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I’m a few days into this festival, and it’s been a little rough. More misses than hits. And you never know at these huge film festivals whether it’s just not a good year or you’re making the wrong choices. It’s very difficult. By deciding on a film, it means you are also choosing NOT to see the twenty or more other films playing at the same time. You are constantly having long, abstract interior negotiations with yourself, weighing the potential ups and downs of a film you know next-to-nothing about. All serious film buffs have a masochistic steak.
Today started out strangely. A really bad stomach ache came on suddenly after breakfast. I actually called the traveler’s aid department of my health insurer, to ask them what they thought I should do. I was in strong pain. They needed to research hospitals in the area, and told me they’d call back in 30 minutes. I started gathering things, sad and resigned to going to a hospital, but I started feeling better. It began to pass. They called with recommended hospitals, but I didn’t go. I decided to tough it out and see what happens. I feel much better, but still not right. This cast a slightly sinister pall on the day.
Two of my screenings today perfectly encapsulate the Rotterdam aesthetic. I went directly from a harrowing documentary on the Lord’s Resistance Army in Northern Uganda, who have massacred thousands and are notorious for their recruitment of child soldiers; to a pornographic Brazilian comedy called FUK FUK A BRASILEIRA. It’s showing as part of a retrospective of low-budget films of all genres produced from 1967 to 1987 in Sao Paulo’s poor Boca do Lixo district.
There are several other sidebars and retrospectives, but the one I’m looking forward to is called “Signals: Power Cut Middle East.” It surveys new work from Egypt and Syria. Not so much dramatic features, but a lot of documentary, experimental, and on-the-street witness footage. I’m seeing two of these programs tomorrow.
Wish me luck on my tummy trouble. I’m doing this all for you.