Turn off your phone: IFFR ’19 is here!

You can’t have diversity without unity.

SOPHIE, Faceshopping (featured in Down The Rabbit Hole)

The annual International Film Festival Rotterdam commences tomorrow: a 12-day celebration of filmic achievements from all over the world. Since its foundation in 1972, with a modest 17 attendees for its celluloid-era debut, today the festival has an audience in the 10,000s under the directorship of film producer Bero Beyer, with more than 500 feature, mid-length and short films out of over 50 countries.

IFFR explores, encourages and enriches the past, present and future of cinema. Not only there will be plush-velvet seats, copious amounts of popcorn and good lighting; there will be films, and—quality—films you will get. To make things simpler for visitors, the festival has divided its films into four categories: ‘Perspectives’ explores the themes of the festival, ‘Voices’ celebrates the art of storytelling, ‘Deep Voices’ looks into retrospectives, film art and the latter of film-making.  And finally we have ‘Bright Future’, a line-up of all the main competition contenders for the Tiger Award amongst many, forecasting the future of film and the next generation of cinematic visionaries.

Whilst the main entertainment will gleam and glisten from the projector, the 48th IFFR boasts a programme packed with various installations, talks, workshops and presentations. Across eighteen different locations dotted around the city, it’s guaranteed you’ll be lured into the film festival spirit. So, give Netflix-and-chill a break and immerse yourself in the fine and fluid experience of the silver screen.


Nicknamed the ‘film alchemist’, IFFR has shipped over LA-based and London-born Charlotte Pryce to preview her “film miniatures”—a collection of mesmeric, hypnotic, and kinda microscopic clips in 16mm format. The artist’s scheduled to perform two magic lantern performances, once a revolutionary cinematic device now a defunct relic. Pryce, with magic lantern/projector in-hand, will transform WORM’s UBIK space into a “mysterious portal to unknown cinematic territories”.


In collaboration with Kunsthal Rotterdam and Kodak, as part of the IFFR’s ‘Deep Focus’ programme, there will be an exhibition entitled Blackout gyrating around the clicked-out fate of the 35mm carousel slide projector (discontinued by Kodak in 2004). While for some this may still be reason to lament, Blackout will celebrate its identity in the digital landscape, presenting works from 2004 and beyond. Consider it 21st-century media excavation.

#MEMEPROPAGANDA Goes to Amsterdam, Down The Rabbit Hole


This year the IFFR has chosen to dissect and devour the omnipresent Internet meme, its visual language, universal nature and representation in society. The meme transcends not only social media but also a culture in its own right. There will be features and shorts, from Dan Schoenbrun’s film about Slender Man to David OReilly’s Octocat Story and Glamcult cover girl SOPHIE’s Faceshopping music video. You may not drink tea with the Mad Hatter, but you may undoubtedly drink tea at the Meme Café.


Soul in the Eye will exhibit and mark the ever-growing infiltration of black Brazilian cinema over the years. Blossoming from the life of actor, filmmaker and activist Zózimo Bulbul (1937-2013), who documented the history, culture and political situation of black Brazilians during the 20th century. Don’t miss the screening of Alma No Olho (Soul in the Eye, 1973) as well as new films and documentaries paying tribe to Bulbul’s trailblazing legacy.

Cartuchos de Super Nintendo em Aneis de Saturno, Soul of the Eye

International Film Festival Rotterdam

23 January until 2 February, 2019



Words by Lawrence Harrison

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