International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) presents two exciting retrospectivesas part of its Deep Focus section. José Celestino Campusano, a unique filmmaker still largely unknown outside his home country, is the ultimate insider when it comes to portraying the conflicts and contradictions of the working class in Argentina today. Artur Żmijewski is the thought-provoking Polish artist whose film and video work forces us to confront unsettling contemporary issues.
Campusano’s work features bikers, hookers, criminals, corrupt officers, unfaithful lovers and hardware store employees – every one of them trying to survive in a seemingly lawless urban jungle. With the eye of an anthropologist and the patience of someone deeply rooted in the world he represents, Campusano stresses the universal qualities of the peculiar culture of forgotten parts of Argentina. The retrospective at IFFR 2018 comprises the international premiere of Campusano’s award-winning new feature El Azote and the world premiere of Brooklyn Experience, a 60-minute 360° VR installation shot in the US, showing Campusano expanding his work into new directions.
With his quiet observations, Żmijewski shines his light on the people and themes society would rather keep in the shadows. In doing so, he is unafraid to cross the boundaries of what is ‘politically correct’. Many of his films can be characterised as registrations of orchestrated social situations, often in the form of a workshop. For Blindly (2010), Żmijewski invited blind people to paint; in Out for a Walk (2001) he filmed physical therapists helping paralysed patients learn to walk again, and in The Making Of (2013) he organised a fashion and beauty session for female prison inmates. By giving ‘the Other’ a face, Żmijewski strives to present a less polarised view of reality. Żmijewski is also featured in the Ammodo Tiger Short Competition with the world premiere of a black-and-white short film about refugees entitled Glimpse.