainian region where criminal gangs, local militias and the Russian army fight in the streets. Life suffused with fear and suspicion; what is real and what is fake news?

With actors and locals, Loznitsa recreates videos from YouTube and other social media, confirming again that truth is often stranger than fiction. His episodic fictionalisation, which won Best Director in Cannes Un Certain Regard, underlines the grotesqueness of situations that are already strange and disturbing. Replete with pitch-black humour, Loznitsa shows us his society collapse as absurd comedy slips into absurd tragedy.


Directed by Simona Kostova

In hip Berlin neighbourhood Neukölln, we experience 24 hours in the lives of a group in their late twenties. While writer Övünç struggles with a feeling of emptiness, former lovers Pascal and Raha try to let go of their relationship. Kara, Henner and Anja are also facing problems within their group of friends. In the evening, they celebrate Övünç’s birthday, then wander the streets, into the night.

In impressionistic scenes, the friends leave the confines of their constrictingly filmed minimalist apartments for Berlin’s bustling night life, presented as full of movement. This series of colourful vignettes simultaneously exudes loneliness and attachment, and in so doing Dreissig captures the mood of young urbanites on the verge of a quarter-life crisis. The friends are in the midst of life, but feel their sell-by dates fast approaching. “It’ll all be alright”, Anja says when Kara, following a tantrum, collapses weeping into her arms. Maybe it will – but when?


Directed by Brunna Laboissière

Fabiana is a seasoned trucker who has crisscrossed and conquered the roads of Brazil for 30 years. The fact that she is transgender doesn’t seem to make any difference for her nomadic life. In many places, she can hook up with a variety of women and feels in her element among the guys on the road. Now she is approaching retirement, Fabiana realises her life will change drastically. Her house, where she lives with her girlfriend when not on the road, will become her new world.

During her last journeys, documentary maker Brunna Laboissière hitches a ride. Laboissière records the endless routes through changing landscapes, films intimate phone calls Fabiana has with friends and lovers, and functions as a confidante for the tawny, self-assured Fabiana. The truck’s cabin is her home, her route is paved with adventure. How do you deal with a changing life if you’re happy with the way things are?


Want to watch some films with your whole family? At IFFR you can! Family Short Films, on Wednesday 30 January, is a fun afternoon of films – from 15:00 to 16:30 hours – made up of a colourful collection of short animated films, documentaries and fiction films for children aged 8 and up and their parents. The selection covers all kinds of cheerful, recognisable topics, as well as more serious themes.


Directed by Philippe Lesage

Some say youth is wasted on the young, but they obviously don’t know teenagers from Genèse. Guillaume, Charlotte and Felix are all shaken up by their first loves in the turmoil of their youth. At a time when others are conforming, they stand their ground and assert their right to love and be free. They remain true to themselves, but not without problems. Philippe Lesage sketches how heartrendingly beautiful love can be, using a patient camera, gripping soundtrack and very charismatic protagonists.

Guillaume is at a boarding school, where he is a leader in the class. He gradually develops feelings for his best friend, an ice hockey player. Guillaume’s sister Charlotte exchanges her respectable puppy love for the wrong type. The third, separate storyline is for Félix, a young teenager who experiences his first pure love at summer camp. This helps explain the film’s puzzling title: it’s the start of everything.


Directed by Yervant Gianikian, Luca Previtali

Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi built up their impressive, highly praised and original joint oeuvre over a period of 40 years. Their work dissects found footage and makes connections between modernity and 20th-century imperialist violence.

For example, in 2018 IFFR screened their beautiful installation Journey to Russia in its A History of Shadows programme. This consisted of a watercolour scroll by Ricci Lucchi (who studied under painter Oskar Kokoschka) and six video projections – a record of their search for the survivors of the Russian avant-garde during the period when the Soviet Union was disintegrating. Ricci Lucchi passed away shortly after this and Gianikian started making this film.

This poignant homage is compiled from Angela Ricci Lucchi’s illustrated diaries as well as personal film and video reports. These capture the everyday lives of the couple in the hills of Northern Italy and their many travels, such as a journey to Armenia with actor Walter Chiari. This personal record is proof that Gianikian is continuing their lives’ work of ‘cinematic excavation’.


Directed by Philbert Aimé Mbabazi Sharangabo

Eric is no more. His friends meet at his house to spend a night together. They reflect on life, find support, exchange anecdotes and bring memories of Eric to life. An intimate film about mourning and friendship.


Mexican author, scriptwriter and filmmaker Guillermo Arriaga talks about his new novel The Savage (El savaje) during the IFFR edition of the monthly Dutch literary programme, Boek & Meester. With moderator and Dutch author Ernest van der Kwast, he also talks about the scenarios he wrote for acclaimed films such as Amores Perros21 Grams and Babel (2000, 2003 and 2006, Alejandro González Inárritu).


On Sunday, 27 January, young film enthusiasts can attend Kids Only, a fun film festival programme put together especially for children aged 8 to 12 and their parents. Do you want to bring your own story to life by making your own Story Lantern or thinking up amazing scenes in a recreated filmset using green screens? You can do it all at Kids Only!

In the morning you can get inspired by wonderful films, then after lunch you can get to work exploring the worlds of film and new media as a maker. There will also be time to relax with a glass of lemonade in the VR cinema.

You can choose between a morning or a full day programme (10:00 to 12:00 hours or 10:00 hours to 16:00 hours). During the morning programme, together with their parents children can watch an exclusive, international programme full of animated, fiction and documentary films.

If you choose the full day programme, this is then followed by a lunch for everyone, and then the children take part in a film-related workshop while their parents watch a festival film. To round off the day, kids and parents can all watch the workshop results together.


Directed by Yann Gonzalez

One by one, the bit-part actors in Anne’s homoerotic porn films are being killed by a masked murderer. The police seem uninterested, so Anne (Vanessa Paradis) starts to investigate the murders herself. In the meantime, she mourns for her fractured relationship with Loïs, who works as an editor on her films.

In Knife + Heart, set in 1979, Yann Gonzalez pays playful homage to the homo porn shot on 16mm in the 1970s. In one deliciously spicy scene, Anne’s experiences at the police station are re-enacted in the police porn flick Homocidal, which we see being shot in the studio. Connoisseurs will spot many painstaking recreations of 1970s gay bars, night clubs and darkrooms. Like in La chatte à deux têtes by Jacques Nolot – who has a cameo here – the climax takes place in a porn cinema. Using extravagant colour filters and dream sequences, Gonzalez also nods to the giallo films of Dario Argento. The striking synth score is by M83.


Directed by Yeo Siew Hua

Lok, an overtired detective about to retire, investigates the disappearance of a Chinese building worker in Singapore after the man, Wang, suddenly fails to turn up on the construction site. Lok and a colleague start looking into Wang’s life to find out what happened to him. To do so, they find themselves in a part of the city they don’t know: where anonymous building workers live in shabby hostels, around endless rows of cranes in the night. This is the army of invisible, underpaid migrants with no rights who still help the new Singapore to rise.

In his feature debut, with its changing perspectives, both the lonely worker and the Singapore detective see the dark side of this booming metropolis. How do the disillusioned workers survive here? Although the two lives in this neo-realistic drama in a film-noir style are distant from each other, Lok and Wang also have something in common: exhausting insomnia and vivid (day)dreams about a different life.


Directed by Alice Rohrwacher

The village of Inviolata (Italian for ‘unsullied’) lives up to its name in successful Italian director Alice Rohrwacher’s third film. The small community of tobacco farmers lives as it has for centuries. However, the marquis’ car – who rules the plantation with an iron fist – and her son Tancredi’s mobile phone reveal that we are closer to the present than we might think.

In turn, the exploited villagers abuse the endless patience of young Lazzaro, who is innocence personified. From the moment he and Tancredi become friends, everything goes wrong. Following a dramatic incident, the villagers are dragged into the modern age. Lazzaro felice (a screenplay winner in Cannes) tells a wondrous tale in which fable and social realism unite, as if by magic.


Directed by Kirill Serebrennikov

Punky biopic about the underground music scene in Leningrad just before Perestroika, based on the early years of pop icon Viktor Tsoï and his legendary band Kino. In the early 1980s, he befriends the charismatic singer of the band Zoopark, who has managed to pick up rare records by Bowie, Blondie and T. Rex. They decide to shake things up with their own performances, but for now their young audience is allowed only to move their feet to the rhythm. With humour and guts, the band members tackle censorship, even if only in their imagination.

In lush black-and-white, Leto captures the energy of a long summer: making music together in cramped apartments and cautious rebellion, alternating with wildly scratched images and surrealistic interludes of train passengers singing along to Psycho Killer by Talking Heads. Filmmaker Serebrennikov (The Student) was placed under house arrest at the end of filming Leto. He was still able to finish the editing at home.


Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

In the titles to his essay film Le livre d’image, Godard quotes Bertold Brecht: “Only a fragment carries the mark of authenticity.” This is the key to his own film, which is composed of fragments from other films, YouTube clips and artworks. Godard manipulates these images, puts fragments of music under them and adds a whispered voice-over spoken by himself.

Le livre d’image is divided into five chapters, within which eight motifs can be discerned: hands, the train, nationalism, violence, chaos, the law, imperialism and revolution. In addition, a recurring Godard theme appears: the difference between word and image, and between reality and the representation of reality. As far as the latter is concerned, in the second half of his stimulating essay, Godard examines the Western view of the Middle East, which – it transpires – is represented mainly as an exotic place. Godard deconstructs this view and opposes it with another: film clips from the East. In so doing, he gives Arabs a voice.


Directed  by Ognjen Glavonic

In 1999 truck driver Vlada arrives at a dilapidated warehouse in war-torn Kosovo to collect a mysterious load. He has to keep to a strict schedule, not ask any questions and keep the back of the truck locked. Vlada sets off on an odyssey through a desolate landscape of derelict houses and bridges bombed up by NATO. When he finally gets home, he is confronted by the consequences of his actions. His load becomes his burden.

Ognjen Glavonić’s film is based on the real events he dealt with previously in the documentary Depth Two (2016). In his fiction debut The Load, he focuses principally on the moral degradation of an ordinary man just trying to get by, and investigates what this generation inherits from the last. Glavonić shifts down the gears for this subtle story, captured in claustrophobic images pregnant with ever-present threat, making the impact of the denouement all the more powerful.


Directed by Bi Gan

“The difference between film and memory is that film is always false. Memories mix truth and lies”, a character in Bi Gan’s second feature film says. His debut, Kaili Blues, marked him as a talent to watch in China’s budding eighth generation. The dreamy, elliptic tale ends in a 45-minute single shot in which past and present intertwine.

The follow-up, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, is even more impressive and partially in 3D. Once again, his lead returns to Kaili (the director’s home town) after years away. Luo Hongwu has come to attend his father’s funeral, but is also in search of a lover he just can’t forget. The summer they shared 20 years ago seamlessly merges with his contemporary search: “Every time I see her, I know I am in a dream again.”


Directed by Charlotte Pryce

The film takes its title from chapter three of Lewis Caroll’s Through the Looking-Glass. This play of observation makes use of magnifying glasses, used by both entomologists and filmmakers alike. The magnifying glasses can be seen as visual metaphor for the cinematic process. Yet the insects of the story dissolve into darkness.


Internationally renowned artist, architect and filmmaker Alfredo Jaar (1956, Chile) returns to Rotterdam to talk about his most recent projects. This masterclass, titled ‘Sadness Is Uninhabitable, is organised in collaboration with the Nederlands Fotomuseum, which will be exhibiting his work from 26 January 26 to 12 May 2019. Jaar will also be a member of the Tiger Jury at IFFR 2019. He was recently selected as the winner of the 11th Hiroshima Art Prize.


Directed by Garin Nugroho

Juno, a sensitive boy in a village on Java, struggles with confusing impressions following the sudden departure of his father. Juno practises with a traditional Lengger dance company, where male dancers can assume female forms. He is attracted by the sensuality of this, but he is also shocked when he sees how seduction can lead to violence. He begins to discover his own sexual identity while becoming friends with a young boxer and an old dance teacher.

Modern politics and traditional Indonesian dance, masculinity and femininity merge in this new film from Garin Nugroho, a versatile filmmaker who has regularly attended IFFR. Using straightforward means, he creates an impression of complex emotional and social relations at the time of Suharto’s resignation. The last episode is the most politically charged in this at times enchanting, at times realistic-poetic story. Inspired by the life of choreographer and dancer Rianto, who himself acts as a narrator through mini-performances and poignant recollections: “My body is my home.”


Directed by Stan Brakhage

Stan Brakhage’s obsession with creating films is like the attraction of an insect to the light: compulsive, inexplicable and self-destructive. In Mothlight, he bypasses the camera and presses pieces of dead moths onto a clear strip of 16mm film, leading to a resurrection in the projector’s beam.


Directed by Rick Alverson

The atmosphere in The Mountain is so stunningly austere, thanks in part to the atonal, beseeching soundtrack, you start to think there’s a dark, evil universe lurking behind the orderly surface of the screen, poised to enter this world at any moment.

We experience this simmering threat through the eyes of young Andy, who is travelling with his disappeared mother’s former doctor, Dr Fiennes – a surprisingly restrained role by Jeff Goldblum. This neurologist asks the boy to accompany him as a photographer during operations. What follows is a journey through American psychiatric institutions of the 1950s, where Fiennes subjects women to lobotomies – a treatment already outmoded at that time. The Mountain, filmed in stark 4:3 framing, shows an ice-cold male world from which all forms of humanity are surgically removed. Including the small signs of life Andy occasionally dares to show. Grimly sober, tragically loveless.


Directed by Fabienne Godet

After a life of drugs and drink, Margot finds herself in a rehab clinic in the French countryside. At first she is averse to the others trying to get their lives back on track in this homey setting – her emotions are locked up. She lives from day to day and dutifully attends therapy sessions, but slowly the outside world start getting through to her and she’s able to open up to the real cause of her addiction.

In very realistic scenes, with excellent ensemble acting, Fabienne Godet evokes great empathy for these people as they wrestle, people who could have been your father, sister or daughter. They have to overcome profound shame in order to finally discover the destruction they have caused. They have often been deserted emotionally by the people who are closest to them. Now they take care of each other, revealing their darkest sides with remarkable honesty.


Directed by Laura Baumeister

Alina is a champion at everything she does, but she feels at ease only in the presence of strangers. This successful daughter of accomplished parents seeks out the contrasts of the socio-economically divided city she lives in. An energetic portrait of a self-destructive go-getter with a simple dream.


It’s the big, eagerly anticipated moment: the official launch of IFFR 2019! Get the festival off to a flying start on Wednesday 23 January with the – always hotly debated – opening film, followed by a peerless dance party through the night. The perfect start to the twelve days and nights of festival ahead.

This year, our opening night takes place in a very special, extra festive location: the Grote Zaal of Theater Rotterdam Schouwburg. This IFFR kick-off with our opening film is open to all. After the film, the audience move over to ‘de Doelen’ for the party.

Opening Film
Dirty God
Young London mother Jade (a superb performance by Vicky Night) must rebuild her life following an acid attack, although she hardly dares look in the mirror. Sacha Polak’s powerful portrait of a complex woman retains the intensity of her previous features, Hemel and Zurich.

Opening Party
Git Hyper
After the opening film Dirty God, DJ and turntablist Git Hyper will step behind the decks in ‘de Doelen’. If you don’t know him as the regular DJ on programmessuch as Raymann is Laat and The Comedy Factory, then maybe from Rotterdam rap act DuvelDuvel. He was also involved in successful acts such as Zuco 103 and Caro Emerald, and he was the first DJ to perform music composed by him with the Metropole Orchestra.

Pájaros de verano

Directed by Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra

The north of Colombia in the late 1960s. During a village ceremony on an expanse of desert, Rapayet is captivated by the beautiful Zaida. But in order to marry her, he needs a large dowry. In the first 20 minutes, Birds of Passageseems to be building up to a calm drama about the centuries-old family traditions of the Waayu people. But this is only half the story in this Colombian submission for the Oscars.

While the elderly women continue to pursue their mystic rituals, Rapayet and members of a friendly family see an opportunity to earn money by smuggling and selling large consignments of marijuana. And with the drugs and the money, comes the violence. In five breathtakingly shot chapters, and traditional Colombia changes into an arena of drugs, greed, revenge and blood. This makes Birds of Passage a portrayal of the start of the Escobar era.


Directed by Charlotte Pryce

An intoxicating flower drenched in luminous colours and sparkling light. Having grown the beautiful tulip Pryce fell deeply under its spell – an affliction shared by an artist from another time and place, a longing reach across the centuries. In such luxurious and temporary beauty they crossed paths, sharing fear of the transience of life.


Directed by Charlotte Pryce

Delicate threads of energy spiral and transform into mysterious cells of golden dust: these are the luminous particles of the alchemist’s dream. Prima Materia is inspired by the haunting wonderment of Lucretius’s De rerum natura. It is a homage to the first photographic records of extraordinary phenomena lurking just beyond the edge of human vision.


Directed by Matheus Parizi 

Real life invades the theatrical bubble in this urgent drama about the street protests in Brazil. Two theatre student activists leave their acting classes to take part in a demonstration against cuts to the culture budget. Something big is happening out on the streets – history is being written – but the teacher prefers to stick to rigid Shakespearean texts.


Directed by Jill Magid

What happens to intellectual property if it is privatised? This is the question Jill Magid asks when she wants to make an artwork that deals with the work of Luis Barragán, the most significant Mexican architect of the 20th century. It turns out that Barragán’s huge archive was sold in 1995, seven years after his death, to the owner of Swiss design company Vitra, who gave it as a wedding present to his fiancée, Federica Zanco. Since then it has not left the basement of Vitra’s headquarters, where it is jealously guarded by its new owner.Instead of indignantly going on the attack, Magid courts Zanco with flattering letters demonstrating their shared passion for Barragán. An unusual love triangle emerges as the partners gradually become closer. Magid’s final goal is to make the archives public again, preferably in Mexico. To get Zanco’s permission, she makes her a proposal that is as macabre as it is romantic.PWDRE SER : THE ROT OF STARS

Directed by Charlotte Pryce 

Pwdre ser is the Welsh name for the mythical substance star jelly that has been observed since the 1400s. The film depicts an encounter with a mysterious, luminous, electrical substance. Inspired equally by medieval accounts of visionary experiences and by 19th-century photography of the invisible, Pwdre Ser joins coronal Kirlian photography with hand-processed images.


Directed by Wanuri Kahiu

“Good Kenyan girls become good Kenyan wives”, is what Kena and Ziki have heard all their young lives. And that getting a mortgage is the dream of every normal Kenyan. But Kena and Ziki want more. They want adventure and real love, not a dull existence as an obedient wife in the suburbs. It’s not until they fall in love with one another that they find out just how conservative the world around them really is. The relationship between these two young women forms the warm, beating heart of this sparkling, colourful film.

‘Afrobubblegum’ is what director Wanuri Kahiu calls her style, and the production company of which she is co-founder. In the words of the young maker, this stands for “fun, fierce and frivolous African art”. Like its two protagonists, this film had to overcome considerable resistance after being banned by Kenyan censors. Kahiu contested this decision and finally won in the Kenyan High Court.


Directed by Emir Baigazin

On a vast plain in Kazakhstan, surrounded by mountaintops, Aslan and his younger brothers are put to work continuously by their strict father. They have no time for pleasure. The tight framing, elegant, symmetrical compositions and editing without soundtrack reflect the order and discipline on the remote farm. The only sound is that of the wind, the characters’ breathing and the few words that cross the plains.

In this last part of his Aslan Trilogy, Baigazin shows how a stream of images and sounds from animated pixels, computer game tunes and world news threatens to change this traditional lifestyle for good when a cousin from the city suddenly appears on a hoverboard.  Emir Baigazin uses the wild waters of the river where the boys seek distraction as a metaphor for the temptations brought by the cousin: television, tablet and video games penetrate the timeless bubble of the Kazakh countryside, apparently disrupting the old rhythms forever.


Directed by Teymur Hajiyev

A young woman seeks escape from the suffocating atmosphere at home and the Azerbaijani capital Baku is portrayed as a wonderful, blue-grey intermediate zone where modernity and tradition collide. In the words of Allen Ginsberg: “None of us understand what we’re doing, but we do beautiful things anyway.”


By Kaveh Nabatian, Ariane Lorrain, Sophie Goyette, Juan Andrés Arango, Sophie Deraspe, Karl Lemieux, Caroline Monnet.

As a filmmaker, musician and composer, Kaveh Nabatian doesn’t want to choose between music and film. He’d rather combine both disciplines as far as possible. For instance in this multidisciplinary project, for which he cooperated with six other Canadian filmmakers and the British Callino String Quartet. It’s based on the commissioned composition The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross (1787) by Joseph Haydn – a piece that is a special favourite around Easter and which grippingly expresses the state of the suffering Christ on the cross.

Each of the directors in this omnibus film provides their own very personal view of the themes in Heiden’s piece: forgiveness, redemption, abandonment and reunion. Nabatian himself made the intriguing introduction and the concluding ‘earthquake’, which frame the seven short films. These films are very varied in genre and style: fiction, documentary, experimental, magic realist and sometimes also soberly filmed – intimate and personal.


IFFR loves to push the boundaries and challenge you with its Short Film Marathon: a six-hour series of short films, always programmed on the last Saturday of the festival.

A programme for the real enthusiast, featuring all the highlights of IFFR’s short film programme: from black-and-white meditations to explosions of colour; from fiction to documentary; from video art and animation to competition films. Don’t worry, there are breaks – but mostly it’s all about watching lots and lots of short films, one after the other. Will you take up the challenge?


By Stefano Canapa

Hypnotising audio tracks dance to the soundtrack of Canapa’s previous film Jérôme Noetinger, for which Canapa filmed a solo performance by the French sound artist. As a member of the renowned Cellule d’intervention Metamkine, Noetinger manipulates magnetic tape creating bewitching sounds, now enriched with stroboscopic effects. Cinema for your ears!


sound//vision is IFFR’s innovative, experimental late-night programme, made up of four evenings and nights of live A/V performances in WORM.

From Thursday 24 to Sunday 27 January from 22:00 to 03:00 hours you can see, hear and experience exceptional, exclusive cooperations between musicians, video artists, filmmakers and other artists working in the field of sound and vision. sound//vision is part of IFFR’s short film programme.


sound//vision is IFFR’s innovative, experimental late-night programme, made up of four evenings and nights of live A/V performances in WORM.

From Thursday 24 to Sunday 27 January from 22:00 to 03:00 hours you can see, hear and experience exceptional, exclusive cooperations between musicians, video artists, filmmakers and other artists working in the field of sound and vision. sound//vision is part of IFFR’s short film programme.


sound//vision is IFFR’s innovative, experimental late-night programme, made up of four evenings and nights of live A/V performances in WORM.

From Thursday 24 to Sunday 27 January from 22:00 to 03:00 hours you can see, hear and experience exceptional, exclusive cooperations between musicians, video artists, filmmakers and other artists working in the field of sound and vision. sound//vision is part of IFFR’s short film programme.


sound//vision is IFFR’s innovative, experimental late-night programme, made up of four evenings and nights of live A/V performances in WORM.

From Thursday 24 to Sunday 27 January from 22:00 to 03:00 hours you can see, hear and experience exceptional, exclusive cooperations between musicians, video artists, filmmakers and other artists working in the field of sound and vision. sound//vision is part of IFFR’s short film programme.


By Miriam Gossing, Lina Sieckmann

Interviews with seamen’s widows take the viewer through the history of a trade as old as our civilisations, told by the women left behind on shore. These stories, represented on screen by a flowing imagery, catalogue a collection of the souvenirs gathered at sea. Shot on 36-hour ferry cruises between Rotterdam and Hull, and Kiel and Oslo.


By Charlotte Pryce

Winding germs and glowing flowers colour this alchemical 16mm miniature. Pryce spins gossamer golden threads in the silent darkness of the cinema. The book The Mirror of Alchemy from 1597 states: “The gold obtained through this art surpasses natural gold in all its attributes both medically and in every other way.”


With the Surprise Film, you follow our lead and are kept in the dark until the film starts. Never fear though, you can trust IFFR to always make a great choice. Be carried away and let the festival take you by surprise!


By Inger Lise Hansen

The sumptuous TÅKE, shot in Oslo, the Azores, Beijing and Newfoundland reveals how the phenomenon behaves differently on Super-8, 16mm and digital video. The bright green moss and the city are briefly shrouded in fog. Not only is the image partly obscured, the soundtrack is also a fog of evanescent sounds.


Directed by Charlotte Pryce

This live, vintage magic lantern performance tells the colourful story of a reluctant outlaw, a scavenger, a visionary. It is a science-fiction fable for the Anthropocene told with the delicate light of the magic lantern. It is a work of pre-cinematic moving images, with slides that are handmade and hand processed.


Directed by Ali Jaberansari

Three lonely people, each looking for love in their own ways. This is hard enough in any big city – never mind in Tehran, where individual freedoms can’t be taken for granted. In a sexy voice on the telephone, an overweight receptionist seduces men who wouldn’t look twice at her real ‘me’. In revenge, her sexy alter ego stands up every single one of the dates she makes. A former bodybuilding champion now earns a living as a personal trainer. When he gets a promising young sportsman as a client, he drops everything else; even a very promising acting job for a well-known French director. A singer at religious funerals is dumped by his fiancée. He tries to find new purpose in life by retraining as a singer at weddings and parties. That’s a lot more attractive to women, his friend assures him.

The protagonists’ search is subtly and gently sketched in this bittersweet tragicomedy supported by the Hubert Bals Fund. All three of them are looking for warmth and connection in a society that doesn’t embrace them back.


Directed by Sameh Zoabi

A comedy about the Arab-Israeli conflict? There are few filmmakers willing to take on such a risky project, but in Tel Aviv on Fire Sameh Zoabi proves it is still possible to find something to laugh about. Starting from a made-up romantic series about a female spy who marries an Arab man in 1967, but also has to engage with a member of the Israeli military. As the viewers don’t yet know who the woman will finally choose, the programme becomes hugely popular on both sides of the wall.

Salem works as a production assistant on the set and therefore has to pass a very strict border official every day. When he demands that the Israeli soldier be given a more positive role, Salem feverishly tries to influence the narrative of the TV series, as it becomes increasingly clear how futile this is. In this way, Zoabi is able to tackle a painful truth, zooming in on this decades-long conflict with the light touch of a compelling soap opera.


By Miguel Angel Moulet

They should have been gone months ago. But their parent company went bust and now the fishing trawler has been bobbing off the coast of the Peruvian port city of Chimbote for two months, without work. Most of the crew have now left, but Krystof, his younger brother and the skipper don’t have enough money to return to Russia. More and more they commute between the ship and the shore, where they are warmly welcomed by the owner of a local restaurant.

In an assured style, screenwriter/director Miguel Ángel Moulet transforms the trials of the three men into something bigger. Without any heavy-handed comparisons, we can clearly make out the contours of a global diaspora: the rootless army wandering the world in search of a place to survive. Where, after all this time, can these men call home? Will they be able to take root here, or keep on trying to get back to their home country?


Directed by Eva Van Tongeren

Filmmaker Eva van Tongeren spent months writing to a convicted paedophile. She sent him pictures of the desert, memories of journeys he has never made. At times she daren’t even open his replies, as they could make her angry – after all, he committed a heinous crime. But she wants to understand his motives.


Directed by Brady Corbet 

The sumptuous, satirical Vox Lux follows young Celeste as her life changes radically following a violent incident at school. Although she suffers physically and emotionally, this is also an opportunity. The song she writes inspired by the shooting becomes a hit – the start of a successful singing career. 

Vox Lux is not just about Celeste (played by both Raffey Cassidy and Natalie Portman), but also about the radical, violent changes in American society, with Columbine and 9/11 as the low points. Influenced by fear and fame, Celeste becomes a cynical superstar. Director Brady Corbet uses Willem Dafoe’s voice-over and Sia’s music to critically analyse Western culture, in which emotions and talent have been replaced by ostentation and empty success.


Back at IFFR 2019: the VPRO Preview Day and the VPRO Review Day. On both days, VPRO members and their guests can attend consecutive, exclusive screenings of a list of films from upcoming festival edition. These festival highlights are selected by IFFR programmers and the VPRO film editors and screen from 10:00 to 23:30 hours in Pathé Schouwburgplein. A guaranteed hit!


Back at IFFR 2019: the VPRO Preview Day and the VPRO Review Day. On both days, VPRO members and their guests can attend consecutive, exclusive screenings of a list of films from upcoming festival edition. These festival highlights are selected by IFFR programmers and the VPRO film editors and screen from 10:00 to 23:30 hours in Pathé Schouwburgplein. A guaranteed hit! 


Directed by Lawrence Abu Hamdan

At the Funkhaus studios in East Berlin audio investigator Abu Hamdan recorded stories about court cases that revolved around sounds. Witnesses heard these through walls like in the Oscar Pistorius case. Here, on the threshold of observation, the barrier between public and private becomes diaphanous. No wall is impenetrable.



Sağ’s philosophical work studies the ‘violence of images and images of violence’. This time around she filmed collective mourning in Cizre, a Kurdish city on the Syrian border. She reveals how images not only manipulate, but also link you to the people caught between life and death, past and present.


Directed by Praveen Morchhale 

“You can’t allow yourself to think for yourself”, Aasia’s colleague tells her. Aasia works as a nurse in a hospital in Kashmir to maintain herself, her 11-year-old daughter and her sick mother-in-law. She is a ‘half widow’: her husband, like many men in this Indian region, was arrested and never returned. Alongside her work and caring for her family, Aasia spends a lot of time trying to obtain a death certificate for her husband; a bleak game that she has been playing for seven years with a calculating civil servant.

This calm film, drenched in warm colours, in which the taxi driver provides a poetic note, makes it clear just how painful the political and social situation in Kashmir is. Attacks, sexual violence, humiliation and corruption are everyday phenomena. The protagonist is played by Shilpi Marwaha, but apart from that, Praveen Morchhale, who financed the film herself, makes use of non-professional local actors.


By Charlotte Pryce

A live performance with vintage magic lanterns and handmade lantern slides tells the tale of famed naturalist Hudson’s spellbinding recollection of birds seen as a child from the pampas of his native Argentina. But the magic lantern also brings out other, hidden layers, including an encounter with nature teetering between joy and dread.


By Charlotte Pryce

A dirge, a dance. A portrait of stillness and silence disturbed by the urgency of sadness. The film is composed of paintings from the Northern Renaissance, collaged and combined with hand-painted, hand-processed and optically manipulated images of seashells, hands and dolls. The Ave Maria is sung by Rosa Ponselle, the dancer is Annie Morad.


By Radu Jude

Some people view the Romanian army’s mass murder of Jews in Odessa in 1941 as the start of the Holocaust. A statement by then prime minister Antonescu provides the title for this deftly structured political drama.

Idealistic young theatre director Mariana is working on an outdoor play based on the events referred to above. It becomes a nerve-wracking process in which she has to deal with extras who refuse to work with Roma actors, as well as eloquent local public officials seeking to sanitise the production. The present proves closer to the past than Mariana would like.

Intense political-philosophical discussions combine with historical footage, quotes from literature and Mariana’s personal problems to provide a layered perspective. The film develops into a sometimes wry, light and intimate meditation that is realistic in tone. Mariana could even be seen as an alter ego for the filmmaker Radu Jude, as he takes stock of today’s Romania. Grand Prix Karlovy Vary 2018.