Premieres fuel Rotterdam fest

60 pix to bow during 12-day event

ROTTERDAM — Holland’s biggest film event, the Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam, prides itself on being on the cutting edge of world cinema and, this year is no exception.

Five of 14 films in the main competition are directed by women, and there’s an influx of digital video (DV) lensers and non-traditional “cross-over” films.

The 32nd edition of the 12-day marathon unspools here Jan. 22 with opening pic “Far From Heaven,” U.S. director Todd Haynes’ exploration of suburban life in the ’50s.

The fest features some 60 world premieres. Eight world premieres are included in the 14 films in the VPRO Tiger Award competition for first and second time directors. The heart of the fest, the competish is “a magnet for sales agents looking to spot new talent,” says fest co-director Simon Field.

For the second year in a row, the Tiger Award lineup has bucked its tradition for showcasing Asian films: More than half of the pics or co-prods hail from Europe, four from Asia, one from Canada and none from the U.S.

Also in the Tiger competition, world premiere of Andrew Chang’s DV tale of China’s new gen urban subculture, “Welcome to Destination Shanghai,” reflects China’s digital revolution and the fest’s increased fascination with what it calls “exploding cinema” or crossover, film that crosses out of the traditional boundaries of cinema.

Also DV and in the Tiger line-up, the world premiere of U.K. director Simon Pummel’s “Bodysong” is a crossover from traditional cinema that is made to be seen on the Web as well.

Tiger competish pic and world premiere “Grieta,” an intense drama by helmer Santiago Loza, continues the fest’s focus on Argentina as a hotbed of young talent, as does sidebar the Hubert Bals Fund’s harvest of pics from southern or developing film territories.

While some 17 of the 120 feature films in the main program are from Asia, the European and American pics dominate it once again, with France set to unspool 13 films and Germany eight.

Among the seven from the U.S., two, Sean McGinly’s “Two Days” and Azazel Jacobs’ “Nobody Needs to Know,” are world premieres.

Five films by women directors — “more than in previous years, and all from different territories,” notes Field — show up in the Tiger competition, including world premieres of the French-Brazilian ing “Jave Valley” by Eliane Caffe, and Russia’s “With Love, Lilja” directed by Larisa Sadilova.

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