Les Amours Imaginaires

Part farce, part exploration of the complexity of love and desire, Les Amours Imaginaires centers on two close friends, Francis and Marie , who find themselves fighting for the affections of the same angel-like young man . The more intimate the trio becomes, the more unattainable the object of their infatuation seems, sending the friends’ obsession into overdrive almost destroying their friendship. Xavier Dolan’s sexy and stylish Les Amours Imaginaires is a comic exploration of a romantically obsessed menage-a-trois.

Heartbeats (aka Les Amours Imaginaires) was directed, written, and edited by wunderkind Xavier Dolan, who also co-stars as Francis; the film was an official selection at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival and a big hit.

Killer of Sheep

“This bitter earth, may not be so bitter after all”. 

 

These lyrics come from one of the tremendous songs in Killer of Sheep describing living in the 70s in Watts, a deprived neighbourhood in South LA mostly inhabited by African-Americans. During this song Stan dances with his wife (She goes unnamed which is perhaps the only critical note: why?!) in their small apartment. The dancing is one of the blissful moments that typify Stans world; life is tough, possessions are scarce and bills can hardly be paid but there is family love and warmth.
In the hood criminal activities are present, but that’s not what Charles Burnet wanted to show. He rejected the Blaxploitation view of Afro-American stereotypes. Instead, Killer of Sheep depicts the real lives filmed in a pure, observational style which refers to Italian neorealism.

 

Charles Burnett, member of the L.A. Rebellion film group, shot Killer of Sheep on 16 mm with his friends in the cast. It was 1978 and part of his graduation project at film school UCLA. The scarce budget of  $10.000 did not allow Burnett to afford the music rights of  Dinah Washington, Earth Wind and Fire and many other great black American musicians. So Killer of Sheep wasn’t officially released but became an underground hit. In 2007 the UCLA Film Archives re-released the work paying off the music rights for the whole world to discover this cinematic masterpiece with mandatory American music history lessons.

Opening Night

The reason Myrtl Gorden is such a phenomenal actress is that she makes a character her own. But in the midst of rehearsing her latest play this talent might become her downfall…

 

In a constant hazy state of mind, the border between what is real and what isn’t becomes less clear every minute. And when she witnesses the deathly accident of a young adoring fan she starts spiraling down even further. Opening Night (1977) is the psychological portrait of a drunken actress questioning her profession, age and life itself. 

 

Film couple Gena Rowlands and director John Cassavetes met in the early 50’s in New York, where both attended the American Academy of Drama Arts. She wasn’t interested in love -too focused on her career- ; but he was a romantic and not giving up on her. They started working together and were married in 1954. 

Smashing a producer in the face who secretly edited his work, Cassavetes soon burned all his bridges in Hollywood. Both purist pur sang, the couple found themselves in – at that time unheard of – fully self financed productions, shot in friend and family homes with borrowed cameras. Cassavetes is seen as the pioneer of independent cinema. 

Opening Night is just one of their phenomenal collaborations. Cassavetes and Rowland made 10 films together before his early death in 1989.

 

The Cloud in her Room

Chinese New Year is ahead and the 22-year old Muzi returns to her hometown Hangzhou – a 10-million citizens capital which has been duplicated since 2005. 

 

She visits places from her past, the apartment she grew up in and her parents who divorced and who have started new lives. The objects and people are still there,  but she feels estranged from them. The Cloud in her Room welcomes you into Muzi’s mind. We explore her thoughts and desires, sometimes with her college boyfriend, then with an older and charismatic local bar owner. Personal conversations and sensual sex scenes are filmed in black and white with fast changing contemporary China at the background.

 

With her impressive personal feature debut Zheng Lu Xinyuan investigates the concept of relationships. Friends, children and parents, girlfriend and boyfriend: we are all connected t, but in the end we are alone. This pressing feeling of loneliness seems the aftermath of China’s single child policy in which Zheng grew up.
The Cloud in her Room won the Tiger Award Competition at IFFR 2020.

English subtitles

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

If there is one film that fits our tagline Your most eccentric outrageous cinema, it is the bold post- punk, neo-glam rock & road musical: Hedwig and the Angry Inch! 

 

The “internationally ignored” stage diva Hedwig – formerly known as Hansel, a German girly boy – undergoes a sex change operation just so she can marry an American soldier to be able to leave East Berlin for a better life in the west. The operation is botched and leaves Hedwig with an – in her own words – “barbie doll crotch; I’ve got an angry inch”. Not even a year later her husband runs off with another man and the Berlin wall falls. 

Looking for true love and recognition as a musician, she travels through The States singing in depressing seafood restaurants. No matter how hopeless life may seem: Hedwig finds an output in her (amazing) music and continues to see a bright side to everything. 

“I had tried singing once and they threw tomatoes so after the show I had a nice salad.”

Hedwig and the Angry Inch was a theatre musical at first, but writer, director and actor (Hedwig!) John Cameron Mitchell was proposed to turn it into a film. He worked in the script in the Sundance script lab and won many prizes with his musical. We are so happy to be screening this raw diamond. <3 

Incendies

Note: this screening has Dutch subtitles

After their secretive mother, Nawal, passes away the twins Jeanne and Simon find out at the notary that their presumed dead father is still alive and that they have a brother. Nawal’s final request: to deliver both of them a letter… 

 

Confused, they travel towards a fictional country in the Middle-East – a place completely unknown to them –  to uncover the hidden history of their mother. While we follow the twins struggling towards their final discovery, we watch flashbacks in which the dramatic story of the young Nawal unfolds. 

 

Incendies is adapted from Wajdi Mouawad acclaimed theatre play Scorched – also adapted by Ro Theater in 2010 as Branden. When Villeneuve watched the play in 2004 he was astonished by its emotional power. His film Incendies touches the audience with similar feelings leaving you perplext after its climax.
Dennis Villeneuve (Arrival, Blade Runner 2049, Enemy) 4th feature Incendies is internationally praised and received many prestigious film awards. Though set against the violent background of a civil war, Incendies isn’t about politics, but about  family.

 

Identifying Features

It’s been two months since Magdalena’s son Jesus left Mexico together with his friend Ringo for a better life in the United States and she hasn’t heard from him since.
At the police station she is shown a binder with photographs of departed bodies and limbs. Ringo is in it, Jesus not. Determined, she decides to go find him. 


At an identification centre closer to the border, she is recommended to sign for his death certificate but after talking to another mother who has been waiting for her son for four years, she refuses. With a few new hints from informants her journey continues across rural Mexico, the wilderness too desolate to guarantee her safety. On her way she meets Miguel, who is deported from the US, and who is on his way to his mother. She lives in a border village but upon their arrival they find out it has been assaulted by gang violence.

Breathtaking shots of Mexican landscapes are alternated by a constant threat for cartel violence. Storage containers loaded with death bodies covered with black plastic illustrate the severity of the human trafficking crisis that concerns all classes of Mexican families.With her debut feature length film Fernanda Valadez won two awards at Sundance 2020: the Audience Award and Special Jury Award for Best Screenplay in the World Cinema Dramatic competition.

English subtitles

Atlantique

Atlantique follows the two young lovers Ada and Souliman. At first their love seems innocent and sweet, but behind the scenes we soon find out its nothing like that… 

 

Ada is about to marry a rich man she doesn’t love while Souliman plans on leaving the country in search for a better life – he works a hard job in construction and hasn’t received his salary for months.
When the two part a mysterious fever breaks out, turning life in the city upside down. Issa, a young, ambitious policeman, starts an investigation. 

Atlantique already came out in Dutch cinemas, but we program this film in our New Makers selection for two (plus 100) reasons.
First of all this film blew us away. It is visually stunning, there is magical, unique storytelling and the sound-score is amazing. It made us realise how 3-dimensional film can be stimulating all of our senses. Candy for our eyes and ears, feeding our heart, soul and brain.
The second reason is that the visitor numbers were disappointing. Hello Dutch people, what were you doing!? You missed the film of the year. Luckily you have one more chance, so you better be there! 

English subtitles

 

Beasts Clawing at Straws

A Louis Vuitton bag loaded with cash connects three unfortunate characters in need for money. A man discovers the bag in a locker while on duty at the hotel-sauna. This bag could be the solution for financial stress and family irritations at home so he decides to hide it… 

 

Somewhere else in town a loan shark chases a custom agent after his girlfriend left him with a debt. A fierce bar hostess just resigned at a sex club and is on the run for her violent husband. Later on her boss – played by superstar Jeon Do-yeon as ruthless femme fatale –  joins the game who has important connections with the custom agent. A rat race continues between ordinary people who get involved in the criminal world.
With its non-chronological order, emotional explosiveness and leaps in times this neo noir is a crazy joyride. Although the script is adapted from a Japanese novel, Korean Crime flows through the veins of the film.  

When Jeon Doyeon (Secret Sunshine) got on board other major actors also joined resulting in a top cast: quite a performance for a first feature film. Beasts Clawing at Straws was one of the tiger nominations of IFFR2020 and we’re happy it’s back in Rotterdam. 

English subtitles

Scarlet Diva

“In 1997, I was raped by Harvey Weinstein here at Cannes. I was 21 years old. This festival was his hunting ground” 

 

It was May 2018 and Asia Argento dropped a bomb of a speech in Cannes that stunned the crowd and had them burst into loud applause. She predicted Weinstien would never be welcome at Cannes anymore and became one of the standard bearers of the #metoo movement.
She later explained how the attempted rape scene in her film Scarlet Diva was based on her incident with Weinstien. Time to revisit the film who thought. 

 

In Scarlet Diva we follow the young, wild actress Anna Battista – played by Argento herself – looking for a more fulfilling role to play than other people’s characters. She wants to become a director! Lived by her fame, lonely and always high she travels from America to Europe and back to The States again. Fucking, drinking, smoking and shocking. One thing is sure: this grungy colourful trip of a film is fearless and tt has guts and authenticity you rarely see.

The Surrogate

Jess is thrilled to give her best friend John and his husband Aaron a baby.

While the other mums in maternity gym give her a questioning look – are you really going to give your baby away? – she carries her belly like it’s the most normal thing to do: of course she is giving her best gay friends a baby if they want one! Everything is idyllic and going smoothly until the prenatal test results come back. The fetus tests positive for down syndrome posing the friends for a moral dilemma and raising tough questions.

Many sensitive, controversial subjects in this modern family moral drama by Jerermy Hersh. The natural acting and documentary like vibe give it an airy feel without talking light about anything. And everyone should wish a best friend like Jess. She is gold! 

The Trouble With Being Born

A single handsome middle-aged father and his cute teenage daughter Elli spend their summer holiday in a house in the woods. They share lovable memories, chitchat and fool around at the pool. But their day-to-day behaviour soon raises questions on what is appropriate for a paternal relationship…

 

Luckily, Elli isn’t his real progeny, she is an android and her memories are programmed. Programmed to the desires of the father. One night Elli disappears into the woods drawn by otherworldly voices. A passenger picks her up and the little robot is programmed again to fulfil the human soul in another household.

With this daring sci-fi gem Wollner explores boundaries of AI technology and its ethical acceptance. What kind of behaviour belongs to humans and what can be replaced by machines. What can we allow and where to draw the line? Shot in an elusive surrounding The Trouble with Being Born will trick your perception and brains.
When Wollners second feature premiered at Berlinale 2020 and immediately gained status as one of the most provocative, disturbing films of 2020. At the festival The Trouble With Being Born won the Berlinale FIPRESCI Award. It is said that Wollners style joins the visions of Austrian masters like Ulrich Seidl and Michael Haneke.

English subtitles

Pari

An Iranian couple arrives in Athens, Greece. They come to visit their studying son but he fails to pick them up from the airport as promised. A bit lost in translation and overwhelmed by the unknown city they take a taxi to the address they have for him, but he is not to be found there either…

 

Confused they set out in search of him. The city is grim, covered with smoke and graffiti and heavy protests are ongoing. Since her much older strictly religious husband doesn’t speak a word of English the traditional Muslim wife, Pari, has to do the talking. Where her husband wants to turn to the authorities, Pari can’t ignore her mother’s heart that doesn’t want to wait but move, search and find. Forging alliances with strangers, visiting shady parts of the city she turns into a true detective and learns as much about herself as about the fate of her son. 

Iranian director Siamak Etemadi studied in Athens. During those years he picked up his parents from the airport regularly. One day he thought: what if I wouldn’t show up?
His first feature length film is an intense portrait of a city and its people of different generations and cultures. A tale of emancipation and political awakening. 

English subtitles