ROTTERDAM – The International Film Festival Rotterdam unveiled its major awards on Friday (Feb. 1), with the most prestigious prize, the Hivo Tiger Awards, going to Mira Fornay’s My Dog Killer, Daniel Hoesl’s Soldier Jane and Mohammad Sirvani’s Fat Shaker.
The winners of the prize – which has traditionally been given to three films – were chosen from a slate of 16 entries, all of which are either first or second feature-length efforts. Austria’s Hoesl and Iran’s Sirvani are both making their feature-film debut here, with Slovakia’s Fornay is in competition with her sophomore offering.
A Slovak-Czech co-production, My Dog Killer revolves around a young man split between his new-found fascination with local neo-Nazis and his bond with his newly-arrived mother and half-brother. Produced by Hoesl’s own A European Film Conspiracy collective, Soldier Jane focuses on two women’s attempts to subvert the capitalist, commodity-driven world around them.
Sirvani’s Fat Shaker, meanwhile, departs from common perceptions of Iranian cinema à la Kiarostami and Panahi with a timeline-jumping, enigmatic chronicle of a bullying, bearded bear of a man and his deaf-and-mute son. The filmmaker, who has been known previously as a visual artist, also contributed an installation for an exhibition running in parallel to the festival’s Inside sidebar.
The Tiger Award jury consisted of Iranian actress Fatemeh Motamedarya, Russian filmmaker Sergei Loznitsa (Palme d’Or nominees My Joy and In the Fog), Dutch director Kees Hin, Seville European Film Festival director Jose Luis Cienfuegos, and Chinese visual artist and social advocate Ai Weiwei. Ai, who was deemed persona non grata by the Chinese government and regularly refused permission to travel abroad, was not present in Rotterdam, but recorded a video message which was shown at the awards ceremony at the De Doelen cultural complex.
The Netpac award, given to the best Asian film at the festival, went to the Indonesian entry What They Don’t Talk About When They Talk About Love. Part of the festival’s Bright Future section, Mouly Surya’s film is set in a school for the blind and partially-sighted, and examines three students’ love lives. Like Fat Shaker, Surya’s project was a recipient of the Rotterdam festival’s Hubert Bals Fund. Alberto Gracia’s The Fifth Gospel of Kasper Hauser, another Bright Future entry, won the Fipresci award.
Other prizes given out at the Friday evening ceremony included The Big Screen Award (won by Italian Salvatore Mereu’s Pretty Butterflies), the KNF Award (Alicia Scherson’s Chile-Germany-Italy-Spain co-production The Future). The Rotterdam festival concludes on Saturday with a screening of Park Chan-wook’s Stoker.