Rotterdam International Film Festival

The fortieth anniversary of the International Film Festival Rotterdam was marked by some natural growing pains. The Lantaren/Venster Cinema, the cynosure of the festival since its inception, moved to new headquarters across the River Meuse—a more salubrious space, to be sure, but also one somewhat out of the way for filmgoers accustomed to having all of Rotterdam’s venues within walking distance. In order to reinvigorate itself after forty years, the festival sponsored an ambitious city-wide event entitled “IFFR XL” Films— video installations, even a temporary cinema book shop were among the attractions scattered at various sites, most of them not far from the primary festival cinemas. To cite a prototypical example, a short stroll to Schouwburgplein in downtown Rotterdam brought the visitor to an unusually impish piece of video art by Koen Theys—a skillfully assembled agglutination of hundreds of YouTube renditions of the Swedish rock band Europe’s “The Final Countdown,” a ditty performed in a dizzying, not to mention frequently ludicrous, panoply of styles on everything from brass band to harmonica. What many had assumed to be a rather silly anthem sung at sporting events becomes transformed into something of a litmus test for the prowess of amateur performers with their eyes on the prize of stardom.

Richard Porton – Cineaste
No.3 2011