Rotterdam Lines Up

Henrik M. Dahlsbakken’s Munch (2023)

Four actors play Edvard Munch, the Norwegian painter best known for his 1893 work The Scream, in Henrik M. Dahlsbakken’s Munch, which will premiere on January 25 as the opening night film of the 2023 edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam. This will be the first in-person IFFR since 2020, and the Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Roxborough notes that the lineup is about twenty percent thinner than those of prepandemic editions. “But we still have 430 films in the program, including shorts, with more than 200 world premieres,” festival director Vanja Kaludjercic tells him, “so we are still very big.”

Alfred Ekker Strande will portray Munch at the age of twenty-one, Mattis Herman Nyquist at thirty, Ola G. Furuseth at forty-five, and Anne Krigsvoll at eighty in four chapters written by separate screenwriters and shot in varying styles and aspect ratios. Olaf Möller, a programmer for the IFFR, points out that Munch, a close friend of writer and anarchist Hans Jæger, “was someone different to different people: skandalon, freethinker, sexual adventurer, bore, genius—you name it, someone saw it in him, usually with good reason.”

Sixteen films will premiere in the Tiger Competition, including One Last Evening, the first feature from German director Lukas Nathrath and the winner of the First Look Award when it was previewed in Locarno. Shot over seven summer days at the height of the pandemic for next to no money, One Last Evening is set in the empty apartment of a couple about to move from Hanover to Berlin. They’re trying to throw a party, but their friends aren’t coming. Instead, uninvited guests show up.

Variety has an intriguing trailer for Martin Skovbjerg’s Copenhagen Does Not Exist, an adaptation of Terje Holtet Larsen’s 1998 novel Sander, in which a young man is interrogated by the father of his lover—who has disappeared. Eskil Vogt, who frequently works with Joachim Trier, has written the screenplay and the film will premiere in the Big Screen Competition.

Retrospectives will be devoted to the work of Hungarian writer and director Judit Elek, Japanese animator Yuasa Masaaki, and American interdisciplinary artist Stanya Kahn. “We are never going to have a retrospective of, say, Jean-Luc Godard,” Kaludjercic tells Variety’s Marta Bałaga. “We want to focus on artists and filmmakers that we feel deserve more attention. We dig deeper where others don’t look.”

The festival originally commissioned Sunshine State, a two-channel video projection by Steve McQueen, for 2021’s fiftieth edition, but then the Omicron variant hit. Now the work incorporating images from The Jazz Singer (1927), starring Al Jolson, can finally be presented as part of the Art Directions program.

This year’s Robby Müller Award, named for the cinematographer who worked with Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, and Peter Bogdanovich, will go to Hélène Louvart. Among the recent films shot by the French cinematographer—who has also worked with Wenders—are Alice Rohrwacher’s Happy as Lazzaro (2018), Eliza Hittman’s Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020), and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s The Lost Daughter (2021). Opening a few days before Sundance wraps, IFFR 2023 will run through February 5.

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