Four months after the first part of the Rotterdam film festival 2021, it is time for the second one. Rotterdam still looks very much like my living room, even though there are some physical screenings for locals. A running theme of the first films I’ve seen deals with social media and its perils. It is not necessarily my favourite subject. Did you know that images in social media are exaggerated or even faked? And did you know that even though influencers have thousands of followers, they may still not be happy? You did know that? But did you know that you can make films about it and make all these facts seem like revelating news? Are you intrigued?
When so many films tackle similar topics during the same period, it’s interesting to see which perspective is applied. More often than not, the feeling is that filmmakers are quite condescending towards the phenomenon and that it is depicted as a lower form of expression than…well, let’s say the film you are actually watching right now. The first one I saw was Fucking With Nobody (2020) by Hannaleena Hauru. Hanna loses a film job she was hoping for to a guy called Kristian. That makes her team up with her cultural friends to make an ironic parody romance on Instagram between herself and a young gay actor named Ekku. Their respective partners are in on the charade.
The fake relationship starts out as a funny art project, but soon it spins out of control. In 2018, the director made a film called Metatitanic, which would be an apt title for this film as well. Hanna plays against real boyfriend Lasse Poser, who also portrays her boyfriend in the film. That is just the beginning of all the meta-layers presented in the film. Hanna and her friends seem to think that the Insta project will challenge preconceived notions of “heteronormative power structures”.
The line between reality and fiction is constantly blurred. Unfortunately, the film itself is blurry as well. The director doesn’t have the necessary grip on the material, leaving the outcome rather messy and convoluted rather than complex. The film is fairly entertaining, but it’s quickly evident that the filmmakers got lost in the meta labyrinth and went astray. It’s still a director I will check out in the future. The film was presented in the Harbour section.
Ayako Tachibana Wants to Go Viral, by Amane Satô, on the other hand, screened in the Cinema Regained section. The titular character and Keisuke form a couple that is very popular on YouTube. We see them making their “cute” videos with numerous retakes. Ayako seems to be doing most of the work. Meanwhile, Keisuke is cheating on her, and he even watches their sweet videos while having sex with another girl. There are, however, other powers at play. So yet another film about the fake world of social media but with several twists. First of all, it’s a Pinku eiga. A genre that was most successful in the sixties and seventies, containing plentiful sex scenes while discussing social issues.
If that’s not enough, there is also a horror element to the film. I’m not going into details on that part. The film is only 72 minutes long and is obviously made on a low budget, as the genre rules dictate. Still, the manner in which it combines these elements elevates it above a standard social media commentary. Initially, it feels like that’s where the film is heading. The seams are showing, and it’s not a perfect film, but it manages to thrill, titillate and comment on current mores in equal measures.
That’s the end of the first report. Be sure to like, follow and subscribe to whatever I’m doing. It might be Twitter, Insta but especially MikMok.The newest coolest thing for us that look down on people who use TikTok and feel that the invites to Clubhouse went out to the masses too soon. Be sure to sign up before it’s deemed obsolete by influencers.