Smallscreen fare makes a big splash

Rotterdam Film Festival/Dutch Cinema 2013

European film festivals are increasingly extending their mission to include television drama. Some argue that the miniseries is now the home of old-fashioned Hollywood storytelling, while others simply want to lure a public addicted to DVD boxed sets.

Rotterdam’s approach is slightly different. It is looking away from the U.S. to seek out known directors around the world who have moved into the space offered by TV. “We thought it would be interesting to see how they all work in the framework of the series and give it their own style,” says Inge de Leeuw, who has programmed the selection, dubbed Changing Channels.

The lineup includes the first showing outside Japan of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s domestic drama “Going My Home.” The plan is to screen the whole series, which runs a little over eight hours.

Also on the program are “Burning Bush,” a 240-minute series directed by Agnieszka Holland for HBO Central Europe, about the events of the Prague Spring in 1968-69; and “Profugos,” a drug-trafficking drama set in Chile, made for HBO Latin America by Pablo Larrain.

Even in genre series, such as “Profugos,” a director’s distinctive style comes through. “The first episode is quite standard, but then you see these Larrain subjects appear. It’s the same with Kore-eda,” says de Leeuw.

Also on the ticket are “Claun” by Felipe Braganca of Brazil; French series “Les Revenants” by Fabrice Gobert and Frederic Mermoud; and “Penance” by Kurosawa Kiyoshi of Japan.

These network dramas are complemented by an exploration of sitcom series by independent filmmakers, made for both television and the Web, and series developed exclusively for Internet viewing.

Here the focus comes back to the U.S., with episodes of TV series such as Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” and, from the Web, titles such as “Muscle Top” by Ry Russo-Young, “I Hate Being Single” by Rob Michael Hugel and “The Trivial Pursuits of Arthur Banks” by Peter Glanz.

The Web series are particularly interesting as calling cards for young helmers, de Leeuw says. “They have a much lower budget and much more freedom. They are very creative and less reliant on standard frameworks.”

This focus on TV and Web series is not intended to become a regular feature at Rotterdam. “I think it’s a one-off. Next year, if another director is doing a miniseries or something else for TV, we can show it in our normal program.”

Rotterdam Film Festival/Dutch Cinema 2013
Dutch pics grab the spotlight | Cinemart draws on local talent | Smallscreen fare makes a big splash