Forty-one years and perpetually young at heart, the Rotterdam International Film Festival is a distinguished venue for cinematic discovery. It debuts more first and second films by emerging filmmakers than just about any festival in the world, with its prestigious Tiger Award bestowed upon three up-and-coming talents. With a special emphasis on films from Latin America, Africa and Asia, there's a clear mission to foster a truly global film culture. This year, new ground was broken along gender lines: for the first time all three Tiger Awards went to women directors. More noteworthy is how different the winning films are, each with their own way of telling their respective young heroine's story on screen.
The most controversial winner by far is "Clip," by Serbian filmmaker Maja Miloš, in which a 14-year old girl spirals down a teen vortex of drinking, drugs and sex. The last activity is almost always captured on camera phones, suggesting that today's teens can't enjoy sex without a video mediator. What's more, hardly any shots are filmed from the girl's point of view, especially the sex scenes, which are seen from the male partner's perspective through the camera phones. Is Milos suggesting that girls today can't help but see themselves as sex objects, influenced by their exposure to online porn clips and slutty pop songs? Provocative stuff, but Milos' treatment of the subject feels more exploitive than exploratory, rubbing the audience's noses in teen debauchery to cheap effect. While many critics deemed it a realistic portrayal of juvenile delinquency in the digital age, to me it seemed like an update of the hypocritical sordidness found in movies like Larry Clark's "Kids."
Read the full report on RogerEbert.com.
Kevin B. Lee is Editor in Chief of Press Play, and contributor to RogerEbert.com and Fandor. Follow him on Twitter.