The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), arguably the biggest film event for alternative international cinema, kicks off its 51st edition on Wednesday with the world premiere of Amanda Kramer Please Baby Please.
Rotterdam was forced to go online-only again this year after the Netherlands shut down in December amid an increase in COVID-19 infections caused by omicrons.
Festival director Vanja Kaludjercic noted that the closures had happened “practically at the finish line” but even before the lockdown, previous restrictions, including a 5pm curfew, for cinemas , will make the live festival a challenge.
“Can you imagine having a huge film festival, a cinema celebration with almost 300 films, all the world premieres, and 2pm your prime time?” Kaludjercic narrated The Hollywood Reporter.
However, the show still has to go on and Kaludjercic notes that following the experience of the completely virtual event last year, “there has been a great deal of interest and support from industry and the international press, as well as from filmmakers to make this work”.
Filmmakers such as Thai auteur and Rotterdam Film Festival veteran Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose Your happiness won the IFFR in 2003 and who has relied on help from Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals foundation, named after the IFFR founder, to fund his films since then, including the winner. won the Palme d’Or in 2010 Uncle Boonmee who can recall his past lifeand his latest, star Tilda Swinton Memoria.
Inke Van Loocke, director of Rotterdam’s industrial division, CineMart, notes that the IFFR’s role in supporting and promoting independent cinema, especially from “countries with lower production capacity, in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and Eastern Europe,” making the festival essential after a two-year pandemic hiatus.
CineMart’s 2022 selection of projects in development to seek support includes Normally beautifula new project by Hong Kong director Flora Lau, whose feature film debut Bend shortlisted for the first prize of Cannes in 2013; Love to try from Koji Fukada, 2016 Jury Most Important Prize winner with Harmonium; and Sorella di Clausurathe new film from Serbian director Ivana Mladenovic, whose Ivana The Terrible (2019), was the winner of the Jury Prize at Locarno.
“We make sure these projects have meetings with sales agents and make sure they show up with international distributors, but that’s really the launchpad and testing ground,” says Loocke. new job experience”. “We’re usually there when people start funding and filming, and we stay in touch to make sure their finished movies are seen by our programmers.”
While Loocke saw a silver lining in the COVID-19 lockdowns enforced last year – “we were surprised at how well many manufacturers performed as they had more time to develop [and] We see an increase in financing flows from VOD platforms, especially for projects from Asia. ” She noted that the challenge for indie filmmakers is “to get through this wave of VOD and grow streaming while remaining independent.”
And for that, Kaludjercic notes, IFFR can be essential.
“There’s the distribution part, getting the audience, the press, and the industry to create a conversation and attention around a movie to start and get the movie’s attention,” she said. “The whole other part is finance and how we can create opportunities for filmmakers to meet [future] potential partners. ”
IFFR 2022 runs through February 6.