International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has selected 48 feature film titles for its Bright Future Main Program dedicated to young, emerging film talent. Within this line-up, all feature-length film debuts that are a world or international premiere in Rotterdam are eligible for the Bright Future Award, worth €10,000.
Many of them are world premieres. In Impermanence by young Chinese filmmaker Zeng Zeng, three fascinating lost souls – a monk, an innkeeper and a father who has lost his son – are brought together by fate. The German film Ella und Nell by Aline Chukwuedo follows two Berlin women on a hike in the woods. August at Akiko’s is Christopher Makoto Yogi’s dreamy debut about a musician who returns to Hawaii trying to find his ‘ha’`– the spirit that links him to his birthplace.
Other nominated world premieres include the harrowing Counting Tiles by Lebanese filmmaker Cynthia Choucair, following a group of clowns who set off for the island of Lesbos to deliver laughter to refugees; The Heart by Swedish filmmaker Fanni Metelius about an invisible conflict stirring between the sheets of two lovers (“If you love me then fuck me!”); and the Egyptian film Poisonous Roses by Ahmed Fawzi Saleh, in which a young man dreams of a life beyond his tannery job in the slums. Also in competition: Argentinian filmmaker Gustavo Biazzi’s charming and melancholy coming-of-ager Los vagos.
Other world premieres in the Bright Future Main Program include YEAH by Japanese filmmaker Suzuki Yohei; Jonaki by celebrated Indian filmmaker Aditya Vikram Sengupta, whose Labour of Love screened at IFFR 2015; Permanent Green Light by Dennis Cooper and Zac Farley, about a teenager obsessed with the idea of blowing himself up in public; and La estrella errante by Spanish filmmaker Alberto Gracia about the wandering front man of a Galician underground punk band. Gracia won the FIPRESCI Award with his feature debut The Fifth Gospel of Kaspar Hauser at IFFR 2013.
Bright Future Competition
August at Akiko’s, Christopher Makoto Yogi, USA, 2018, world premiere
Musician Alex Zhang Hungtai returns to Hawai‘i after years abroad. His search for home and roots intensifies when he forms a bond with local kupuna Akiko.
Azougue Nazaré/Azougue Nazareth, Tiago Melo, Brazil, 2018, world premiere
In the sugarcane country of North East Brazil, where Evangelicalism is on the rise, people start to disappear and other strange things start to happen as Maracatu carnival season gets underway.
The Bangle Seller, Ere Gowda, India, 2018, world premiere
In a small Indian village, Kempanna and his wife Saubaghya are unable to conceive. A scandal seems imminent.
Counting Tiles, Cynthia Choucair, Lebanon , 2018, world premiere
A group of clowns travel to the Greek island of Lesvos on a mission to bring laughter to the many people escaping war in February 2016.
Ella und Nell/Ella & Nell, Aline Chukwuedo, Germany, 2018, world premiere
Ella and Nell used to be best friends. Now grown apart and in their forties, they set out on a hike in order to reconnect. The mood changes as old wounds are reopened.
The Heart, Fanni Metelius, Sweden, 2018, world premiere
Mika and Tesfay. She’s a photographer. He’s a musician. Both are up-and-coming. The first true romance. But an invisible conflict, an unnameable shame, stirs between their sheets.
Impermanence, Zeng Zeng, China, 2018, world premiere
Fate brings together three fascinating lost souls – a monk with a sack of money, an innkeeper with a heavy conscience and a father who’s lost his son – in young Chinese director Zeng Zeng’s mysterious tale of guilt, punishment and ambiguous redemption.
Poisonous Roses, Ahmed Fawzi Saleh, Egypt/France, 2018, world premiere
Saqr dreams of a life beyond his tannery job in the slums, but his love for the sister he would leave behind keeps him tied there.
Their Remaining Journey, John Clang, Singapore/USA/Taiwan, 2018, world premiere
A tale of reincarnation unfolds through the stories of a dead actress, an ex-mistress and an unfaithful husband, somewhere between New York and Singapore.
La torre/Tower, Sebastián Múnera, Colombia/Mexico, 2018, world premiere
On March 17, 2004 an explosive device was activated at the Piloto Public Library in Medellín, where much of the photographic archive of Colombian history is kept. A photograph is the only evidence of this barbarism.
Los vagos/Bums, Gustavo Biazzi, Argentina, 2017, international premiere
High school sweethearts Ernesto and Paula return to their hometown, Misiones, for the summer. Ernesto’s rekindled friendship with los vagos (‘the bums’) triggers upheaval for the pair.
Bright Future premieres
Ambiguous Places, Ikeda Akira, Japan, 2017, international premiere
A series of odd and mysterious dramas unfolds against ordinary backdrops in this new film from Tiger Award winner Ikeda.
Blockage, Mohsen Gharaei, Iran, 2017, European premiere
Fired from his job at the municipality for making deals on the side, Ghasem is forced to make changes. While is he making plans for his wife’s inheritance, a completely new opportunity arises.
La estrella errante/Wandering Star, Alberto Gracia, Spain, 2018, world premiere
The punk band Los Fiambres released one cult album in 1984. More than thirty years later, their lead singer, Rober Perdut, wanders around his Galician hometown in this sensory, melancholic film.
Hit the Night, Jeong Gayoung, South Korea, 2017, international premiere
Under the pretence of research, Ga-yeong pries into the personal and sexual life of a new acquaintance. Despite having a girlfriend, the acquaintance willingly participates. Is he unaware of her desire, or just impressed by her line of questioning?
Inferninho/My Own Private Hell, Guto Parente, Pedro Diógenes, Brazil, 2018, world premiere
In a bar called Inferninho, the staff dream of escape. A handsome sailor with a dream of finding home arrives.
Jonaki, Aditya Vikram Sengupta, India/France/Singapore, 2018, world premiere
While Jonaki, an 80-year-old woman, searches for love in a strange world of decaying memories, her lover, now old and grey, returns to a world she is leaving behind.
The Pain of Others, Penny Lane, USA, 2018, world premiere
A found-footage documentary about Morgellons, a mysterious illness whose sufferers say they have parasites under the skin and a host of other bizarre symptoms that could be taken from a horror film.
Permanent Green Light, Dennis Cooper/Zac Farley, France, 2018, world premiere
A young disabled guy wants to explode in public. He’s not suicidal or an extremist, he’s purely interested in this act’s effect. That he’ll die is unimportant, he just doesn’t want people to misinterpret the event.
Sol alegria, Tavinho Teixeira, Brazil, 2018, world premiere
An eccentric family on a mission travel through dictatorial Brazil to save humanity from annihilation. Cheerfully nihilistic film trip takes us past a colourful parade of sailors, whores, generals, corrupt priests and trigger-happy nuns.
YEAH, Suzuki Yohei, Japan, 2018, world premiere
A young woman, Ako, wanders around a sparsely populated housing estate in a rural city, Mito, where she spends her time speaking to objects and plants.
Confirmed for Bright Future
The Gulf, Emre Yeksan, Turkey/Germany/Greece, 2017
Leaving behind a ruined career and a bitter divorce, Selim returns to his hometown, Izmir. While wandering the city he runs into an old friend and finds himself gradually drawn into a new world.
Those Who Are Fine, Cyril Schäublin, Switzerland, 2017
Using skills gained working in a call centre, Alice makes a sinister income posing as the granddaughter of Zurich’s many lonely grandmothers.