Travel, Cinema and Beyond

If you happen to fly to Berlin, Rotterdam or Utah this winter, don’t neglect to peek in on the film festivals. And if you’re in İstanbul, be sure not to miss !f İstanbul!

Four different but major film festivals on two continents will add pizzazz to your travels in January and February. The first is the Sundance Film Festival, held in the U.S. state of Utah January 19 to 29. Before it’s over, the International Rotterdam Film Festival gets underway on January 25 ending on February 5, followed soon after by the Berlin International Film Festival February 9 to 19.

A Shrine to independent film

The distinguishing feature of the Sundance Film Festival is that it presents cinema alongside several other areas of art and life. The New Frontier category especially is a powerhouse of fascinating projects including, among others, Radical Games Against the Tyranny of Entertainment, Hunger in Los Angeles, and Question Bridge: Black Males.

New Questsin art

Radical Games Against the Tyranny of Entertainment is a collage of six plays that take the consumer culture, the culture industry and the multinational oil, fast food, media and mobile phone companies to task for harming society, the environment and the economy with their investments.

A minimalist in İstanbul

One of !f Istanbul’s most interesting guests this year is Michael Nyman. Known for the music of the film, Piano, Nyman will appear at the festival, February 16 to 26, with his film, Man with the Movie Camera. Afterwards you can attend an informal chat with the filmmaker. As always the festival is bringing cinema buffs more than 80 films in over 10 categories.

Workshop opportunity with gondry

Arguably the most exciting activity of the International Rotterdam Film Festival is Michel Gondry’s Home Movie Factory workshop. This French director, who started out making short films and music clips, offers participants a three-hour opportunity to shoot new, low-budget feature-length films à la his film, Be Kind, Rewind. No film experience or knowhow of any kind is required for participation. This project of Gondry’s highlights once again the authenticity of low-budget productions as opposed to the big budget extravagazas of the giant studios that have a monopoly over the industry. Another aspect of Rotterdam is that the films produced at Gondry’s earlier workshops in New York, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Paris will be screened for the first time at an official festival. The workshop opens on January 26 and runs to March 5.

Last stop before the oscars

This festival, where Seyfi Teoman’s Our Grand Despair had its world premiere last year and Fatih Akın earlier captured the Golden Bear, has the distinction of being the last big festival before the Oscars. The Berlinale is welcoming a number leading international directors and their films again this year, among them the jury chairman of the 2012 competition, English director Mike Leigh of films like Happy-Go-Lucky, Topsy-Turvy and Secrets & Lies.

Support for world cinema

One of the biggest boons of the 62nd Berlinale is the World Cinema Fund. Sponsored by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, Berlin International Film Festival and the Goethe Institute, the fund has already selected the projects it will back this year. Among the beneficiaries are directors José Luís Valle of Mexico, Celina Murga of Argentina, Fernando Guzzoni of Chile, Alicia Can of Uruguay and Donald Mugisha of Uganda.