Mosquito directed by João Nuno Pinto will open the 49th International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR 2020). A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood by Marielle Heller will be the closing night film of IFFR 2020.
Portuguese filmmaker João Nuno Pinto’s Mosquito can be described as a ‘war film without war’, and sheds new light on an often-overlooked episode from World War I. It follows a 17-year-old Portuguese recruit who gets lost in the African wilderness in 1917. A feverish, hallucinatory journey ensues. In addition to being the opening film, Mosquito also competes in the Big Screen Competition.
Dreaming of great adventures, seventeen-year-old Zacarias, enlists with the Portuguese army during World War I and is sent to war in Africa. Soon after arriving in Mozambique to keep a Portuguese colony secure from German forces, he’s left behind at basecamp while his platoon leaves for Niassa – intoxicated with malaria.
What follows is a solitary journey like a cold fever. Loneliness, hunger, exhaustion and the effects of malaria are increasingly confusing. What is real and what is a hallucination? The non-chronologically-told Mosquito is a visually overwhelming war film without war. The frontline is elsewhere, but perhaps also in Zacarias’s head. Filmmaker João Nuno Pinto removes an often overlooked part of the war from oblivion. A story inspired by his own grandfather, who fought for the Portuguese in World War I.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood follows journalist Lloyd Vogel (played by Matthew Rhys) who is tasked to write an article on the beloved American television icon Fred Rogers (played by Tom Hanks). Vogel is cynical at first, but the journalist’s encounters with Mister Rogers eventually teach him how to handle his carefully hidden feelings.
The film is based on a 1998 Esquire magazine profile on Fred Rogers entitled ‘Can You Say Hero?’. Biographical films usually want to expose their subject, but not A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. It is, in fact, Vogel’s façade that is broken – the encounters that the cynical journalist has with Mister Rogers teach him how to handle his carefully hidden feelings. With this fairytale-like film full of clever visual finds, filmmaker Marielle Heller cleverly balances the edge. A film like a warm bath in which the greatest cynic can immerse themselves.