Keeping up with the New Jury

Do you remember the New Jury? 5 brilliant youngsters who decided which film should have won the first New Amour Award. After a crazy 2-day during film marathon in the cinema of  Worm and passionate film debates at the Roffa Mon Amour Head Quarters, they declared Merawi Gerima as the New Amour Award winner.

The last time we saw them was more than half a year ago, chattering in the sculpture garden of AVL Mundo. But how are they doing now? What has changed in these past months? We asked them to keep us up with their life adventures.

Vera Erykalova

What are you doing now? What has changed in your life since the last time we met?
To be honest, not much has changed, still living my lovely cinematography studies life in Brussels. I did go to New York for the first time last month to visit my friends, one of which is jury member Ari! It was a great experience, truly a very film-able city.

What’s a memory related to the New Jury experience that will stay with you?
The experience that will stay with me is probably the 2 days we spend in WORM watching films. That’s my favorite thing to do, and I found it very comfortable and fun: watching films, talking about them with people who also enjoy watching films 🙂

Can you tell us a film you’ve watched recently and you loved?
Recently I watched Lake Forest Park at IDFA. I loved the idea of the filmmaker: she recreated her memories. So it wasn’t a documentary in the traditional sense, because the whole film was scripted, but the film was based on her memories and it was shot also in the same places where she experienced these memories. Also aesthetically very pleasing!

Instagram: veraerykalova

Arend Verbrugh

What are you doing now? What has changed in your life since the last time we met?
I am still studying at WDKA, and I wouldn’t say that much has changed, but I have been making more art since the festival. It fueled me with inspiration and interest in film.

What’s a memory related to the New Jury experience that will stay with you?
A memory from the New Jury Experience that stayed with me was doing the Q&A with Merawi Gerima. It was really nice to see a film, think about it for a while, and then to be able to ask the questions you have about the process to the director. Also it helped that Merawi was a humble and nice guy :).

Can you tell us a film you’ve watched recently and you loved?
A film I recently watched and loved was; “Short Cuts” by Robert Altman. A long but eventful film that connects strangers with each other and shows mundane but critical slices of people’s lives. For me it defines the power of film.

Instagram:arendverb

Zeddrich Starke

What are you doing now?
I’m currently finishing my bachelor’s degree. I only need to pass 3 courses and then I’m finally done! Also I’m working on my IT company Nomad Coding and clothing brand Day ‘n Nite. With Nomad Coding I’m doing freelance coding work and I’m helping companies with their digital transition. I help them design an infrastructure such that they can use their data to enhance decision making. Besides my coding work I also love to be creative and that’s where I’m focussing on with Day ‘n Nite. Together with my companion I’m building a clothing brand that gives creatives a platform through which they can flourish and connect with each other. My companion and I believe that empathy is the missing link in social interactions, therefore we collaborate with other creatives to spread knowledge about empathy through art and fashion.

What has changed in your life since the last time we met?
The last time we met was during the summer of 2021. During that time you blessed me with a workshop given by Romy and since that time I’m working together with her on the Pulse. The pulse is something very dear to me because it thought my how to better listen to my intuition. This in turn gave me the freedom to really express myself through movement. So in short, my perspective on life changed since the last time we met.

What’s a memory related to the New Jury experience that will stay with you?
I have multiple memories of kind of the same situation that will stay with me for a long time. The conversations I had with the other jury members. At first I didn’t know much about film and how to assess a movie, however through conversations, I learned that there is much more than just the storyline. There is the way they filmed, the colours used and so much more. So after last year’s edition, I started to look at film from a different perspective and I keep learning new things from interviews from filmmakers. I also bought my own camera to play around with the concepts that I find. Can you tell us a film you’ve watched recently and you loved? The last film that I watched was Interstellar. It is an amazing film that does a great job at explaining complex physics in a human-friendly way. I would really recommend watching if you like physics or sci-fi.
Instagram: heyzedd

Ari Duong Nguyen

What are you doing now? What has changed in your life since the last time we met?
I’m living in New York now for my Master degree in Media Studies 🙂 RMA and the experience I had with The New Jury really made me realize how much I love writing about films and how much I want to delve further into it in the form of analysis/critique, so that’s what I’m focusing on now. Probably the biggest change for me, naturally, is moving away – being a part of the New Jury was one of the last things I did in Rotterdam and it made me regret so much not having been able to stick around longer for later editions of RMA, as well as the friends I’ve met from the experience!

What’s a memory related to the New Jury experience that will stay with you?
One memory that stuck out for me was definitely the two-day film marathon. I remember coming back home the first day and just felt so unreal; it was the opposite of exhausting, I felt like mentally I could hang around for a few more films to go. And meeting the other Jury members (in full formation) was wonderful – such lovely people, all passionate about cinema in their own ways.

Can you tell us a film you’ve watched recently and you loved?
A film that I have watched lately is Je, Tu, Il, Elle by Chantal Akerman. I actually watched that immediately after watching another Chantal Akerman film for class. It was extremely patient with how vulnerable the main character was. Also, amidst trying to settle into a new city and a new life pace, I really appreciated such slow cinema that took its time to unfold its story and character. I felt as lonely and confused as the character, but I also saw her as a wise companion throughout the film.

Instagram: tdnl_

Ezra Vogt

What are you doing now?
I’m busy with studying and trying to live up to my single NY resolution which is to travel as much as possible in 2022!

What’s a memory related to the New Jury experience that will stay with you?
It was such a special experience. I just love cinema so actually being allowed on a panel and express my view on films was humbling and enriching. I especially loved the interview we did with Merawi Gerima (Residue)

What has changed since the last time we met?
nothing much. Some days slightly lost, other days on a mission!

What’s a memory related to the New Jury experience that will stay with you?
Interviewing Merawi Gerima and watching the movies in the cinema-like surroundings at performance bar (or klauw, not sure what that location is called)

Can you tell us a film you’ve watched recently and you loved?
Sous le sable (François Ozon)

Instagram: ezrajo.el

happy new year!

What a year!

And just like that, we’re in 2022. This is the time of the year when people take stock of the work done in the previous year and make a list of all the good intentions for the new year. We don’ want to get you bored with those long lists no one cares about, but we want to celebrate all the good moments we had last year. We wished we could say 2021 was an amazing year, but let’s be honest, we all know how hard it was. Anyway, despite the lockdown and months of cinema being forced to stay closed, we are proud to say that Roffa Mon Amour was the light at the end of the tunnel, an amazing period of the year where our community met again by celebrating the passion that unites us: Cinema.  

The 9th edition of Roffa Mon Amour was great for many reasons. We couldn’t desire a better location than the eccentric sculpture garden of AVL Mundo. Besides, we met young brilliant film geeks such as the members of the New Jury who introduced the first of a long series of New Amour Awards. Let’s not forget the events we had outside the festival dates in collaboration with De Maaskantine, Stichting Architectuur Instituut Rotterdam AIR, and Paviljoen aan het Water. We even brought the Cinema Concerts together with Radio Operator and Go Short – International Short Film Festival Nijmegen to ADE, the coolest dance festival in The Netherlands.

Tell us what film touched you the most

At Roffa Mon Amour we want our films to leave you something special. Did you laugh, cry, had fun, get emotional, get angry, or did any of our films just touch your soul in a particular way? Please let us know what film touched you the most by answering this form.

Future plans

All the achievements we reached last year are giving us energy and enthusiasm to prepare the 10th edition of Roffa Mon Amour. Well yes, Roffa Mon Amour is going to put its first 10 candles on the cake, and we couldn’t be more excited to celebrate its birthday. Although it’s still too early to give you spoilers, expect to celebrate it with unforgivable film screenings and much more!

The Pulse

Film moves us and to establish new cinematic experiences Roffa Mon Amour started a collaboration with THE PULSĖ & Garage Rotterdam. 

ABOUT THE PULSĖ

This summer THE PULSĖ kicks off with a weekly break to spark your imagination, to fill your body with joy, and create a space for new friendships to blossom.

Do you remember the sense of aliveness after a first kiss, when tasting your favorite dish, or when you laughed so loud it made you cry? Our bodies can create these feelings on purpose when we give them permission to do so.

The feeling of aliveness is contagious and that is the sweet spot we explore during THE PULSĖ nights at Garage. Guided by soundscapes and moving images a multilayered experience will exist.

We invite curious and open minds to playful movement sessions at a former car garage transformed into a gallery known as Garage Rotterdam.

LOCATION 

Garage Rotterdam, Goudsewagenstraat 27

DATES

Thursday, July 22, Tickets here
Thursday, July 29, Tickets here
Thursday, Augustus 05, Tickets here
Thursday, Augustus 12, Tickets here
Thursday, Augustus 19, Tickets here

TIME
20:00 – 21:30

PRACTICAL INFO

∘ No talking

∘ No drugs/alcohol

∘ Barefoot

∘ Respect yourself and one another

SEE ALL TICKETS

CREDITS

Photo: Florine van Rees

Styling: Serena Zom

Models: Terrell, Eline, Geneau, Weia, Tim, Jewel, Jasmijn

Meet The New Jury of RMA 2021!

For the first time ever, we have a youth jury on board. The New Jury will take a critical look at our films in competition, follow workshops by film professionals and decide which of the New Makers will go home with The New Amour Award. We have found five fantastic youngsters to form The New Jury, and we proudly present them to you here. To get to know them, we asked them a few burning questions…

Arend Verbrugh

Our first jury member is Arend. He is a 22-year-old photography student at the Willem de Kooning Academy. Arend loves film so much that he has made it a challenge for himself to watch a new film every day.
Favourite film: La Haine (1995) by Mathieu Kassovitz
What film moved you the most last year and why?
“Sound of Metal; As someone who suffers from tinnitus, I was blown away by this film. It shows an intimate look into a deaf community, and with the insane performances by the actors, you get drawn into this world and its problems. It really reminded me why telling stories and making films is so important.”
Why are you looking forward to joining The New Jury?
“I can talk about films for hours, so I can’t wait to discuss the films we’re going to see at the open-air film festival with the other members of the New Jury. Ranking movies is different though, so picking a winner for the New Amour Award is going to be very difficult. But I think this New Jury will do a great job.”
Instagram: arendverb

Ari Duong Nguyen

Our second jury member is the 21-year-old Ari. Ari was born and raised in Hanoi, Vietnam and she has been living in Rotterdam since she was 17 years old. Right now, Ari is taking a gap year after studying at Erasmus University College for three years with a major in Visual Cultures and Media Literacy.
Favorite film: 
“My all-time favorite film is definitely Synecdoche, New York (2008) by Charlie Kaufman. It’s the one film that I could really feel within my body, like some kind of weight of existence. The screenplay is so good that I religiously reread it like a literary masterpiece.”
What film moved you the most last year and why?
“I was really struck by The Vertical Ray of the Sun by Tran Anh Hung. In the film, in its world and story and characters, I see silhouettes of what I’ve always known, growing up Vietnamese. However, that intuition was reinterpreted so gently and sensually by Tran Anh Hung: I’ve never seen Vietnamese relationships, conflicts, and sentiments told in such a visual language before!”
Why are you looking forward to joining The New Jury?
“I’m looking forward to joining Roffa Mon Amour this summer because it really has everything I love wholeheartedly: summer nights, (open!) cinema, Rotterdam. I also have never experienced a film festival from this perspective before, and all first-times are exciting!”
Instagram: tdnl_

Ezra Vogt

The 21-year-old Ezra is our third jury member. Ezra is a first-year medicine student at Erasmus University Rotterdam who does modeling work on the side. The themes that Ezra values in film are sexuality, spirituality, and psychology.
Favorite film: The Holy Mountain (1973) by Alejandro Jodorowski
What film moved you the most last year and why?
“Climax (2018) by Gaspar Noe: A group of international dancers gathers in an empty school building to rehearse and celebrate. But once they learn one of their own has spiked the sangria with LSD, well… shit goes down. If you’re wondering what a ‘bad trip’ feels like, but don’t quite want to experience it yourself, I would absolutely recommend this masterpiece of aesthetic horror. Intense, chilling, hallucinatory and so French! I was absolutely captivated.”
Why are you looking forward to joining The New Jury?
“As the jury, we get to get immersed into an extensive body of films and decide which filmmaker will take home the prestigious award. This is a whole challenge, as there’s no framework to define what makes a good film! I’m full of energy and excitement to meet the other jury members and ultimately discuss art with a critical but very open-minded eye. We’re all from different walks of life and I’m curious to see which perspectives we can all bring to the table.”
Instagram: ezrajo.el

Vera Erykalova

Our fourth jury member is Vera. She is a 21-year-old cinematography student at RITCS in Brussels, who grew up in Rotterdam. We have met Vera at Roffa Mon Amour before when she was our loyal volunteer at Weelde in 2020.
Favorite film: To Live and Die in LA (1985) by William Friedkin
What film moved you the most last year and why?
“Chronicles of a Summer (Chronique d’un été, 1961). This film investigates the influence a camera can have on the behavior of people, it puts people under a magnifying glass. The film leaves from the idea that people are probably not their ‘real-life’ selves on camera, but they are a different, performing version of themselves. I was touched by the insecurities and irrationalities of the people portrayed, to me this film is a reflection of the world and the persons living in it.”
Why are you looking forward to joining The New Jury?
“I’m excited to join The New Jury because I have been loving the RMA programming and I am curious to see what pearls there will be this year. Also talking about and discussing films with new people that are also passionate about films is something I really like to do. I have never really been a part of a film jury before (of course I have been judging films), so I’m looking forward to that! And watching great films in the open summer air!”
Instagram: veraerykalova

Zeddrich Starke

Our fifth jury member is the 23-year-old Zedd. Zedd was born in Suriname and he grew up in The Netherlands. While almost being graduated as a programmer, Zedd also has his own ICT and clothing business.
Favorite film:
“My all-time favorite “wake-me-up-when-you-watch-this-otherwise-I-will-get-mad” film is Inception (2010) by Christopher Nolan.”
What film moved you the most last year and why?
“A film that really moved me last year is a Turkish film called ‘Paper Lives’. It’s about a sick man who collects garbage in the neighborhood with homeless youth. The reason that this film moved me so much is the message that when someone is traumatized from their childhood, and they don’t get the right help and love, there is a chance that this person keeps lingering at this age. In other words, a 30-year-old man can still be 13 in his head.”
Why are you looking forward to joining The New Jury?
“I’m mainly very curious about joining The New Jury this summer. I’m curious about the knowledge that will be shared with me and the people that I will meet. I’m very grateful to be a part of this festival.”
Instagram: heyzedd

call: the new jury

Want to have a say about films? Be part of a festival jury? Present the very first New Amour Award? Become a jury member of The New Jury!

We are looking for three youngsters who will form The New Jury 2021. For the first time, we give Rotterdam film lovers the opportunity to watch RMA films, to decide which filmmaker will take home the New Amour Award. So, if you are a film freak with a critical eye and you are in the mood for a cultural summer project, we invite you to become a jury member at Roffa Mon Amour 2021! The application deadline is June 1. 

Find the full description and sign up here!

_____

Wil jij meepraten over films? Onderdeel zijn van een festivaljury? De eerste New Amour Award uitreiken? Word jurylid in The New Jury!

Wij zoeken drie jongeren die samen de The New Jury 2021 vormen. Voor het eerst bieden we Rotterdamse filmliefhebbers de kans de films uit het programma van Roffa Mon Amour te bekijken, om samen te beslissen welke filmmaker met de New Amour Award naar huis gaat. Dus, ben je een filmfreak met een kritische blik en heb je zin in een cultureel, zomers uitstapje, dan nodigen we je uit om jurylid te worden tijdens de 9e editie van Roffa Mon Amour. De deadline om je aan te melden is 1 juni. 

Bekijk de oproep en meld je hier aan!

la haine (1995): a hybrid, heterogeneous cultural patchwork.

By Floris Mosselman

In 1995 Mathieu Kassovitz introduced Western Europe to aspects of urban France that was until then, scarcely available to most of the general public. He did this through La Haine (Hate), his second directional feature-film about three men in Chanteloup-les-Vignes, a Paris banlieu. We follow Vinz, Said and Hubert for 24 hours after a violent riot happened in their neighborhood and in which the police severely wounded a friend who is now in the hospital. The film is based on actual events.

La Haine presents a more close-up view of the banlieu and its daily reality and interaction of its inhabitants with the police and the rest of society to a broader public. Many people only knew (and still know) these neighborhoods through their newspapers or tv screens, from camera crews filming from behind the riot police. In the most ‘hot’ or highly active part of these neighborhoods (les quartier chauds), the riot police have an almost permanent presence as can also be seen in the movie which focuses heavily on the relation between these men and the police.

Through its rough camerawork, setting, street-wise dialogue and emotional and tense situations the movie feels very real for most of its viewers and it immediately became a hit in France. It actually seemed so real, that The Interior Minister and Prime Minister of France supposedly watched it three times in order to understand the underlying causes of the riots the film is based upon. They even ordered the whole Parliament to watch it. I don’t really know if this should be seen as something positive, in the sense that these statesmen were genuinely interested in what was going on in their own backyard, or as something negative, in the sense that these men had absolutely no clue how to deal with these neighborhoods so they turned to a movie.

This suburb of Paris like many other neighborhoods of big cities in Western Europe are characterized by the collapse of models of productivity built on factories and workers. These workers were imported from other countries or came from former colonies. Most of these men and women were perfect for the simple jobs at hand; they worked hard, took care of their own communities were content with what they got and needed minimal education or other investments from the state. Modernity rushed forward however, and within a few decades more favorable production conditions were found elsewhere, leaving these neighborhoods with extremely high unemployment rates, low educational levels, increasing relative poverty and all its consequences.

The movie sparked a lot of debate on how these suburbs and social housing projects were handled by the government and the police brutality that was going on there. For the most part the film was received positively, but there were also critical voices. Some critics from the hip-hop community remarked that Mathieu Kassovitz was not seen as authentic enough, because his film was so stylized and cinematic literate that he was not ‘keeping it real’. According to others, he could not speak for the banlieu as he was clearly from a bourgeois, leftist family and had not really experienced that environment. Others however praised him for staying true to the realities of the communities, also because the La Haine project was not just a movie, but also a CD in which local hip-hop artists give their own views on the subject of the film and a photo exhibition showing the production process of the film in the neighborhood. According to some, the film is not just made by an ‘insider’ or an ‘outsider’, a ‘high’ or a ‘low’ cultural production, a ‘white’ or a ‘black’ movie: it is a hybrid, heterogeneous cultural patchwork.

I tend to agree with this last statement, although the debate of being able to represent someone else’s life-experiences is still ongoing. Actually I am more interested in why people want to see this movie, and why they like or dislike it and its characters. And if we think this is a proper depiction of the banlieu, isn’t watching this movie comparable to the controversial ‘neighborhood safaris’ we have here in Rotterdam, in which people that are interested in a poor neighborhood and its people, are ‘safely’ walked around so they can look intrigued at its ‘authentic’ inhabitants. And finally, almost 25 years after its release, is viewing this film and forming an opinion about it (again) enough? Can people watch this and go home telling themselves ‘now I understand how these people act and feel’ while still not being able to interact naturally with some young men that are standing on the streets. I look forward to learning about all your views and telling you about my research, the movie and why I think it is hard for some people to interact with those from neighborhoods with a different cultural and socio-economic environment.

Floris Mosselman studies the way groups of young adults give meaning to – and embody – conflict situations. After graduating in Cultural Sociology he worked at the Netherlands Institute of Crime and Law Enforcement mapping how robberies unfold using video analysis. As a PhD candidate he is now part of the Group Violence Research Program at the University of Amsterdam. Headed by Don Weenink they focus on how group behavior affects the likelihood and severity of violence.
At Roffa Mon Amour, Floris talks about how La Haine (1995) was received back when the film came out, and how the film could be watched today.

interview: caroline poggi and jonathan vinel on jessica forever

“In an apocalyptic world, a Lara Croft-like mother-figure takes care of a group of outlaw orphan boys who are on the run from murderous drones.”

Directors Caroline Poggi and Jonathan Vinel met in university in Paris where they separately worked on short films but always supported and advised each other.
In 2014 their first collaboration came out, the short film Tant qu’il nous reste des fusils à pompe. The film was selected in Berlinale’s prestigious short program where it even won the Golden Bear. This gave them the opportunity to create a first feature-length film: Jessica Forever which premiered in Berlinale 2019.

[Caroline] “Working together, we have the same kind of characters, locations, diverse facts in mind. We take every step together, from writing to editing. The preparation is maybe even more intense than the shooting of the film. We both need to know exactly where we need to place the camera and how we need to direct the actors. Preparing well allows us to shoot fast and also provides us from fighting in front of the team [laughs].”

[RMA] Jessica Forever was received well in the film media. Hollywood Reporter described the film as somewhere between art-house and grindhouse, what do you think of that description?

[Jonathan] I think it’s the best description for this film! We do not consider ourselves merely ‘cinephiles’. We are influenced by a lot of other stuff like the Internet and video games. Jessica Forever is somewhere in between contemporary art and cinema. I think the fact that people feel the film is lost between genres is another way to show that some films don’t belong anywhere. It was inspired by lots of different styles.

[RMA] How did u come up with this super interesting idea of Jessica Forever?

[Jonathan] One of the first things that we wanted to talk about was people being rejected by society because they have committed a horrible crime. We asked ourselves; is there a possibility of redemption? Jessica Forever was a way for us to racheter [ed: redeem] the people who committed horrible crimes and try to help them find a place. And eventually, even to help them find beauty.

[Jonathan] It also came from our desire to talk about a recomposed family. People feeling isolated and who are looking to build a new, heartfelt family in a new world with their own rules.
Together with Jessica, the characters are able to reconnect with something ‘pure’. She symbolizes light and hope.
The two words that are the most important in the film are ‘orphan’ and ‘monster’. We aimed at telling a simple story in a fantastical contemporary universe taking images of our ‘own’ world: the suburb, the beach, the forest, and the muscular man. We aimed at placing those images in a legend, a more in-temporal and universal place. Our influences come from a lot of different places. We like cinema obviously, but we also love music, video games, Internet, Tumblr, Instagram. We don’t write with cinematographic words, and maybe that’s why this movie is a hybrid between contemporary cinema and many other forms, images and types of screens that we grew up with.

[RMA] We also screen Yann Gonzalez’s Knife + Heart (2018) this year, another film that toys with genres. And in 2018, we programmed Bertrand Mandico’s Les Garçons Sauvages (2017), another film with the flair of contemporary art. Maybe it is a bit early to conclude, but could there be a new kind of movement in France that likes to mix ‘genre’ with interdisciplinary art forms?

[Caroline] We are well connected with Bertrand and Yann. I don’t know how to explain; maybe we are close to a sort of belief in a precise universe with characters that are ‘pure’. We share a love for form and shape and we want to try, to experiment. I think it is where we are all connected, in a cinema that is not naturalist.

[Jonathan] Nowadays, it is way more tolerated to toy with genre cinema. It used to be underappreciated because it was not noble and sacred. It was something for the beauf [ed: people having bad taste]. Now it has become cool, so it is about fashion and movement. Films like ours are now tolerated and are even well received.

[RMA] How did you decide to use the drones? For me, they are deeply connected to modern war.

[Jonathan] Drones have two very different logics. They are an object of war and terror but also of leisure and fun. We were looking for an object that could incarnate the enemy in a universal way. They have a similar meaning as the birds in The Birds (1963) by Hitchcock. What scares people is that these objects are not rational. You can’t project anything, you cannot identify with them, so they easily become the ‘enemy’.

[Caroline] Drones are completely melting into our world. You cannot see them, like the Hitchcock birds they are invisible, a surveillance camera.

We tried to create a drone in a contemporary manner: small and deathly, between an animal and a machine, able to place in a heroic-fantasy. If you look closer, the drones have spikes, they have a sort of medieval armor and they fly like insects, not like actual drones.

Jessica Forever will be distributed in Dutch cinemas in fall 2019.

Interview by: Charlotte Van Zanten

interview: partho sen-gupta on slam

While interviewing Partho on his third feature film, he expresses his appreciation for selecting his most recent film Slam (2018). Why? We wonder. We are the ones who should be grateful he made this film and we are very happy to be able to add it to our special program Activism Now!
But somehow Slam (2018) is not being selected in European festivals. And that’s strange, because it was one of the rare films that was both selected for Cinemart – IFFR’s co-production market – and after, also for Berlin’s co-production market. Producers and its financing was found easily and the story didn’t change since, but both festivals didn’t select the end-result. How is that possible?[Partho] I think that there is a serious problem of inherent Islamophobia that exists in people’s minds. I mean, one can see the way things are going with the European elections. And I think that’s a serious problem. I can’t give it any other explanation. Slam was a French co-production but the film has no distributor in France. When I spoke with the distributor who did Sunrise (2014) – a Muslim Tunisian woman – she said she liked the film but the rest of the office was against the film. That’s an almost violent reaction. They didn’t say: “We don’t like the film”, but “We hate the film. We are against it.”

[RMA] But it’s also a really strong emotion you evoke with your film. Don’t get me wrong, but I think Slam makes a more impression on a younger audience. That’s why it’s a perfect fit with our festival. I believe our audience will be blown away by the film and moreover learn from it.

[Partho] That’s exactly on my mind; I think that it’s an age thing. The older generation is ruling the festivals in the world; I’m very excited to see how young people react to this.

[RMA] Maybe young people can emphasize more easily with the character whereas the (white) older generation, might be offended by the way you, for example, depict white men.

[Partho] That’s right; I think that’s the problem. In Europe we always want to relate racism to Nazis or skinheads, the extreme. But what I wanted to show was that there is an inherent racism in our society and that this everyday racism happens all the time and that that guy is not always a Nazi. I wanted to make a film about violence, not just about racism.

[RMA] Sometimes watching something is more confronting than when you read on paper.

[Partho] I think in retrospect that in their minds, they still thought that it was a film about radicalization. I don’t think they realized what I was trying to say. They didn’t see that whiteness was being accused of something.
Most liberals believe that they’re on our sides. And if you accuse them then they get really angry: “Oh, how dare you tell me”. But I’m not accusing anyone; I’m just saying this is how it exists. This is how it gets constructed. It’s about the everyday little things that happen, that make this work. There is violence, there are assholes everywhere, and there are extremists everywhere. You can’t just blame a whole community for that. You can’t blame every young woman who’s walking on the road in the hijab as being part of some kind of Islamic Republic. As I can’t blame every white person I meet on the street to be some kind of Nazi. It doesn’t work like that.

[RMA] Compared to Sunrise where you had very little dialogue to explain what’s happening, Slam is an audience-friendly and dialogue-driven film.

[Partho] I was asked to make it more accessible, by the French and Australian producers. But it was not only that. Slam gives a voice to a group of people that has never been depicted in cinema before. Look at what just happened in Cannes! The Dardenne Brothers were selected with a film [Le Jeune Ahmed (2019)] about a small kid that radicalizes. I haven’t seen the film yet, but what I read from the reviews is that there is no explanation on why the child gets radicalized.
This film got the Prix de la mise en scéne – the Best Director Award! Though they got terrible reviews, and everyone says: there is no explanation on why is this little boy suddenly gets radicalized. There is NO explanation given by the brothers. It’s the hatred: you’re born like that and there’s no way out.

[RMA] Did you base Slam on some actual events or the several stories that you hear all the time?

[Partho] Yes and no. I did not base it on anything that happened, but unfortunately things are happening which are based on the film.
When I just arrived in Australia I went to a poetry slam in Western Sydney where I shot the film. Western Sydney, Bankstown is a suburb, which has the largest Muslim population. There is an art center, where they hold a poetry slam. 80 percent of the poets are Muslim poets, mainly Muslim women poets.
I watched a section and there was a woman in a hijab who came and started saying these crazy, strong words and I was really impressed. The image that the media gives you about hijabi women is that they’re weak and it’s all about the men and they have no voice and I was like: wow, this is really a contrast. Visually and cinematographically it was inspiring and I realized: I have to do something – I don’t know what – but I have to do something. And I said: what happens if she disappears tonight? That experience was the beginning of the story and how I started writing years ago.

Interview by: Charlotte Van Zanten

interview: markus schleinzer on angelo

“Costume drama about a young black boy who is kidnapped from his home country to serve as a mascot for Austria’s aristocrats” 

Director Markus Schleinzer was more in love with theater than cinema when he was young. For him it was the true form of art, whereas cinema was a lie as its actors never had to adjust to the moment. That was until a friend showed him Peter Greenaway’s Drowning by Numbers (1988). He was 15 years old, did not understand a single word of the film but felt like a bus had hit him.
He started watching more independent and European cinema.
Accidentally, he got into the casting world where he stayed for almost two decades and worked with directors such as Ulrich Seidl and Michael Haneke. In 2011 his first feature film Michael came out, Angelo (2018) is his second film.

[RMA] How come you decided to start making your own films?

[Markus] As a child I grew up with little borders. I had the feeling that I could be part of any discussion. So, maybe this is the reason I was not used to ‘stay on my side’. As a casting director, I read the script and when I didn’t understand something I would go to the director and explain what I found interesting and what I could not understand. I would present a scene in a way that I thought could be more intriguing and natural for the actors.
Writing became part of my job and often I would be asked to come to the set and help direct a scene because the directors felt they could not do it the way I had presented it in the office.
At the age of 26, I met Michael Haneke for the first time. I worked on six or seven films with him. From the beginning he gave me a lot of opportunities. When we did The Piano Teacher (2001) with Isabelle Huppert, I was on set most of the time to direct all the extras.
When we did The White Ribbon (2009), he gave me the opportunity to not only cast but also direct all the children on set. And after we finished he told me: “OK, now it’s time to move on. Write your own script and finally make your own movie.”
So, that’s how – at the age of thirty-eight – I became a director.

[RMA] Your first feature film was called Michael (2011) and your second one Angelo (2018). In both films you follow the (real) lives of two men. Could you tell us more about Angelo Soliman? How did you stumble upon his story and what intrigued you to decide that you wanted to make a feature film about him?

[Markus] What I’m mostly interested in are outsiders. You can become an outsider pretty easily; it does not take much. I’ve always been intrigued by characters who want to go somewhere but are not able to, because of taboos or repressions from society. Both men in their own way represent these outsiders.
As mentioned before, I like films that deal with mixed media. Peter Greenaway came from painting. In his work he makes various references to paintings. If you’re not an expert you cannot decode them, but you can still see all of this superb artworks.
But making Michael (2011) I could not explore this path, as I did not want to make a film about a child locked away in a basement where everything is beautifully shot. That would have been disgusting. It had to be dry and sober and not beautiful or sexy at all.
After this film, I decided it was time to do something in which I could bring beauty. Angelo Soliman is a famous figure in Vienna, Austria and I grew up with a lot of stories about him. I started my research and soon found out that most of the stories I learnt in my childhood were wrong. This human being was used by the Austrian society, but never given the chance to tell his own story.
People always said he was grateful to our society which gave him the opportunity to make something out of his life and that at the end of his days he donated his own skin because he was so grateful. It is something I doubt very much. There were people who said he was a great example of a well-done immigration job. How can you use this man as a good immigration example? He was kidnapped; it is a crime. He did not decide to come here for a better life. We forced him. He came to Austria just to shine for us and not for himself. He was an ornament.

[RMA] It must have been confronting to have your childhood stories crushed like this.

[Markus] Stories often become truer than the truth itself. I think it was Orson Welles who once said that the Vienna that does not exist is the most beautiful.

[RMA] Was it hard to find the ‘true’ story about Angelo Soliman?

[Markus] No, very easy. When you know where you have to go you can find it, but it’s not a loud voice. There are plenty of scientists and experts working on him, but what they have to tell is not as interesting as the huge amount of sweet little stories.
For a while, Angelo worked for the count of Liechtenstein. In the house of Liechtenstein – which still exists – there was a very interesting book in which they wrote down what they spent. So, that much for horses and that much for carriages and things like this. And in every year, there’s also one column for Angelo Soliman. You can read what kind of presents they bought him, like a feather for his head and new shoes.
They had this part in the book for every servant who worked there, male and female. And after every name there is the job description. So, you have Mr. Charlie Hoover, servant number one and Duke Palast servant number two. The titles of the job for Angelo Soliman change every year and are confusing. One year he is a ‘bywalker’ who you could take a walk with whenever you wanted. The next year he is someone to chat with, like an old lady. Or someone who can read you a book.
It seems like they did not know how to name his job. As I said before, he was just there to be an ornament. But for me, in the end, Angelo was a true actor.  He was brought to Austria, to play for us in different ways. Whenever we wanted him, he had to come and have this monologue about an Africa that never existed. And we dressed him the way he had to be and the way he had to react and the way he had to shine, it was also a part of his role.

Interview by: Charlotte Van Zanten