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Next was L’ange by Patrick Bokanowski, a rediscovered gem from Rotterdam’s regained programme. It’s not exactly a date movie, believe me. It has no story, but solely consists of images, edited in a bizarre and fascinating way. A pure trip movie. It surely put me in a trance for 70 minutes. The beautiful painting-like images would stay in my head for days after the film.
Time for some Asian cinema. Rotterdam always has plenty of that. Takeshi Kitano is one of the Asian directors that contributes a feature to the programme annually. His Zatôichi even opened the festival in 2004. His latest work is Achilles and the Tortois, the last instalment in a loose trilogy about the figure of the artist. The previous entries were Takeshi’s and Glory to the Filmmaker.
Takeshi is – besides a filmmaker – a painter. This film tells about that part of his life. A young boy who only wants to paint grows up to be…Takeshi. An artists who never sold a painting and is always ridiculed. He has some brilliant ideas for paintings though. Overlong, but occasionally very funny film. It is also warmer than most of Takeshi’s works. It might even be his most moving film so far, now that I think about it.  
Besides the title of Michael Imperioli’s film, ‘The Hungry Ghosts’ is also a film programme, consisting of Asian ghost movies. Thai horror The Body is one of them. A scary movie it is! A young student starts having nightmarish visions that are só scary that it is almost unbearable. Feature debut of Thai director Paween Purijitpanya. He still has to learn to cut more rigorously, but his talent is evident and fantastic film lovers will undoubtedly hear more from him in coming years.
Mock Up on Mu is the latest creation of found footage director Craig Baldwin. It’s another weird collage of campy sci-fi flicks narrated together. Thematically it revolves around human evolution, space colonisation and military power. Pretty funny. Unfortunately it goes on and on, becoming too much nonsense to handle in one go.
Rotterdam traditionally puts two or three filmmakers in the spotlight at each festival. Not the usual suspects, but unknown talents. This year the honour befalls on Polish Jerzy Skolimowski, Italian Paolo Benvenuti and Swiss experimental filmmaker Peter Liechti, of whom I went to see his latest work, The Sound of Insects – Record of a Mummy.
Based on a true Japanese story, it tells the intriguing – if somewhat morbid – tale of a man who chooses to die of starvation. He retreats to the abandoned woods and waits for nearly 60 (!) days before his soul finally leaves his body. In voice-over, the man records his dying observations. Liechti chooses not to film the man himself, but merely the images the man sees and the sounds (of insects) that he hears. There isn’t much more to it. A curious experience.
British director Pat Holden presented his movie Awaydays, for which screenwriter Kevin Sampson adapted his own cult novel. Against the backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain, it tells the story of the rocky friendship between the two young thugs Carty and Elvis, who live between the hooligan gangs and primitive violence. With a fantastic post-punk soundtrack.
Followed up by stylish Mexican thriller Los Bastardos. Two outlaws keep a drug addicted mother hostage in her own house. The build-up is slow, but the story eventually heads towards an acts of stomach turning violence. The movie is directed by Amat Escalante, who made an impression at the festival a few years back with Sangre. In the Q&A after the film, Escalante says to have been inspired by the films of James Benning and For a Few Dollars More by Sergio Leone. Not by the more obvious Funny Games that is somewhat similar.
The final film for me is the Canadian comedy The Baby Formula, something like The L-Word with a sci-fi twist. Definitely one for the ladies. Two lesbians impregnate each other through medical innovation. Their very different families respond to the situation in their own way. A feel-good comedy that will undoubtedly score high with the audience.