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Vanja Kaludjercic and Marten Rabarts at IFFR 2020

50th International Film Festival Rotterdam

27 January – 7 February 2021

Rotterdam, 8 July 2020

IFFR announces new programme structure and team for 50th edition

Introducing section Harbour, expanded competitions, and additions to programme team

As the 50th edition of International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) draws closer, newly appointed festival director Vanja Kaludjercic announces several additions to the team and changes in the programme structure. The festival’s flagship Tiger Competition and the Big Screen Competition will be expanded.

Festival director Vanja Kaludjercic: “This programme restructure ensures IFFR is ready for the future: our anniversary 50th edition and beyond. With it, we want to emphasise the position of Rotterdam as an international festival with a clear mission and vision, curious about and open to what cinema nowadays can be, but averse to preconceived ideas of what it should be. I’m thrilled to have such an expert group of programmers in our midst to further strengthen IFFR’s reputation as a safe haven – a ‘Harbour’ – for diverse cinema.”

She adds: “We are currently adapting to the consequences of the current health crisis for the 50th edition. But we are confident we will be able to organise a real and really festive event, a celebration that also expands on IFFR’s mission to explore new, digital and online possibilities in cinema.” 

Programming team

IFFR’s team has been strengthened with the expertise of several new programmers. Feature films will be selected under the supervision of an artistic committee comprising senior programmers Bianca Taal and Gerwin Tamsma, and, new to the team, Giona Nazzaro.

Nazzaro: “I’m excited to join IFFR as a member of the artistic committee. I hope my experience as general delegate of Venice Critics’ Week and as programmer for Visions du Réel is a valuable addition to the team. IFFR is a festival with a true love for cinema and I look forward to contributing to this reputation.”

Peter van Hoof continues as head of an editorial team responsible for the Short & Mid-length programme. Edwin Carels will curate Art Directions, showcasing the ways in which cinema sprawls into the other arts. Olaf Möller will be lead programmer for an enlarged, and re-imagined Cinema Regained section, showing IFFR's dedication to living film history and restorations. 

Ronny Theeuwes remains programmer for the Talks & Masterclasses. Bregje Benecke will focus on new immersive art forms, including VR, as part of Art Directions. 

The programmers, each with their own territory and specialty, will work together with a member of the artistic committee. Evgeny Gusyatinskiy will be the programmer for Russia, Eastern Europe, Greece and Israel. Julian Ross will cover Japan, South Korea and South-East Asian countries.

Next to them, new programmers are welcomed to the team.

  • Stefan Borsos (Indian subcontinent)
  • Michelle Carey (USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia and English-speaking Canada)
  • Shelly Kraicer (Chinese-speaking territories)
  • Janneke Langelaan (Netherlands and Flanders)
  • Mercedes Martínez-Abarca (Spain and Portugal, Latin America, Caribbean region)
  • Olivier Pierre (French-speaking countries, excluding Africa)
  • Delly Shirazi (Middle East and North Africa)
  • Annina Wettstein (German-speaking territories and Scandinavia)

Robert Gray, Jolinde den Haas, Kim Haery, Aihara Hiromi, Stefan Ivančić, Ralph McKay and Roberto Turigliatto will continue as advisors to the festival. Lyse Ishimwe Nsengiyumva joins the festival as advisor for films from Sub-Saharan Africa.

IFFR’s short film programmers are Anna Germanidi, Erwin van ‘t Hart, Marta Jurkiewicz, Helena Kritis, Koen de Rooij, Julian Ross and Theus Zwakhals. Mid-length programmers are Maaike Gouwenberg, Edwin Carels and Lyse Ishimwe Nsengiyumva.

Competitions and new section Harbour

The Tiger Competition will be brought further to the fore with an increased number of films to create an even richer mosaic of diverse voices. As previously, it presents first, second or third feature-length films premiering in Rotterdam. Bright Future will remain IFFR’s section for emerging film talent but will no longer comprise the Bright Future Competition – making the Tiger Competition IFFR’s one-and-only competitive platform for emerging talent. A jury will bestow three prizes, one more than in previous years: next to the main Tiger Award, they will hand out two Jury Awards for an exceptional artistic achievement of their choice. 

The Big Screen Competition will likewise be expanded. As a platform to launch arthouse films with a wider international potential for theatrical distribution, this will strengthen the festival’s collaboration with distributors and sales agents. The VPRO Big Screen Award, handed out to the winner of this competition, is the result of years of partnership between IFFR, VPRO and NPO. The Ammodo Tiger Short Competition will remain, with no changes in the setup, as IFFR’s competition for short films awarding three equal prizes.

Harbour is IFFR’s newest section, and now its largest programme. This programme reflects the multidimensional nature of Rotterdam and its festival as a safe haven. It is the main base for the diverse and quality films that the festival wants to show to the world. 

Limelight will remain IFFR’s section for highlights of the year in arthouse, and a preview for theatrical releases of the year. What was previously called Regained, will be renamed and enlarged to Cinema Regained, a showcase reflecting on the living history of cinema. IFFR will also continue to present an extensive and unique series of (non-competitive) short and mid-length films.

Art Directions, previously the umbrella for IFFR’s expanded works, now becomes one curated programme, presenting exhibitions, installations, performances as well as contemporary immersive art forms such as VR. 

IFFR will also present thematic programmes and retrospectives, highlighting and developing contemporary themes and topics, and celebrating important bodies of work. 

As before, Talks & Masterclasses will invite and present filmmakers, artists, experts and thinkers to share their ideas and vision with IFFR’s audiences. 

No longer are programmes divided over four overarching sections, but they are presented alongside each other. 

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