Debutantes shine in Rotterdam competish

Thirteen of 15 titles are first features

Untested talent dominates the Tiger Awards competish at the Rotterdam Film Festival, which opens Jan. 25. Thirteen of the 15 titles announced Wednesday are debut features and eight are world preems.

In a field of unknowns, Icelandic gangster movie “Black’s Game” stands out for its connections. Pic is based on Stefan Mani’s bestseller, “Black Curse,” and was executive produced by “Drive” helmer Nicolas Winding Refn.

South Korean debutant Lee Kwang-kuk also has links, thanks to assistant director credits on Hong Sang-soo’s “Tale of Cinema” and “Hahaha.” His “Romance Joe” presents intertwined stories served up to a filmmaker by a feisty waitress.

Dominga Sotomayor’s road movie, “Thursday Till Sunday,” boasts cinematography from Latin American lenser Barbara Alvarez (“Whisky,” “The Headless Woman”).

The two directors with track record are Russia’s Vasily Sigarev and Japan’s Okuda Yosuke.

Sigarev’s “Wolfy” toured European fests in 2009, and he returns with “Living,” a grim portrait of existence in a wintry Russian town.

Okuda’s low-budget gangster comedy, “Hot as Hell: The Deadbeat March,” played here in 2011, and he explores similar ground this year in the better resourced “Tokyo Playboy Club.”

The only film with a U.S. connection is “It Looks Pretty From a Distance,” by Polish artists Anka and Wilhelm Sasnal, produced by New York’s Anton Kern Gallery.

TIGER AWARDS COMPETITION 2012

“A Fish,” Park Hong-min (South Korea)

“Black’s Game,” Oskar Thor Axelsson (Iceland)

“Clip,” Maja Milos (Serbia)

“Egg and Stone,” Huang Ji (China)

“In April the Following Year, There Was a Fire,” Wichanon Somumjarn (Thailand)

“It Looks Pretty From a Distance,” Anka Sasnal and Wilhelm Sasnal (Poland, U.S.)

“L,” Babis Makridis (Greece)

“Living,” Vasily Sigarev (Russia)

“Neighboring Sounds,” Kleber Mendonca Filho (Brazil)

“Return to Burma,” Midi Z (Taiwan, Myanmar)

“Romance Joe,” Lee Kwang-kuk (South Korea)

“Southwest,” Eduardo Nunes (Brazil)

“Thursday Till Sunday,” Dominga Sotomayor (Chile, Netherlands)

“Tokyo Playboy Club,” Okuda Yosuke (Japan)

“Voice of My Father,” Orhan Eskikoy and Zeynel Dogan (Turkey, Germany)

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