Looking back at IFFR 2019

IFFR has become one of those events in which I feel comfortable. At home. After almost 20 years it has become like a family member. Sometimes you love it, sometimes you hate it. Somehow I always care about it. And maybe exactly for that reason I am critical about this event.

IFFR seems to care a lot about the numbers of visitors and the audience. Something you would expect at a commercial movie theater and not necessarily at a filmfestival wanting to be a platform for new and unusual voices. There is lots of attention and money spent on the packaging, on how the festival presents itself and how to reach more and more people.

In content of the programming I miss a vision. What is presented as a vision is more of a marketing slogan than it would be a vision. So the question arises; how could a filmfestival without a vision be able to be a platform for new and unusual voices?

Of course there are many people who watch films which they would not expect to exist. This audience is generally used to commercial films and/or major arthouse films in movie theaters. Nothing wrong with that.

Yet I do think that this audience is an easy target. Show them films with a little hint of exotic or strangeness and you will have them talk about it to their friends and colleagues.

But where are those films which anyone who would watch them, would come out of theater thinking that he or she has gone through some kind of transformation. That you could not tell exactly what the film is about because your brain is still chewing on it. The feeling that you have met someone so extraordinary that you will never forget him or her. Those films are rare indeed but I am sure they are still being made. So why is IFFR not capable of getting those films into their programme?

Or maybe I just missed all the jewels. That also is a possibility. Nevertheless I enjoy being at IFFR. I enjoy watching films and meeting colleagues and friends who often seem to have the same selection of films as I do.

#”Hashtag no filter” this program was a bit out of my comfort zone. Diving into and discovering a world that till last year did not really interest me. Social media and films exploring the possibilities of online platforms like youtube are attracting my attention more and more. I am curious about communication and art expressions within this world. There was one film in particular which I found interesting in the way it was done. A film based on an online known figure #Stacy #Hardy a #ratgirl. But when I found out that the film was not made by the girl in the film but by a filmmaker who had fictionalised the whole thing I was a bit disappointed.

Another film in this program was an interesting concept of making a film based on spam emails. The first part of the film when the filmmaker is looking for the right cast, was very interesting. When the chosen cast acts out the scenes from the spam emails it lost its power in my opinion.

I don’t know why but someone who I did not know so well, and he did not know me so well had recommended me to watch #Caphernaum.

Unbelievable how unforgivable cruel a human being can portray the misery of others and not be ashamed of showing off her “good intentions”. I am amazed that this film has won the #Cannes Palme d’or. The only mastery of this film is having picked a story that would make your heart break even if you would read 2 sentences about it. And maybe to make your audience even be more broken you could place a picture next to it.

Instead there is a two hour film made with its enormous costs to tell us what? To make us have pity and take action? I don’t believe that any action which arises from pity is a constructive one. To have pity and help is to make yourself feel good about being a good person. Wanting to prove that you care about others. Helping out of pity is not helping the other but helping yourself.

Caphernaum at the very core of the story cries on one hand the stupidity and laziness of some people and on the other hand the power of the capitalist system we all together have been supporting since it ever existed. So what is it all about when Nadine Labaki shows up at Cannes filmfestival in her beautiful dress, all made up and glamorous while presenting this film?

To me it is mind blowing that such films are being treated as if they are masterpieces while in fact they are nothing but showing us that we should be happy that we are not in their shoes. There is nothing more to get out of this film.

Not an impressive dramatic structure but one full of flaws and not a groundbreaking cinematic language. But there is an amazing cast which from what I understood played a role not far from their own lives.

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