International Film Festival Rotterdam 

Earlier this year I was able to attend International Film Festival Rotterdam, supported by the Film Hub Midlands bursary scheme to support programming for the upcoming 17th iteration of Flatpack Festival in May and to develop my skills in film programming.

With it being the first film festival I attended outside of the UK, and my first time  travelling to the Netherlands, I found myself enthralled by the overwhelming amount of newness in the form of an abundant and diverse range of international independent and experimental films, alongside a streamlined, cinematic city to exhibit them in.

Embedding itself throughout the city, the IFFR annual take over the city didn’t go amiss, with the iconic tiger logo making appearances everywhere you look: pasted on the glass of coffee shop windows, projected onto pavements and a decently sized sculpture as you exit Rotterdam’s Central Train Station. 

My greatest challenge was navigating the festival programme that took place in several different cinemas across the city. Not wanting to fall into the trap of playing it safe, I may have instead fallen into the trap of taking a few too many risks, with not all of them paying off. Despite this, I was able to watch a whole lot of independent films that I might have never had a chance to come across if not for attending the festival.

My personal festival favourite was Las Demás, a Chilean bubblegum pink punk comedy following the friendship between two young women as one falls pregnant and needs to get an abortion. In a witty use of comedy to explore the politics around the abortion ban in Chile, the film speaks to an international audience as political agendas around abortion becomes increasingly conservative and those of marginalised genders become increasingly at risk of losing bodily autonomy. 

A second festival pick I was excited to see was the Pakistani film Kamli. Directed by one of the producers to work on the newly released and critically acclaimed Joyland, Kamli tells a tragic tale of a woman who has waited 8 years for her husband to return home. Although not as bold as Joyland in it’s depiction of patriarchal critique, Kamli shows off what Pakistani cinema seems to do best: poetic tragedy.

Overall, attending IFFR has been a pivotal moment for me in my programming career so far, and I can’t wait to put the new skills I’ve learnt from my experience to use. 

Juwairiyyah received a bursary from Film Hub Midlands to attend the IFFR.