Because much of the abroad experience is spent traveling and bouncing around from country to country, you don’t always seize the opportunity to get to know your host city and country. Upon the arrival of the New Year, I decided that this term I wanted to truly get to know Rotterdam for all it’s quirks, traditions and locals only spots.
Luckily for me, I have a semester left and Rotterdam is an amazing city. Culture rich, modern and cozy all at the same time. To my surprise, the city hosts the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) – 12 full days and nights jam-packed with movie premieres, screenings, master classes with filmmakers and even nightly live performances and dance parties. This year was the 45th edition of the IFFR taking place on January 25 to February.
My auxiliary discipline at SDSU is Television, Film and Media, so this was a dream realized! I scrambled and bought tickets to a few screenings before they sold out.
The entire city was excitedly advertising the event through flags, festival specials at restaurants and cafés and metro station advertisements. The vibe and importance of the festival reminded me much of Comic Con in San Diego, but just without the batman costumes.
Of all the films I was lucky to see my absolute favorite was “Moonlight,” directed by Barry Jenkins. He’s a black American filmmaker from Miami whose film tackled issues of poverty, drug addiction, sexual identity and black identity in such a profound and moving way. Every choice made in the film – from color scheme, cinematography, editing, music to casting – completely left me in awe. It was a masterpiece that is nominated for the Oscar for best picture. Highly recommend!
But the best part (still pinching myself as I type this), was getting tickets to the intimate Q&A with Barry Jenkins himself! It was a definite fangirl moment. Seeing him in person and hearing him speak so eloquently about his experiences as a filmmaker and black man in America was an inspiring experience. His storytelling was deliberate and fascinating. It’s so rare to be able to pick the brain of a creative who’s work you are so transfixed by.
I am so grateful to have attended films and master classes at IFFR, especially “Moonlight.”
I have my beautiful city of Rotterdam to thank for that!
Kelsey Deguia is media studies major. She will be studying at Erasmus University in Rotterdam, the Netherlands for the 2016-17 academic year.