IFFR Festival Director Vanja Kaludjercic congratulates the Pebbles film team with their IFFR 2021 Tiger Award
Special Jury Awards go to I Comete – A Corsican Summer by Pascal Tagnati and Looking for Venera by Norika Sefa
International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has announced the competition award winners for its expanded 50th anniversary edition. Southern India-set Pebbles by Vinothraj P.S won the Tiger Award, while I Comete – A Corsican Summer by French filmmaker Pascal Tagnati and Looking for Venera by Norika Sefa from Kosovo both won Special Jury Awards. The VPRO Big Screen Award went to El perro que no calla by Ana Katz from Argentina and Quo Vadis, Aida? by Bosnian filmmaker Jasmila Žbanić won the BankGiro Loterij Audience Award.
Festival director Vanja Kaludjercic: “In these most challenging of times, we are incredibly proud to have brought an outstanding selection of titles in our reimagined festival format. The expanded Tiger Competition included 16 films that reflect the plurality of voices and visions of talent that will continue to deliver great cinema for years to come. What we learned from this experience is that as resilient as the industry is, so are our audiences who fully embraced and celebrated the first chapter of this year’s festival.”
The Ammodo Tiger Short Awards were given to Sunsets, everyday by Pakistani filmmaker Basir Mahmood, Terranova by Cubans Alejandro Pérez Serrano and Alejandro Alonso Estrella and Maat Means Land by California-based Native American artist and filmmaker Fox Maxy. IFFR additionally nominated Flowers blooming in our throats by Belgian filmmaker Eva Giolo to the short film category for the European Film Awards (EFA).
The FIPRESCI Prize was given to The Edge of Daybreak by Thai filmmaker Taiki Sakpisit. Norwegian director Ane Hjort Guttu won the KNF prize for her short film Manifesto. La nuit des rois by Philippe Lacôte from Côte d’Ivoire won the Youth Jury Award.
Tiger Competition 2021 winners Pebbles, I Comete – A Corsican Summer and Looking for Venera will be made available to watch on IFFR.com for an extended period: from Sunday 6 February 18:00 (CET) to Tuesday 9 February 21:00 (CET), with streaming exclusively accessible in the Netherlands. The three Ammodo Tiger Short winners – Maat Means Land, Sunsets, everyday and Terranova – will also be made available in the form of a single compilation during the same time frame, as well as the Big Screen Competition 2021 winner El perro que no calla and BankGiro Loterij Audience Award Quo Vadis, Aida?.
The Awards Ceremony marks the closing of the February festival days. With events including Vive le cinéma! in collaboration with Eye Filmmuseum, IFFR Unleashed: 50/50, RTM, Curaçao IFFR and Animatie Variatie with Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, IFFR 2021 will continue over the coming months and will close with four festival days from 2 to 6 June 2021.
The Tiger Award celebrates the innovative and adventurous spirit of up-and-coming filmmakers from all over the world. IFFR’s most prestigious award includes a prize of €40,000 to be divided between filmmaker and producer, as well as two Special Jury Awards each worth €10,000.
Jury report: “In the midst of many admirable and ambitious works, the jury was blown away by a seemingly simple and humble film we fell in love with instantly. Creating a maximum impact with a minimum in means, the filmmaker reaches his goal with the same conviction and determination as his main characters. The result is a lesson in pure cinema, captivating us with its beauty and humour, in spite of its grim subject.”
Jury report: “In this pleasant Mediterranean reverie about his home village, the director shows us in an observational approach the daily life which centres on friends, football, infidelity, fertility and family traditions. In the beginning the spectator is just a witness of these slices of life in the Corsican village but gradually you start to feel part of it and grow familiar with the villagers and their dreams, fears and their collective joie de vivre. I Comete – A Corsican Summer is a true love letter of humanity brought to us through a refreshing look on contemporary cinema.”
Jury report: “With purposeful restraint and unassuming sincerity, camera work and sound come together to capture an intimate slice of life, where what has been hurriedly swept under the carpet is all but forgotten. In Looking for Venera the humdrum minutiae of the everyday are delicately imbued with the precarious, yet resilient quest to find one’s young self.”
The winner of the VPRO Big Screen Award is chosen by a jury of five dedicated audience members. The film wins a guaranteed theatrical release in Dutch theatres and will be broadcast on Dutch TV by VPRO and NPO. In addition, a €30,000 prize is awarded, equally shared between the filmmaker and the distributor who releases the film.
Jury report: “The movie we chose as the winner left a big impression on us all. The film sets a tone from the start with a brilliant opening scene and as the story unfolds, we are drawn into the daily life of a young man who tries to find his place in a world which, at a certain point, becomes uncannily familiar. However, it is a hopeful and optimistic story without toning down the challenges for especially younger people. The director could have addressed these issues in a more or less conventional social-realistic movie, but instead she made some radical choices regarding narrative, structure and cinematography. We strongly believe that this film earns a release in Dutch movie theatres and we hope that this award will contribute to that.”
The Robby Müller Award honours an ‘image maker’ (director of photography, filmmaker or visual artist) who, in the spirit of the late Dutch cinematographer Robby Müller, has created an authentic, credible and emotionally striking visual language throughout their oeuvre. The Award is a collaboration between IFFR, the Netherlands Society of Cinematographers (NSC) and Andrea Müller-Schirmer, Robby Müller’s wife.
Acclaimed American filmmaker Kelly Reichardt received the second annual Robby Müller Award at IFFR 2021.
Jury report: “We see in Kelly Reichardt, not just a liberating independence and clarity of aesthetic vision, but also someone who, in a self-evident way, carries on Robby Müller’s legacy. They share a talent for depicting the American landscape in all its variety as much more than a supporting character, and for portraying humans in the most subtle and sensitive way. Both are able to visualise what can’t be expressed in words by creating pristine, unforced images in which the narrative can unfold and evolve, and the viewer's gaze can wander.”
In the Ammodo Tiger Short Competition, 22 films between 1 and 63 minutes long compete for one of three equal prizes worth €5,000.
Winning films: Sunsets, everyday by Basir Mahmood, Terranova by Alejandro Pérez Serrano & Alejandro Alonso Estrella and Maat Means Land by Fox Maxy.
“This is a daring film that uses cinematic tools, visual and symbolic cues to invite the viewer into a sensitive subject-matter. The jury was impressed with the filmmaker’s capacity to have realised such complex work remotely. In the work, the artist challenges the authority of the filmmaker and opens up the agency of the spectator. It’s a layered work that engages the viewer into an intimate process, one that has to be decoded and encrypted and one that forces us to bear witness and actively consider the details presented in order to gain an understanding of the underlying narrative. The filmmaker adopts a sensitive approach to a delicate subject-matter by taking the viewer into an emotional journey that transposes male-dominated environments with domesticity, and that offers a closer look to eventually zoom out to the bigger picture.”
“This film welcomes you to an imaginative city. Each scene treats you to a phantasmagoric vision and soundscape of a transmuting urban landscape. Both the film and the mapping of the city develop freely in an organic process of meandering. It escapes and reconstructs spaces, offers a new take on experimental documentary and reimagines magical realism within film. The directors know their film history well: the work is a new take on the genre of the city symphony. Here there is no place for rationality: no right or wrong path but forking a path. It visualises a city in flux, where every road magically brings you to a surprising and inspiring place.”
“With razor-sharp editing, the filmmaker keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat. If this savvy collage belongs to a digital native from our post-media era, it is also embedded within another understanding of the “native”: that of First Nations and their never-ending struggle for de-alienation from the cultural and urban colonial fabric. It is an insight into grassroots organisations’ process of negotiating the social fabric of western societies and the evolution of such coexistence. Documenting his own return to lands belonging to his ancestors in California the director visits and pays tribute to other First Nations communities. The film becomes an empowering tool to join forces, speak up and reach unexpected audiences worldwide.”
In addition, IFFR also nominates Flowers blooming in our throats by Eva Giolo to the short film category for the European Film Awards (EFA), which will be presented at the EFA ceremony in December 2021.
Following online screenings on IFFR.com, audience members who purchased a ticket are invited to rate the film through online voting. The BankGiro Loterij Audience Award, worth €5,000, is granted to the film which received the highest average rating in the audience poll during the festival.
A jury of international film journalists from the Fédération Internationale de la Presse Cinématographique award the FIPRESCI Award to their standout Tiger Competition title. Jury: Veronika Zakonjsek, Jihane Bougrine, Salvatore Marfella, Ronald Rovers, Paula Ruiz
Jury members: Alonso Aguilar, Madeleine Collier, Jason Tan Liwag, Łukasz Mańkowski, Ren Scateni, Zanji Sinkala
Jury report: “For its mysterious atmosphere and rich imagery in depicting trauma and violence, for its capacity of dealing with 40 years of political turmoil through a powerful and hypnotic cinematic journey and for its compromise with the past in order to confront the present and the next future, the FIPRESCI prize for IFFR 2021 goes to The Edge of Daybreak by Taiki Sakpisit.”
A jury from the Kring van Nederlandse Filmjournalisten (Circle of Dutch Film Journalists) select their highlight from the Ammodo Tiger Short Competition for the KNF award.
Jury report: “This film looks like a documentary, but you start to ask yourself whether what you see is real. Nothing, however, is further from the truth. It makes a clear statement about the nature of art, and itself serves as a metaphor of this notion. It’s a satire on the developments within contemporary society, on how we try to push freedom into certain systemic patterns. The film stands out because of its tight framing and well-thought out compositions.”
The IFFR Youth Jury Award is awarded to the film that makes the biggest impression on IFFR 2021’s jury of young people based in Rotterdam.
Jury report: “The film we have chosen as the winner is a ground-breaking blend of genres that celebrates the many traditions of storytelling in a remarkably atmospheric fashion. It is an interdisciplinary film that combines song, dance and theatrical elements to tell its story. It successfully highlights the often-overlooked depth of African culture and mythology in a way that is innovative, enchanting and never fails to engage.”