The Hummingbird Project
The Hummingbird Project

International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) announced the eight films selected for the 2019 Tiger Competition, the eight films in the Big Screen Competition, IFFR 2019’s closing film, and new names in the Talks & Masterclasses program, including Claire Denis, Sacha Polak and Jia Zhangke.

The Tiger Competition features eight films, with each their own premiere day. This year’s selection includes four works by filmmakers who have been at IFFR before, such as Koko-di Koko-da, Johannes Nyholm’s nightmarish follow-up to The Giant, and No coração do mundo, a loving mosaic feature debut portraying the tough lives of the inhabitants of Contagem in Brazil by ;Gabriel Martins Alves and Maurílio Martins. Take Me Somewhere Nice by Dutch filmmaker Ena Sendijarević (Import) is a stylish tragi-comic road movie about a Bosnian-Dutch teenage girl looking for her estranged father. Carlos Marqués-Marcet (Anchor and Hope) brings Els dies que vindran, a fly-on-the-wall depiction of nine transformative months in the life of a pregnant couple.

For Present.Perfect., Shengze Zhu created a found-footage portrait of a generation using examples from the margins of China’s immense livestreamer scene. Danish filmmaker Ulaa Salim’s feature film debut Sons of Denmark is a political thriller set in Copenhagen, in which 19-year-old Zakaria slowly descends into radicalization. In Grigory Dobrygin’s Sheena667 the quiet life of a Russian man is turned upside down when he meets a girl from a faraway, unfamiliar world. Camila José Donoso’s Nona. If They Soak Me, I’ll Burn Them features her intriguing grandmother as an anarchist warrior in a Chilean town ravaged by forest fires.

Festival director Bero Beyer: “The fringes of the globalized world, a nightmarishly catchy children’s song and love and connection through ones and zeros – they all feature in the films selected for this year’s Tiger Competition: truly the forefront of off-beat, new approaches to cinema. This selection is a wonderful showcase of the imaginative ways in which today’s filmmakers try to comment on the world.”

IFFR 2019’s Tiger Jury consists of Chilean filmmaker and artist Alfredo Jaar; Daniela Michel, festival director of Morelia Film Festival; Katriel Schory, former director of the Israel Film Fund; Pimpaka Towira, Thai filmmaker/producer and program director of Singapore Film Festival; and Italian filmmaker Susanna Nicchiarelli. The Tiger Award is worth €40,000 and the Special Jury Award is worth €10,000.

The eight films selected for the Big Screen Competition vie for the VPRO Big Screen Award, which is worth €30,000 and guarantees a theatrical release in the Netherlands as well as broadcast on Dutch public TV network NPO. €15,000 is spent towards the winning film’s release and €15,000 goes towards the filmmaker’s next project. The jury consists of five avid festival-goers.

Selections include new documentary films by Penny Lane, Hail Satan?, and Anna Eborn, whose Transnistra is an intimate film about youths in the post-Soviet state of the same name. Anna Odell (The Reunion) returns with a provocative (gender) identity experiment, X&Y, and Belgium’s Anke Blondé brings a dry comedy drama, The Best of Dorien B.. Itay Tal’s God of the Piano is a suspenseful drama about a mother’s obsessive behaviour and high expectations for her son, Carlos Sorín’s Joel is a subtle adoption drama set in a small town in Patagonia, and May el-Toukhy’s Queen of Hearts is a hard-hitting and complex character study of a woman entering into an affair with her stepson. Bangla by Phaim Bhuiyan is a playful, personal romantic comedy about a second-generation immigrant in Rome. See below for an overview of the full selection.

The closing film of IFFR 2019 is The Hummingbird Project by Kim Nguyen, an existential thriller with Salma Hayek, Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skårsgard. The latter two play a pair of Wall Street geeks who come up with a bizarre but lucrative plan.

IFFR’s Talks & Masterclasses program features many filmmakers and other speakers, adding an extra layer to the festival. In addition to the previously announced Cliff Martinez, Carlos Reygadas, Guillermo Arriaga and Alfredo Jaar, 48th IFFR will see a masterclass by Claire Denis, whose new film High Life screens in Signatures, and a Big Talk by Sacha Polak, whose Dirty God opens the festival on 23 January. Polish filmmaker Agnieszka Holland will hold the annual Freedom Lecture (organized in collaboration with De Balie), UK film critic Anna Smith will host a live podcast entitled Girls on Film and Khalik Allah, whose film Black Mother screens in Bright Future, will hold a talk in collaboration with the World Press Photo Exhibition in Rotterdam. There will also be a masterclass by Jia Zhangke, whose Ash Is Purest White screens in Limelight, and a conversation with Francesca and Mica Levi. The choreographer of Gaspar Noé’s Climax, Nina McNeely, will give a talk and choreography workshop. Samson Wong will give a masterclass on his visual-effects work for the film Shadow by Zhang Yimou.

Tiger Competition

Sons of Denmark, Ulaa Salim, 2019, Denmark, world premiere

No coração do mundo, Gabriel Martins Alves/Maurílio Martins, 2019, Brazil, world premiere

Take Me Somewhere Nice, Ena Sendijarević, 2019, Netherlands/Bosnia and Herzegovina, world premiere

Present.Perfect., Shengze Zhu, 2019, USA/Hong Kong, world premiere

Sheena667, Grigory Dobrygin, 2019, Russia, world premiere

Nona. If They Soak Me, I’ll Burn Them, Camila José Donoso, 2019, Chile/Brazil/France/South Korea, world premiere

Koko-di Koko-da, Johannes Nyholm, 2018, Sweden/Denmark, international premiere

Els dies que vindran, Carlos Marqués-Marcet, 2019, Spain, world premiere

Big Screen Competition

Bangla, Phaim Bhuiyan, 2019, Italy, world premiere

The Best of Dorien B., Anke Blondé, 2019, Belgium, world premiere

God of the Piano, Itay Tal, 2019, Israel, world premiere

Hail Satan?, Penny Lane, 2018, USA, international premiere

Joel, Carlos Sorín, 2018, Argentina, European premiere

Queen of Hearts, May el-Toukhy, 2019, Denmark, European premiere

Transnistra, Anna Eborn, 2019, Sweden,world premiere

X&Y, Anna Odell, 2018, Sweden/Denmark,international premiere

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