• Vitor Miranda

The Top 10 films from the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2022

As my first year covering the International Film Festival Rotterdam, I decided to make a Top 10 list with the best films I watched during the festival. With movies from all over the world, the festival had a rich catalogue. Here's the best from the lineup, that surely deserves more visibility:

10. BARBARIAN INVASION (野蛮人入侵)
DIRECTED BY TAN CHUI MUI

'Barbarian Invasion' tells the story of an award winning actress who is trying to get a new leading role in an action film. The actress finds herself in a difficult situation when the director tells her the only way she would be part of the film is if her ex-husband works in it too. The meta filmmaking creates a rich storyline that lets Tan Chui Mui shine as an actress and as a director. Her performance is both physical and dramatic and Chui never disappoints, carrying the entire film on her back with a stunning performance.


9. THE CLOUD MESSENGER (MEGHDOOT)
DIRECTED BY RAHAT MAHAJAN

Creating a version of Romeo and Juliet that transcends time is not an easy job, but Mahajan managed to achieve a layered film filled with metaphors about the afterlife. The film may be a little repetitive and on the nose but Mahajan is so secure about his work that even when the film gets a little stuck by the treacherous screenplay he manages to overcome it creating a world where love is the main reason to live.


8. THE DREAM AND THE RADIO (LE RÊVE ET LA RADIO)
DIRECTED BY RENAUD DESPRÉS-LAROSE

With an experimental and poetic filmmaking, Renaud Després-Larose creates a work of political and philosophical art about a group of Bohemian friends who find themselves involved in a terrorist attack. As much as the film may seem a little pretentious and vague at first, the story is captivating enough to win over the audience. Challenging the viewer as a slow burn that takes its time before taking any big steps, the film is much more interested in observation than in action, which can be frustrating if you are not used to movies like this.


7. YAMABUKI
DIRECTED BY YAMASAKI JUICHIRO

While approaching several relevant subjects, Yamabuki never feels overstuffed. All the stories told by the film are compelling, even if the bleak aura that surrounds the lives of the characters make the experience a little bit miserable. It's a story about finding youself, whether it's politically or not. It tells stories about morality and immigration with the same emphatic eye from the director, who creates a masterwork that hunts you even after the film is over.


6. HOLD ME TIGHT (SERRE-MOI FORT)
DIRECTED BY MATHIEU AMALRIC

'Hold Me Tight' is a haunting and melancholic portrait of memories and loss. Vicky Krieps gives the best peformance of her career as a grieving mother and wife while Mathieu Amalric hits all the emotional notes as he is able to overcome the melodramatic aspect of the story. It may be a tearjerk but the emotions never feel undeserved.


5. THE CHILD (A CRIANÇA)
DIRECTED BY MARGUERITE DE HILLERIN AND FÉLIX DUTILLOY-LIÉGEOIS

'The Child' is a fascinating story about the lies and secrets that are kept by a Portuguese family. Marguerite de Hillerin and Félix Dutilloy-Liégeois builds this web of lies with a perfect screenplay and cinematography. The film gets more interesting as the secrets of the family start to unravel, creating a chain reaction that culminates in a brutal end to their story.


4. SPLENDID ISOLATION
DIRECTED BY URSZULA ANTONIAK

Working as a tale about love and death caused by a disease, Splendid Isolation feels as timely as possible and the director Urszula Antoniak knows that. Creating a film about isolation and social distancing can hit too close to home nowadays, but the film surpasses its premise creating a complex work about loving someone but not being able to save them. The ending is one of the most beautiful sequences of the year and will linger in your mind for days after you watch it.


3. FREDA
DIRECTED BY GESSICA GÉNÉUS

The directing debut of Gessica Généus is as good as it gets. The film shows the marks and the traumas caused by colonialism and how it affectes the country and its own culture. Néhémie Bastien gives one of the best performances of the year as she is able to create a raw portrait of a woman fighting for freedom, even if she doesn't know what it truly means.


2. THE PLAINS
DIRECTED BY DAVID EASTEAL

David Easteal's epic documentary is created just based on real life interactions and conversations, without relying on any kind of visual or technical aspect. The ordinary life is the main point here and even if the three hours long runtime scares you at first, it's so endearing that you cannot be indifferent to what they are showing here. Sometimes the beauty of the every day life can be something that feels out of reach, so when you get to appreciate these kind of moments it can be magical.


1. ANATOMY OF TIME (WELA)
DIRECTED BY JAKRAWAL NILTHAMRONG

Anatomy of Time is a modern masterpiece created by Jakrawal Nilthamrong, a director that you should certainly look out for in the following years. From the stunning cinematography to the exquisite score, the film is so well crafted that every scene of it could be put in a museum. It's truly a unique and once in a lifetime experience that I wish more people would be willing to witness.