International Film Festival Rotterdam 2019

IFFR 2019

Celebrating its 48th edition International Film Festival di Rotterdam (IFFR) stands out for being a unique showcase for upcoming filmmakers and new talents of the worldwide film production. From 23 January to 3 February one of the largest audience film festivals in the world dedicated to independent cinema will screen over 500 hundreds films and documentaries from over 50 countries. 4 sections, retrospectives, themed focus, a high-quality selection of carefully selected fiction and documentary feature films, 47 new features, including 19 world premieres.



THE DAY I LOST MY SHADOW (YOM ADAATOU ZOULI) by Soudade Kaadan – In war-torn Syria, the story of Sana, a young mother struggling to raise her son. In search of livelihoods, one day she shares a taxi ride with Jalal and Reem. All three are abandoned in a village by the driver, alleged opponent of the regime. Sana’s panic-stricken journey is told with striking hyper-realism and an excursion into magic realism.

THE LOAD by Ognjen Glavonic – The story of Vlada who works as a truck driver during the NATO bombing of Serbia in 1999. As it turns out later on, his mysterious cargo consists of the bodies of massacred Kosovo Albanians who are to be taken from Kosovo to Belgrade so that the war crimes of the Serbian  army are covered up. Vlada does not know what he is transporting, yet the need for money leads him to betray his morals. He represents a generation that has hidden itself , bearing shared responsibility for the wars in former Yugoslavia.

CHÉCHE LAVI by Sam Ellison – In Haitian Creole Chèche lavi  means “looking for life”. Everything sold, everything left behind. A long journey via Brazil and Peru, in order finally to ride illegally into Mexico and then in the USA. But then there’s the wall and it is a disrupting surprise to Haitian refugees Robens and James. The portrait of two young men on the verge of a future to dream of is honest and subtle. Disappointment and resignation, a genuine and tender friendship under the shadow of the wall. 

MANTA RAY by Phuttiphong Aroonpheng – In a village of Thailand by the sea where thousands of Rohingya refugees have drowned, a local fisherman finds a man lying unconscious in the forest. He rescues him and names him Thongchai. When the fisherman goes on a fishing trip, Thongchai slowly takes over his life, his house, his ex-wife. A poetic homage film to the Rohingya with magical elements.

THE MERCY OF THE JUNGLE by Joel Karakezi – The Congolese Civil War is the second largest military conflict in the last hundred years and yet widely unknown. Set in Kivu, on the border between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, at the outset of the Second Congo War, a pair of Rwandan soldiers, Sergeant Xavier, a veteran of Rwanda’s ethnic conflicts, and Private Faustin, a fresh recruit eager to avenge the killing of his father and brothers. One night, left behind by their battalion, Xavier and Faustin, as the enemy battalions push ahead, embark on a journey through a hostile jungle and mercenary mining operations.


DEEP FOCUS, retrospectives, restored classics and compilations to celebrate the world of cinema.

ABOUT HIM OR HOW HE DID NOT FEAR THE BEAR by Nariné Mkrtchyan and Arsen Azatyan – A Russian soldier kills seven members of a family in the Armenian city of Gyumri. The filmmakers fictionalize a true event into the narrative of a children’s show centered on the character of Ivan, the fool from Russian folklore. The film focuses on the aftermath of the drama, showing the contradictory reactions evoked by events. The soldier is arrested, but war veterans Vahan and Sargis demand retribution, while the priest Avetis, however, calls on the people to keep calm.


VOICES, captivating stories and important themes by filmmakers with a confident voice.

CAPHARNAÜM by Nadine Labaki – Before a court case the young Zain complains his parents to have brought him into the world. Zain is twelve years old, he has a habitable home, sufficient food, protection, love. He runs away from home being sheltered by an illegal Ethiopian cleaner who shares the common fate of the large group of undocumented people trying to survive in and around Beirut.

A LAND IMAGINED by Yeo Siew Hua – A neo-realistic drama in a film-noir style set in industrial Singapore the story of the police investigator Lok who must find Wang, a migrant worker, alone, alienated, anxious about repatriation, misteriously missing. Before disappearing Wang had started frequenting a night cybercafé where he had made a virtual friendship with a sketchy gamer.

BIRDS OF PASSAGE by Cristina Gallego, Ciro Guerra – The north of Colombia in the late 1960s. A calm drama about the centuries-old family traditions of the Waayu people, the lost of innocence when drugs traffic break into their life along with money and violence, greed, revenge and blood. All this is  the start of the Escobar era.

WIDOW OF SILENCE by Praveen Morchhale – Aasia works as a nurse in a hospital in Kashmir to maintain herself, her 11-year-old daughter and her sick mother-in-law. She is a ‘half widow’: her husband, like many men in this Indian region, was arrested and never returned. Aasia spends a lot of time trying to obtain a death certificate for her husband. A painful portrait of the political and social situation in Kashmir with sexual violence, humiliation and corruption as everyday life.

HOUSE OF MY FATHERS by Suba Sivakumaran – Barbed wire separate two Sri Lankan villages that have been at war with one another forever. When both communities become completely sterile and there is fear for the continuity of their bloodlines, the village elders decide to make a sacrifice: to send Asoka, a veteran to Ahalya, a woman from the other village who has not spoken since losing her husband and son in the war. Asoka and Ahalya’s villages symbolise the Singhalese and Tamil ethnic groups, who have been fighting one another in Sri Lanka for 20 years. Their collective fears and traumas are submerged in magic-realist symbolism,


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