Magazine article Variety

No Political Tone Left Unturned

Magazine article Variety

No Political Tone Left Unturned

Article excerpt

Fest's trimmer slate puts emphasis on global uprisings

The Rotterdam Film Festival is slimming down this year, reducing the number of pics on offer and bringing greater focus to its previously sprawling schedule.

"We came to the conclusion that we were competing with ourselves," says Rutger Wolfson, the fest's director. "There were too many films, too many programs. We wanted something smaller so that we could give the new films and the special programs more of the attention they deserve."

The festival's Bright Future section, which covers first and second films, will shrink by roughly 20% so that there are significantly fewer f eature adn shorts running alongside the Tiger competitions.

"Professionals who come to Rotterdam will get a sharper selection of new films," Wolfson says.

The will also be fewer strands in the Signals section, which gathers together retrospectives and themed programs. This continues a streamlining that Wolfson began when he took over as director in 2008 and restructured the festival.

The resulting section has a strong political tone, thanks to programs on China and the Arab Spring.

The Hidden Histories strand consists of recent films by Chinese documentary makers and work by the artist Ai Weiwei. These share a focus on hidden aspects of Chinese society, such as poverty, corruption and misrule, along with a clandestine domestic existence.

Power Cut Middle East combines recent films and visual art from the region, with a focus on Syria and Egypt. This includes playing host to the Damascus Visual Arts Festival, effectively in exile because of the political unrest in Syria.

"These are both programs that reflect our interest in how we can see the world through film and how it makes developments visible," says Wolfson. …

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