Rotterdam Film Festival: Rotterdam section Signals includes communist Westerns and fashion films

October 5, 2010 – The International Film Festival Rotterdam announces the first two of the themed programmes in the festival’s Signals section. The first of these, Red Westerns, presents Soviet and Eastern European Westerns from the period from 1924 to 1980; the second, ‘Out of Fashion’, explores the growing interaction between the fashion industry and independent filmmaking. In Signals, IFFR devotes attention to current and historical developments in the area of film. The 40th IFFR will take place from 26 January to 6 February 2011.

Red Westerns


From the 1920s to the 1980s, a communist version of the Western genre was extremely popular in the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. IFFR 2011 will be screening the first ever sizeable overview of these almost forgotten genre productions, which have seldom been seen at in ‘the West’, in spite of the fact they are very interesting from both historical and cinematic viewpoints. The striking Red Westerns series will show just how successfully a pre-eminently Western film genre was tailored to the Communist ideology by introducing, for example, unexpected heroic characters. The programme therefore gives insights into the way popular blockbusters were made in an era of socialistic realism.


Red Westerns, compiled by IFFR programmer Ludmila Cvikova and Russian film critic Sergei Lavrentyev, will also screen in 2011 at the Gothenburg IFF (Sweden), Crossing Europe in Linz (Austria), Era New Horizons in Wroclaw (Poland) and IFF Bratislava (Slovakia). A special publication will accompany the programme. For the occasion, Mosfilm Studio’s in Moscow made new, English subtitled prints from five of the films in the Red Westerns programme.


The starting point for the ‘Red Westerns’ programme is the silent film Extraordinary Adventures of Mr. West in a Bolshevik's Land (1924) by Russian film pioneer and theoretician Lev Kuleshov. The programme, which will be made up of approximately fifteen films, also contains Niekas nenorejo mirti (No One Wanted To Die, 1966, directed by Vytautas Zalakevicius) – a Western filmed in Lithuania that was voted Best Film by the readers of ‘Soviet Screen' in 1966 – and two East German DEFA productions: Die Söhne des großen Bärin (The Sons of Great Mother Bear, 1965, directed by Josef Mach, poster image) and Chingachgook, die große Schlange (Chingachgook, the Great Snake, 1967, directed by Richard Groschopp). In the latter two films, the Mongolian, Bulgarian, Yugoslav, Czechoslovakian landscapes stand for the Wild West and Gojko Mitic – originally a Serbian sports instructor – stars in the lead roles.


Out of Fashion


The themed programme Out of Fashion shows how fashion houses, avant-garde designers and young, as yet undiscovered fashion designers are using film, video and online media to realise, distribute and sell their designs and visions. The creativity of fashion designers has long been reflected in the arts – particularly in the film world (in costume design). Video and online applications have given an impulse to the possibilities for designers and fashion houses to profile themselves and develop artistically in new ways.


As a result, interaction between independent filmmakers and fashion houses has increased markedly in recent years. In Out of Fashion, IFFR programmer Inge de Leeuw will be bringing together recent films and video art through which designers and fashion houses have presented themselves in artistically challenging and innovative ways. Out of Fashion shows that filmmakers enjoy a great deal of freedom when making commissioned works. 


Out of Fashion will be showing the documentary Pyuupiru 2001-2008 by Daishi Matsunaga, which examines the work and life of the Japanese fashion designer and transgender artist.


IFFR 2011: Signals


Signals is one of the three main sections at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, alongside Bright Future (films by beginning filmmakers and the Tiger Awards Competitions) and Spectrum (films by established directors). In Signals, IFFR presents current or historical themed programmes and oeuvres. During IFFR 2011, Signals will consist – alongside Red Westerns and Out of Fashion – of Raiding Africa, a themed programme on Chinese-African relations, including new work by African filmmakers made in China. More Signals programmes will be announced later.