Shorts get respect at Rotterdam

Festival engages youth through video artists

Rotterdam’s increasing cultivation of video artists is nowhere more apparent than in the shorts section, under Peter Van Hoof’s supervision. “The whole cinema landscape is changing very rapidly,” Van Hoof says, “while we people who work for festivals have this strange notion that these festivals have been here for ages and will continue to exist for hundreds of years.”

By challenging traditional notions of cinema and providing an alternative to what’s on offer elsewhere, the Rotterdam team believes they can engage younger generations who need convincing that their filmgoing experience can’t be duplicated through downloads.

In terms of trends, Van Hoof sees increased interest in political, social and environmental issues: “I’ve seen some very beautiful examples of these kinds of works, where the art form not just stands on the side and comments but is part of society. You see this earlier in short films than in features, so it means that the trend will continue in feature films in coming years. Four or five years ago I was quite bothered with the fact that I saw interesting films visually, but subjectwise I wasn’t really touched by it. And this has changed quite drastically in the last three years.”

Unsurprisingly, many of the filmmakers Van Hoof is most excited by are video artists better known to devotees of galleries and art biennials. Included in the list are Joost Rekveld, whose “#37” receives its world premiere after four years in production. Hot names in the contemporary museum world, like Phil Collins and Yves Netzhammer, will also be showing their work in this year’s edition, with the shorts concentrated in the festival’s first five days.

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