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History's Future: information from the future


- Dutch artist Fiona Tan is participating in this year’s IFFR with a complex film that revisits issues close to her heart: identity, memory and time

History's Future: information from the future

Fiona Tan is competing at this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam with History’s Future [+see also:
film focus
interview: Fiona Tan
film profile
, a complex feature film that revisits issues close to her heart: identity, memory and time.

This film is worth seeing if only for the ten minutes that feature Denis Lavant (yes, the same one you saw in Holy Motors). It’s not the first time the French actor has played the part of an outcast: here he supports the main protagonist, Mark O'Halloran, who’s going through an identity crisis following an accident and struggling with a long and painful rehabilitation. The trauma causes amnesia, with MP (the name of the protagonist, Missing Person) choosing to use this to his advantage to start a new life, new lives.

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Dutch artist Fiona Tan, an experienced videomaker, which is clear to see, skilfully uses editing to deconstruct a reality which is never linear, consistently confusing, and impossible to interpret: “are we experiencing the end of an era?” the director asks us and herself. 

The ideal terrain for exploration is a Europe that’s crumbling, a being as fragile and iridescent as the protagonist MP, who passes through a Greece in crisis, the precarious safety of Central Europe and a listless Ireland on a pilgrimage across a continent that has never had such an intangible identity. 

The film is well written, and the dialogue convincing as are the actors’ performances: the only flaw is perhaps the way it tries to overdo it, sometimes the film is overloaded and the editing too jittery, and whilst this clearly represents the film’s deviation from the classic present – past – future schema, it stops it from flowing, thus also rejecting the hypothesis of time as a cycle: for Fiona Tan, the future might as well not exist. 

The use of some images that do not pertain to the story works well, such as the VHS frames of an old ship being tossed around by a storm, whilst the images of the wreckage of the Costa Concordia are a useless frill.

History's Future is nothing particularly special and is awkward at times, but it does move along at the right rhythm, paradoxically sowing the seeds for a prosperous future. A little homemade surprise of this year’s Rotterdam Film Festival, the film was produced by Family Affair Films (the Netherlands), co-produced by Rohfilm (Germany), Vico Films (Ireland) and Antithesis Film (the Netherlands), and is being sold internationally by Mongrel International (Canada).

(Translated from Italian)

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