Rotterdam announces 2010 Competition lineup

Fifteen films have been selected for IFFR's VPRO Tiger Awards Competition 2010. The lineup, like always comprising first or second feature films concurring for three equal top prizes of each 15,000 euro, includes five world premieres. For the first time the Rotterdam festival welcomes films for its main competition from Costa Rica and Georgia. Four competing films have been supported by Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund.
Berlin-based sales agent Films Boutique has picked up world sales for competition entry Agua fría de mar (Cold water of the Sea).

The Jury of the fifteenth VPRO Tiger Awards Competition comprises French actress and singer Jeanne Balibar, Polish-Dutch film-maker Úrszula Antoniak, former director of the Singapore Film Festival Philip Cheah, Mexican film-maker Amat Escalante and Ugandan actor and activist Okello Kelo Sam. The winners will be announced during the Tiger Awards Ceremony on Friday, February 5.

From the European continent, the Tiger Awards Competition includes the very first Georgian contender, Levan Koguashvili’s moving account of the struggle of an older junkie in Street Days. Russian filmmakers Yelena & Nikolay Renard present their first feature Mama, a low budget film about a mother and her obese adult son. From Estonia the very talented Veiko Õunpuu ((Autumn Ball) will present his exciting second film, The Temptation of St. Tony. Denmark is represented by hard-hitting prison drama R by Michael Noer & Tobias Lindholm.
Dutch filmmaker Martijn Maria Smits has been invited with his superbly acted début, C’est déja l'été, set in the Wallonian city of Seraing where the Dardenne Brothers have made so many of their films. From France, Sophie Letourneur brings her fresh, revealing funny début about contemporary student life, La vie au Ranch.

Much in line with the established Asian flavor of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, this year’s Competition lineup includes two strong contenders from Japan: Autumn Adagio by Inoue Tsuki and Miyoko, Tsubota Yoshifumi’s sensual, surreal and moving biopic.
Also in competition, Chinese minimalist Yang Heng’s tale of a rural love triangle Sun Spots, Thai filmmaker Anocha Suwichakornpong’s Mundane History and Malaysian feature début My Daughter by Charlotte Lay Kuen Lim.

Chicago-based filmmaker Ben Russell presents his first feature length film Let Each One Go Where He May, shot on location in Suriname. Quebec has a film in Competition for the second consecutive year: Sophie Deraspe’s Les signes vitaux (Vital Signs).

Finally, there are two films from Latin American films in Competition: Agua fría de mar (Cold Water of the Sea), the début by Costa Rican filmmaker Paz Fábrega set on the Pacific beach; and from Mexico, Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio first solo effort Alamar (To the Sea) by, produced by Mantarraya Producciones.

The 15 films in IFFR 2010’s VPRO Tiger Awards Competition (in alphabetical order by international film title) 

Fuwaku no adagio (Autumn Adagio) by Inoue Tsuki (Japan, 2009), international premiere
Inoue Tsuki’s début feature film, after her prize winning short fiction The Woman Who Is Beating The Earth, is called Autumn Adagio. Japanese musician and actress Rei Shibakusa plays a middle-aged nun in a drama that deals with salvation, sexuality and identity in the different stages of a woman’s life.

C’est déja l'été by Martijn Maria Smits (The Netherlands/Belgium, 2010), world premiere
Talentend young filmmaker Martijn Smits literally makes his way into Dardenne Brothers territory with his début feature C’est déja l'été, a realistic and engaging portrayal of a dysfunctional, lower class family living in Seraing, Belgium. 

Agua fría de mar (Cold water of the Sea). by Paz Fábrega (Costa Rica/France/Spain/Netherlands/Mexico, 2010), world premiere, Hubert Bals Fund supported film
Paz Fábrega’s first feature film Agua fría de mar (Cold Water of the Sea) is set on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica during the Christmas holiday season. It is the sensitive and atmospheric story of a young couple and a seven-year old girl with very different social backgrounds.

Let Each One Go Where He May by Ben Russell (USA/Suriname, 2009), European premiere
Let Each One Go Where He May is the feature début of Chicago-based filmmaker Ben Russell. The film, portraying contemporary Saramaccan life, traces the journey of two brothers who venture from the outskirts of Paramaribo, Suriname, on land and through rapids, past a Maroon village on the Upper Suriname River. Their journey reflects the voyage undertaken by their ancestors, who escaped from slavery at the hands of the Dutch 300 years earlier. 

Mama by Yelena Renard & Nikolay Renard (Russia, 2010), world premiere
Yelena and Nikolay Renard, new and promising voices in Russian cinema, made fiction out of the real life story of a complex relationship between an overbearing mother and her obese, forty-year-old son who still lives at home. The filmmakers use a very realistic style in which shots are sometimes turned into tableaux vivants.

Miyoko asagaya kibun (Miyoko) by Tsubota Yoshifumi (Japan, 2009), international premiere.
Tsubota Yoshifumi’s Miyoko is a lavishly styled biopic about a Japanese manga-artist, his regularly nude posing muse Miyoko and the bohemian Tokyo neighborhood where they live in the seventies. The young artist obsessively sticks to his girlfriend and the bottle.

Jao nok krajok (Mundane History) by Anocha Suwichakornpong (Thailand, 2009), European premiere, Hubert Bals Fund supported film
Scriptwriter and director Anocha Suwichakornpong’s short film Graceland (2006) became the first Thai short film to be included in the Official Selection at Cannes Film Festival. Her feature film début Mundane History is a family drama about a paralyzed son, an elusive father and the male nurse hired to take care of the wheelchair-bound patient. Suwichakornpong’s second feature project By the Time It Gets Dark is selected for CineMart 2010.

Li fa dian de nu er (My Daughter) by Charlotte Lay Kuen Lim (Malaysia, 2009), European premiere, Hubert Bals Fund supported film
Charlotte Lay Kuen Lim worked for numerous TV commercials after completing her studies in broadcasting and was an assistant director for various films. She directed several short films, such as Escape (2008), screened at IFFR 2009. Her feature film début My Daughter is an intimate study of the mutual dependence between a slovenly hairdresser and her insecure teenage daughter.

R by Michael Noer & Tobias Lindholm (Denmark, 2010), world premiere
R. is Lindholm & Noer’s first feature film about young Rune who tries to survive in a Danish prison. A gripping, hard hitting film that portrays the prison world with its strict hierarchy, codes of honor and mysterious contracts.

Les signes vitaux (Vital Signs) by Sophie Deraspe (Canada, 2009), international premiere
A young Canadian woman wants to know what people really need in the last moments of their lives. In a restrained way, without any false sentimentality, Sophie Deraspe’s film evokes grand questions about the things that are important in life and the strange intimacy between caregivers and the dying.

Quchis dgeebi (Street Days) by Levan Koguashvili (Georgia, 2010), world premiere
Sober Georgian drama about Checkie, a jobless and penniless junkie, is a reflection of a generation who were around the age of twenty when the Soviet Union fell, brought up in the soviet style, and incapable of adapting to all the socio-political and economical changes. They are now in their late thirties and early forties and referred to as the lost generation. 

Guang ban (Sun Spots) by Yang Heng (Hong Kong/China, 2009), European premiere, Hubert Bals Fund supported film
Three years after his award winning début feature Betelnut, Yang Heng presents Sun Spots, minimalistic Chinese cinema that combines beautiful HD imagery with the story of a tragic relationship between a young gangster and a girl disappointed in love.

Püha Tõnu kiusamine (The Temptation of St. Tony) by Veiko Õunpuu (Estonia/Sweden/Finland, 2009), European premiere
After winning the Horizon Award 2007 at the Venice Film Festival for his début feature Autumn Ball, Estonian filmmaker Veiko Õunpuu now returns with his second feature The Temptation of St. Tony, a parable on the new, wolf like capitalism in Eastern Europe with its compassionless capitalist rules and rulers. Shot in beautiful black and white, Õunpuu’s vision is provocative and dark, but also very diverting with his use of black comedy.

Alamar (To the Sea) by Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio (Mexico, 2009), European premiere
Alamar delicately portrays the relationship between a father and son spending a summer on Chinchorro reef on the Mexican-Caribbean coast, where the father is a fisherman. The second feature film by Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio was produced by Jaime Romandia for Mantarraya Producciones that previously produced films by Carlos Reygadas and Amat Escalante.

La vie au Ranch by Sophie Letourneur (France, 2009), international premiere
In her début feature La vie au ranch, Sophie Letourneur portrays with great insight the seemingly quite happy daily life of a small group of twenty-year-old female students living together in what they call their ‘Ranch’. Their lives are about to be confronted with the sharper edges of reality and relationships.