De Ateliers at International Film Festival Rotterdam

At the International Rotterdam Film Festival 2020, new films will be screened by guest tutor Janis Rafa, guest tutor and former participant Erik van Lieshout, and former participant Giovanni Giaretta.


JANIS RAFA, Kala azar, 2020, 85’

A canary, a dog, a cat – even a fish. The young couple employed by the pet crematorium collect them all. She mumbles something about forms that have to be filled in at this difficult time and ashes that will be returned within 24 hours. He wraps the departed pet in a blanket and puts it in the back of the jeep. They hardly speak during the rest of the day. They drive through a post-apocalyptic landscape on the shabby periphery of an industrial city. They make love, swim and are surprised by the large numbers of dead animals strewn along the roadside. When they hit a stray dog, their relationship starts to derail. The universe has lost its harmony.

In Kala azar, the camera regularly hangs at dog’s eye level, so we see mainly feet and legs. Humans and animals communicate in similar ways: without words, with a growl and a shove. This also applies to the girl’s parents, who live with a pack of dogs, and the silent migrant workers in a dusty chicken hatchery. Only the hunters at the neighbouring shooting range are loud and heartless – a different archetype.

Kala azar is named after an infectious disease decimating the canine population of Southern Europe. But this enigmatic debut is mainly about the thin line between life and death, the spiritual connection between human and animal and the fragility of love between humans.


ERIK VAN LIESHOUT, Beer, 2019, 35’

Erik van Lieshout wonders how you can be free to be politically critical and uncompromising as an artist, in a Western arts tradition, if you receive a major cash prize from a multinational. In his case by winning the Heineken Prize for Art. Do you accept the prize? And, if so, what do you do with the money? Indirectly he reflects on the historical position of the white male in both the arts and the capitalist system.


GIOVANNI GIARETTA, Words, words, words are decorative sounds, 2020, 8’

This video investigates the complex relationship between language and cultural identity in our contemporary times. The starting point is the artist’s recollection of learning English: words, memories and images merge with artificial landscapes, and flow in vague yet coherent sequences that feel as natural and unsettling as a dream.