The Tiger is finally here! International Film Festival Rotterdam, otherwise well known and recognizable for its tiger head logo, kicks off its 44th edition this Wednesday 21st January and brings a rich film feast until 1st February 2015.
It’s the 3rd year I’m attending it and I am extremely fond of this event. Only an experienced (former) film festival junkie can understand the rush of adrenalin from the Tiger arrival expectation. There is something about getting your hands/eyes on the festival program, spending days buried in it and slowly arriving to the festival schedule.
I would argue that before the days of Internet it was more fun. Good old pen and paper helping to work out the clashes, bearing in mind the time it would take to run from one cinema to another to catch the next film…sitting in front of a computer staring into the festival program screen is not quite the same. Who wouldn’t miss the tiring queues for the tickets only to find out that when it’s your turn, you’re left with slim pickings of films that are not yet fully sold-out. www.iffr.com is visually very appealing, you can see the trailers and click between various festival sections.
So what’s this Film Festival?
Tigertje has a long tradition and a strong fan base. The yearly attendance grows steadily and reached 287.000 visitors last year. In sharp contrast with its first edition in 1972, when only 17 people attended the opening night. It’ll be interesting to see how many will make their way into the cinema halls this year, in order to change the mental gear and let the screens take them to another dimension for an hour or more. The atmosphere is ever so important. You can have the best home cinema in your casa, yet nothing can beat seeing a powerful story with tens of other barely breathing people in the same space and bursting into spontaneous standing ovations when you resurface back into the reality. If you have no idea what I’m on about, then it’s probably not your cup of tea and it’s better to stay home and watch your daily portion of Netflix instead.
It is one of the most important events of the year on the cultural scene and most cinemas across city center of Rotterdam such as Oude Luxor, Pathe, De Doelen and Cinerama are participating. The overwhelming offer of 250+ films, from 50+ countries, across the spectrum of topics, festival sections and genres changes Rotterdam into a festival city and adds to its funkiness. One of the main competitions is the well-established Tiger award section with some promising titles such as the premiere of a Dutch film Gluckauf.
The opening and closing nights are often attended by the filmmakers and cast, discussing their work with the movie fans. Both nights tend to be sold out very quickly, however you can increase your chance of getting your hands on the tickets if you pre-register and become ‘Tiger friend’ which will set you back EUR 50/year. This status will also get you discounts on the rest of the tickets, so if you’re planning a film binge, it may pay for itself very quickly.
So what’s there to see?
The opening film this year is War Book, a political thriller with a chilling plot of a theoretical international nuclear attack that turns out to be closer to home than originally thought. If you, like me, didn’t get a ticket, the film is screening additional 3 days when you can catch it.
Given that the 10 days are packed with genres and topics of your wildest dreams or nightmares, it can be a little lengthy exercise navigating oneself through the full festival menu. IFFR recognizes this and offers a simplified self-help tool in a form of first aid where you can get diagnosed based on your preferences and get film suggestions tailored to your profile.
I wish I could see about 5 films every day as there are so many that sound interesting and promising. Some of my tips, apart from the opening night film are Inherent Vice, Angels of Revolution, Atlantic, Turist or I swear I’ll leave this town. The short films selection is also a great hit and some will be also featured as an opening to another full length film, so if you are lucky you get a bonus in the spirit of twee halen, een betalen.
IFFR is not to be missed, so whichever section, genre and story you pick, have fun sailing in the festival waters.