Rotterdam: what a magnificent city. Minus temperatures in the Celsius scale and winds of many Beaufort : what a nuisance. But, then, International Film Festival Rotterdam, and in particular, on its 4oth anniversary: what a fulfilling experience, to say the least.
Our favorite Tiger became forty or Extra Large --the creative minds of the Festival had a good brainstorming day, when they decided to use the number 40 written in Roman numerals, which is XL, and even twist around the idea of a Festival growing older and stronger spicing it up with a playful character and a young soul: posters and logos everywhere were featuring the XL number written with colorful markers children love to use for their naive sketches. Let alone the official delegate bag, commissioned to Antoine Peters and Eastpak, which also features the idea of using colorful markers to intervene in the process of the bag coloring, thus customizing it according to one's taste, as he would customize the festival experience itself, choosing films, venues, events from an endless variety the organisers provide.
Forty years mean a lot of experience, a lot of associates and in 2011 it also means forty Extra Locations, all of them celebrating the most peculiar expressions and combinations of film and other means of art, like Your Space gallery, which turned into a blissful children's creche or the WORM Abnorminal Fitness Club, that offers an exhausting (sic) package of contemporary art, film, music and some work-out nicely wrapped up for urban hipsters.
Literally hundreds of people co-operate all-day long (I mention with love Stefanie and Marije from Q & A, the supervisors in Cinerama and Lantaren Venster, and others) to get the tiger moving perpetually across the city. It moves with fast leaps, sometimes it takes the Tram or the Metro, it even rides a bike, wearing a heavy coat and a hoodie. Late at night the Tiger loves to listen to D.J. gigs by poet-musician-directors like F.G. Ossang, but throughout the day he watches films, sure he does, especially Greek films Attenberg and Wasted Youth, as well as some Argentinian films like En El Futuro, to name a few.
Still, IFFR is all about the experience, it's not about locking yourself up in screenings non-stop. It took me years to learn that quantity and quality do not usually go together -- I had to try to break the record of films per day in other festivals myself, till I saw that there was no point in breaking the record at all.
The Tiger Awards are already granted, I am not in Rotterdam any more, and trying stuff with wild people and hitting the dancefloor with lovely Roz, Janna, and some weird guys with intricate fashion sense seems like it happened in a dreamland, but I still hear the roaring of the Tiger, or is it just the wind roaring over the rooftops?