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Dr. Zaius' trip to the Rotterdam Film Festival, with updated details on SWIMMING

Old Dr. Zaius attended some the great film fest in Rotterdam last week and here is a thumbnail sketch of what all he saw and did while there...

I return to Maastricht at about 8:30 PM (20:30 hours)Saturday night, took a shower, talked with my students, down loaded some pictures from the weekend and got on line.

This is just a summary report of what little I was able to get done. I only had 2 days of movies and Saturday was a bit of a wash. Here's a quick run down.


Eating Air - Singapore (teenage working class - rather good, I liked it)

The Making of a New Empire - Dutch (documentary on Chenya - also interesting, pretty good)

Kiss Me So Hard I Can't Breathe Japanese (assassination / crime drama - too much the art film - hated it)

Swimming American (shot around Myrtle Beach, young adult sort-a-summer-sort-of-coming-of-age-drama - excellent, probably the best thing I saw - also I got to participate in question & answers and to talk with the director - any buzz yet on this one?)


O!Warning - Germany (skin head movie, OK film, also talked with director and one of the actors - that was fun)

Pink Prison - Danish (Pornography, seriously a porno film at a film festival and I got to catch it when it was given additional screens - disappointment at not being able to talk with director or star - what can I compare it to, its silly to treat it as a serious movie (shot all in video) but for porno it get two palms up.

The Uprising - Korean (docudrama about a rebellion against Christians on an inland in 1901 Korea - not too bad either).

Now for the good news. I raided the Hilton festival center and grabbed all promotional materials I could find. I also have most days of the Daily Tiger - a nice little festival related newspaper (each edition is 1/2 Dutch the other 1/2 in English). I will send all these materials to you guys ASAP. I figure any good spy is only as good as the analyst back at HQ.

And by the way- thanks for the encouragement to go - it was a lot of fun. I'll be here (Netherlands) till the end of April - are there any more spy missions I could do for you all?


Dr. Zaius

Here's Zaius' more detailed report on SWIMMING

"Its the start of another Carolina summer, and its becoming increasingly clear to Frankie Wheeler, a young local, that she wants more out of life than Myrtle Beach can offer her. She spends her days working in her family's restaurant and wastes her nights hanging out on the boardwalk with her best friend. Nicola, proprietor of a piercing shop and self-proclaimed trouble seeker. Frankie has always played sidekick to Nicola, so neither is prepared when two new arrivals, a young siren hired as a waitress, and a drifter selling tie-dyes out of the back of his van, court only Frankie. Nicola's ensuing jealousy sets in motion a series of betrayals driving a wedge into their friendship and forces Frankie to take a stand for herself. Swimming is an intimate look at friendship, love and breaking away, set amidst the backdrop of a bustling beach town."

After the film, the Director Robert J. Siegel came out for some Q & A. This is what I have in my notes. The script is based on the work of a student writer. Siegel is a professor at NYU Purchase (I believe the same place Hilary made her formal announcement for the Senate race over the weekend). The student writer based the story on her experiences doing body piecing for four years in Myrtle Beach. There eventually where three writers on the script, with each contributing aspects of the different characters. What we were looking at on Friday the 4th had only been finished the week before. Siegel had been at Sundance then flew to Rotterdam (picking up the flu on the way).

When asked how to market the film (teenage coming of age, summer time, girl buddy movie?) his response indicated he really was not trying to fit the movie into a particular genre. When asked about the lesbian angle (Note: This is not a lesbian movie), he emphasized that this is not about sexual orientation. He talked of the film as being more about loneliness and "being alone in a crowd", the powerful attraction of a popular new comer and coming to terms with the faults and imperfections of those we care about.

They were very careful with the makeup for the lead actress who played Frankie. They worked to subtle change her looks as she grows through the film. It works well on the subconscious level. He said the lead actress (my apologies for not getting her name and its not in the promotional material I have) had a real challenge acting some what passively so the other characters could express themselves.

They shot the film on a very low budget, with many performers taking little or no salary.

A final comment. I see from the talk back some interest in these out of the mainstream movies. I hope this submission encourages movie lovers out there to seek these small gems out. The best ones are made with care and heart and if your tired of the same old "Blowed Up" films that consume immense amounts of Hollywood capital then go to your theater manager and ask about the independents and smaller films, talk to your friends about some of the small films you've seen reviewed here. Seek out the theaters that play these types of films. The Blair Witch Project gave Hollywood a wake up call, with your support (or demand) better fair will be made more available. Your the consumer, so vote with your $$$$ - a language Hollywood knows.

More later,

Dr. Zaius

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