After the various industry complaints about Sundance “at the breaking point” of overcrowding and rampant commercialization this year, a trip to Rotterdam is like visiting an alternate film festival world. Relentlessly polite and civilized, the International Film Festival Rotterdam with its accompanying financing conference, the Cinemart (which I had a project in this year), provides a low-key tonic to the frenzy of Sundance and the upcoming bustle of Berlin.
This year, a lot of Rotterdam industry folks had a Sundance hangover as Sundance’s international program and a desire to closely monitor U.S. premieres lead to a larger than usual delegation of foreign distribs and sales agents making the trek to Park City. Quite a few Americans made the trip to Rotterdam this year as well, including producers Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen, who accompanied director Kelly Reichardt and their Sundance premiere Old Joy (pictured); director Kevin Everson, whose Cinnamon played in both fests; and a number of execs and programmers, including Strand’s Marcus Hu, critic/programmer Ed Halter, and reps from specialty distribs like Film Philos and Kino.
I didn’t see many films — I had 36 meetings in the Cinemart — but I did check out Reichardt’s Old Joy, a thoughtful and measured meditation on male friendship depicting that awkward transition between living a bohemian lifestyle and “adulthood.” Playing in the main competition, the film won a prestigious Tiger Award along with two other titles: Han Jie’s Walking on the Wild Side and Manuel Nieto Zas’s The Dog Pound. All three films win 10,000 Euros and a guaranteed broadcast on Dutch network VPRO.