Above us, About us: Two new documentaries from Rotterdam

IFFR:This year‘s film festival in Rotterdam unveiled several documentaries and shorts, amongst them Above Us Only Sky – a calming exercise in intellectual and sensual stimulation – and Pelourinho: They Don't Really Care About Us, which proved to be a rough, angry gem of a picture.
Neil Young
Neil Young
Young is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: February 15, 2019

While its feature-length fictions can be of bewilderingly variable quality, January’s International Film Festival Rotterdam regularly unveils several documentaries and shorts (especially towards the experimental end of the spectrum) which prove to be among the year’s best come Christmas. The 48th edition of the event, held in the Dutch port city from January 23 to February 3, once again yielded a rich haul of international titles whose apparently brief running-times concealed rich and complex content.

Himself a born and bred Rotterdammer, 49-year-old visual artist Arthur Kleinjan was represented by the 28-minute Above Us Only Sky, a Dutch-Czech co-production which exists in conventional filmic form and also as a three-channel video installation. His screenplay’s starting point is the 2010 eruption of Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull, whose ash-cloud resulted – as Kleinjan’s unidentified narrator notes – in the most serious disruption of European air travel since World War II.

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Recalling the impact of this geological phenomenon on his own travel-schedules – he ended up having to take a train from Brussels to Prague – the narrator goes on to accumulate an episodic, low key, cumulatively enthralling tale that encompasses such diverse figures as …

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