Rotterdams Open Doek Festival – Shorts on the Silver Screen
We attended Rotterdams Open Doek Festival’ second edition; a carefully balanced and diverse program that offers something for everyone. From short films and seminars to talks ranging from local initiatives, such as Roffa Mon Amour, to big national directors.
Hosted at Lantaren Venster on the beautiful Wilhelminapier, Rotterdams Open Doek is a (semi)monthly event that screens the best short films submitted. Each edition concludes with the best short being selected by a combination of jury and audience votes. Last year, Rotterdams Open Doek noticed a void in Rotterdam’s festival scene and decided to step in and fill it with their own three-day short film festival.
As we enter the beautiful glass building on Friday evening, we are welcomed by a DJ spinning tunes; the stage is set. Rauwkost Collective’s film installation ‘Rotbeeld’ in the lobby surprises with new images daily. A set of analogue TVs’ piled on top of each other, displaying footage sent in by different makers. For the opening night though, it features images of characters from different films dancing and having a ball. From traditional musicals such as Singing in the Rain and Grease to Reservoir Dogs’ famous ‘ear scene’.
It’s time for the kick off and what a better way to start than with the season finale of Rotterdams Open Doek. The eight best shorts films are screened, fiction as well as documentary light up the silver screen. A special mention for ‘Buddy’ by Niels Bourgonje, a subdued story about an ex and a STD test, that lets the viewer fill in the details. ‘Vieze Vingers’ (‘Dirty Fingers’ in English) by Apollonia Duijster stood out as one of the bolder films, addressing the topic of female masturbation and featuring pillow talk with a bunch of very frank girls. As the night concludes with drinks, the festival is off to a whirling start, not only for Best Film winner Esmee van Loon, who impressed with her documentary ‘Ma’Maqueen’ about a drag queen with the desire to carry a child.
Saturday was the day that catered specifically to up and coming filmmakers from around the country, giving them the opportunity to talk to professionals in the business by going on 10 minute speed dates. Questions ranged from how to break into the industry, to pitching film ideas and asking for help. From there we jumped straight into a seminar hosted by Open Rotterdam: vlogging. As we all know by now, vlogging with your camera or phone might just be the future of filmmaking and in Open Rotterdams seminar we analyzed vlogs and discussed the benefits and limitations of the style.
The day was concluded by ‘Big Guest Deluxe’, a part of the festival that introduced three established filmmakers discussing the hardships and joys of filmmaking life. Bram Schouw who is premiering with his first feature film ‘Broers’ (starring, the also present Niels Gomperts), Menna Laura Meijer about how she turned her fascination for Maison Margiela into the documentary ‘We Margiela’ and Jean van de Velde who compared one of his earliest works to his most recent.
On Sunday we attended the second talkshow that features more talks with interesting filmmakers. Yana Haaitsma, at the age of only 15, speaks about her beautifully animated short ‘Bontje’, that she spend her school vacation creating in her room. The short won her a place in the Kunstbende national finals. Filmmaker Kristjan Knigge talks to us his filmmaking process, which he jokingly calls ‘agile filmmaking’ in which he takes his cast and crew on the road without a script and writes on the fly. He was able to produce his first feature film this way in only a few months.
After multiple blocks of short film premiers, ‘Best of 48 Hour International’ is one of the last program elements. Hosted by Hans Groenedijk, Rotterdam’s own 48 Hour Film Project organizer, the screening featured films made in just 48 hours, from concept to edit, with an assigned genre, character, line and prop. ‘Regression’, a subtle retelling of a traumatic invent impressed as Portugals submission and the Netherlands wasn’t underrepresented, with films from Amsterdam (‘My Pleasure’), Rotterdam (‘UNDERDOG’) and Leeuwarden (‘Giraffe’). Two of which were sent to the world finals. After the screening there is time for drinks, yet again, and some dancing to the tunes of the DJ as we come to terms with the end of the festival.
All in all, Rotterdams Open Doek Festival lived up the wonderful weekend it promised to be. Open Doek is an intimate festival with a focus on the makers. This small and intimate feel certainly has its benefits, but here’s to hoping the festival continues to grow and thrive in the years to come and claims its place as Rotterdams second big yearly film festival.