CineMart concept stills (clockwise: Other People’s Dreams, Les Diplomates, Hold Time for Me, A Distant House Smokes on the Horizon)
16 feature projects, 4 immersive media projects plus 6 Darkroom works-in-progress to be presented at IFFR's co-production market.
International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) announces its selection of 16 feature film projects and 4 immersive projects for the 41st edition of CineMart, running Sunday 28 to Wednesday 31 January. Additionally, potential co-production, sales and distribution partners can assess 6 Darkroom works-in-progress of which 4 are features and 2 immersive.
As ever, all corners of the globe are represented in the selection, from China to Tunisia, Singapore to Ireland, Angola to the Netherlands, and the subjects are suitably diverse – from shape-changing cherubs to the daughter of James Joyce, to a tale of three moody geraniums.
Six chain-smoking know-it-alls embark on a tragi-comedic polar expedition in 1918 Greenland for Another Journey without Women, directed by Illum Jacobi (The Trouble with Nature, IFFR 2020). The film features Greenlandic actor Hans-Henrik Suersaq Poulsen in the lead role, alongside David Dencik and Claes Bang (The Square, 2017) as the famed explorer Knud Rasmussen.
Lucia is directed by Irish filmmaker Aisling Walsh whose Maudie (2016), starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke, world-premiered in Telluride. The new project concerns the talented but eponymous, troubled daughter of author James Joyce.
In the hushed corridors and backrooms of Les Diplomates, two diplomatic counterparts from Austria and Switzerland secretly negotiate the contours of history as the Eastern Bloc disintegrates – fueled by a petty personal grudge. The project is directed by Swiss filmmaker Andreas Fontana, whose eerie thriller Azor (2021) picked up a handful of international awards. The snowcovered mountain roads of Switzerland play host to a queer spin on the car chase genre in Bad Gays, directed by Swiss filmmaker Loïc Hobi.
Across the border in Italy, Mara returns from Argentina to explore the mountains of her origin in Eduardo Crespo’s La gruta del viento. In fellow Argentinian filmmaker Natalia Meta’s The Spirit of Law, a congresswoman at the peak of her career faces an accusation by a chamber employee.
Two runaway souls escaping a dark past meet in the chaos of Singapore in Other People’s Dreams, directed by Singaporean filmmaker Daniel Hui, whose slow-burning psychodrama Small Hours of the Night has its world premiere at IFFR 2024.
The animated Cherub, by Polish feature debutant Barbara Rupik, tells of shape-shifting angelic beings who descend from the sky to a small, forgotten village to claim the soul of a dying girl. Another animated feature, Cloud of the Unknown by Yuan Gao, asks: “what if our dreams were the key to our real self and the door to a better world?” The project received Hubert Bals Fund (HBF) development support in 2019.
Also HBF-backed is A Distant House Smokes on the Horizon, the first fiction feature by Tiger Award-winning Chinese filmmaker Shengze Zhu (Present.Perfect, 2019), where on a sweltering summer day, three troubled teenagers set out on a reckless plan to escape the confines of their small town.
Angolan filmmaker Fradique (Air Conditioner, IFFR 2020) brings his latest project Hold Time for Me, set in a country where trees talk and cars become boats in the desert. The Finnish Skarpnabba, directed by feature debutant Sawandi Groskind, tells of a truck driver and his teenage daughter who witness the death of a child in 1960 only for the once-deceased child to reappear decades later in Helsinki.
The Sunflowers of the Moon is directed by Tunisian filmmaker ismaël, whose stylised, dark thriller Black Medusa (co-directed with Youssef Chebbi) was in the Tiger Competition in 2021. Another returning Tiger filmmaker is Alejandro Telémaco Tarraf (Piedra Sola) who brings Alumbre, on a wounded man’s confrontation with pain and belonging. La Nuit is the feature debut of two-time Tiger Short Competition-winner Beatrice Gibson. In the film, after an abortion, a woman wanders the streets, embarking on a series of quiet encounters under a neon glow.
The Possessed is directed by Dutch-based Bosnian filmmaker Ena Sendijarević, whose Sweet Dreams is this year’s Dutch submission for the Oscars. In her new project, eccentric director Diana shoots a film about the effects of a witch hunt on the modern female psyche on an isolated island, but nothing goes as planned.
Three moody geraniums take control of their fate and plan their escape from the windowsill in The Great Escape (of three geraniums) by Belgian animator Joren Vandenbroucke. Fathoming, directed by Italian artist Sara Tirelli, immerses the audience within an infinite descent toward an underwater abyss, posing a poetic quest through the liquid fabric of existence.
The March by Amsterdam-based photojournalist Leo Erken and composer Frieda Gustavs is a non-linear VR opera-without-words that deals with our relations and responsibilities to war in our society. The Australian project The World Came Flooding In, directed by Isobel Knowles and Van Sowerwine (Passenger, IFFR 2020; Night Creatures, IFFR 2023), is an immersive documentary installation that reveals the devastating human impact of flooding and climate emergency.
Making a welcome return for its second edition is the Darkroom programme of work-in-progress screenings of former CineMart and HBF-supported projects, taking place on Tuesday 30 January 2024. Selected teams will receive expert consultancy and have the chance to present their work to an exclusive panel of international sales agents, festival programmers and buyers. The selection includes four feature projects and two immersive projects.
In Diamonds in the Sand, directed by Janus Victoria, an ageing salaryman leaves the comforts of Tokyo and goes to unpredictable Manila to escape kodokushi, the lonely death. Mongrel is directed by Taiwan-based Singaporean filmmaker Wei Liang. In the mountains of Taiwan, Oom, an undocumented migrant, struggles to preserve his humanity as he cares for the elderly and disabled.
The Idyll is directed by Aaron Rookus, whose Goodbye Stranger world-premiered in IFFR Limelight in 2023. In this life affirming mosaic drama we follow six different people, searching for the same near impossible thing, the perfect fulfilment of life. La vie devant nous, directed by Olivier Meys, tells the story of Jahia, a 16-year-old girl from Burkina Faso who lives in a centre for asylum seekers in Belgium. Without perspective, Jahia has a fear of the future that isolates her and prevents her from living. One day, she meets Mila, a young Belarusian girl, who drags her along in her wild energy.
In a neighbourhood of the town of Ubud in Bali, part of the culture has disappeared. Alternates by Jonathan Hagard is a musical uchronia that explores the consequences of that disappearance.
Duchampiana by Lilian Hess is an artistic VR experience focused on body politics. Taking Duchamp’s notorious Nude Descending a Staircase as its point of departure, this immersive installation invites viewers to engage in a physical transgression of social constructs. The protagonist's journey up an infinite staircase turns into a poetic exploration of what it means to claim one's place in the world.
Click here for project concept stills
IFFR is set to welcome industry, press and audiences from 25 January to 4 February 2024. The IFFR Pro Days will take place Friday 26 to Wednesday 31 January, with CineMart running 28 to 31 January.
The IFFR Pro Awards, recognising projects from the CineMart and Darkroom selection, will be presented on the evening of Tuesday 30 January 2024 including the recently created Eurimages New Lab Awards, consisting of an Innovation Award for projects in development and an Outreach Award for work-in-progress projects, the ARTEKino International Prize, the Wouter Barendrecht Award, the VIPO Award, and the 4DR Studios Award.
Applications for accreditation are open. Industry and press should submit their request before 23 December.
Click here for Industry dates
Alumbre, dir. Alejandro Tarraf, Spain
Produced by: Zeitun Films
Another Journey without Women, dir. Illum Jacobi, Denmark
Produced by: Adomeit Film
Bad Gays, dir. Loïc Hobi, Switzerland
Produced by: Cloud Fog Haze Pictures
Cherub, dir. Barbara Rupik, Poland
Produced by: Madants
Cloud of the Unknown, dir. Yuan Gao, Hong Kong, France
Produced by: Chinese Shadows, Shasha & Co Production
Les Diplomates, dir. Andreas Fontana, Switzerland, United Kingdom
Produced by: Alina Film
A Distant House Smokes on the Horizon, dir. Shengze Zhu, China, United States
Produced by: Burn The Film
Fathoming, dir. Sara Tirelli, Italy
Produced by: dispàrte
The Great Escape (of three geraniums), dir. Joren Vandenbroucke, Belgium
Produced by: Animal Tank
La gruta del viento, dir. Eduardo Crespo, Argentina
Produced by: Pensar con las manos
Hold Time for Me, dir. Fradique, Angola, Germany, Spain
Produced by: SEERA Films, Uika Films, Migranta Films
Lucia, dir. Aisling Walsh, Ireland, Luxembourg
Produced by: EZ Films, JKML, Calach Films
The March, dir. Frieda Gustavs & Leo Erken, Netherlands, Ukraine
Produced by: NL12
La Nuit, dir. Beatrice Gibson, United Kingdom, France
Produced by: Somesuch, Norte Productions
Other People’s Dreams, dir. Daniel Hui, Singapore
Produced by: Momo Film Co, 13 Little Pictures
The Possessed, dir. Ena Sendijarević, Netherlands
Produced by: Aventura
Skarpnabba, dir. Sawandi Groskind, Finland
Produced by: Kenno Filmi Osk
The Spirit of Law, dir. Natalia Meta, Argentina
Produced by: Picnic Producciones, Rei Cine
The Sunflowers of the Moon, dir. ismaël, Tunisia
Produced by: Utopia Films
The World Came Flooding In, dir. Isobel Knowles & Van Sowerwine, Australia
Produced by: Film Camp
Alternates, dir. Jonathan Hagard, France, Japan
Produced by: Floréal
Diamonds in the Sand, dir. Janus Victoria, Japan, Philippines
Produced by: Paperheart
Duchampiana, dir. Lilian Hess, France, Germany
Produced by: Tchikiboum
The Idyll, dir. Aaron Rookus, Netherlands, Belgium, Estonia
Produced by: Studio Ruba
Mongrel, dir. Wei Liang Chiang, France, Taiwan, Singapore
Produced by: E&W Films
La vie devant nous, dir. Olivier Meys, Belgium, France, Luxembourg
Produced by: Michigan Films