Even by the Berlinale’s patchy standards, this year’s Main Competition was an embarrassment, with Christian Petzold’s monumental Transit towering above a slipshod selection that otherwise ranged from forgettable to genuinely awful. Those critics who maintain that the festival’s best offerings are always found in Forum, the sidebar dedicated to more experimental fare (a loose categorization that starts just beyond the strictly narrative and stops short of the avant-garde), were certainly vindicated this time around. The program proved a goldmine, living up to its mission of showcasing new voices in international cinema and featuring several titles that would have more than merited a Competition slot.
Lucky dipping is a feature of most film festivals but at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, whose program spans some 500 titles of all lengths and genres, it functions as a structuring principle.
Prolific, eclectic, and wholly disinterested in highbrow pretentions, Dominik Graf never sought the distinction of auteur for himselfhe prefers craftsmanbut others bestowed it upon him regardless, as with sundry other genre mavericks across film history, from Jacques Tourneur to Paul W.S. Anderson.