Rotterdam festival picks “Zalava”, “Hit the Road” for first films competition

The 51st edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam will screen the acclaimed Iranian dramas “Zalava” and “Hit the Road” in the first films competition.

29 other filmmakers from across the world will be competing with their directorial debuts in this section of the festival, which will take place from January 26 to February 6, 2022, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the organizers have announced.

The story of “Zalava” directed by Arsalan Amiri is set in 1978 in a small village called “Zalava”, where the villagers claim that a demon is among them.

A young sergeant who investigates the claim crosses paths with an exorcist attempting to evict the demon from the village. He arrests the exorcist on a charge of fraud, but suddenly finds himself stuck in a cursed house with his lover. The villagers, who believe they are both possessed by the demon, decide to kill them.

The film won the grand prize at the 36th Venice International Film Critics’ Week. Amiri has also won the award for best director for the movie at the 8th Duhok International Film Festival in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.

“Hit the Road” by Panah Panahi has previously won the best film award at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival in Argentina and the special jury prize at the Red Sea International Film Festival in Saudi Arabia.

It is about a chaotic, tender family, which is on a road trip across a rugged landscape, but to where? In the back seat, Dad has a broken leg, but is it really broken? Mom tries to laugh when she’s not holding back tears. The kids keep exploding into choreographed car karaoke. All of them are fussing over the sick dog and getting on each other’s nerves. Only the mysterious older brother is quiet.