On Tuesday 30 January, International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) officially launches its streaming service: IFFR Unleashed. The platform aims to support independent filmmakers and connect them with online audiences year-round. The service has been live on its brand new standalone platform – at IFFRUnleashed.com – since the start of this year’s festival edition on24 January.
On Monday 29 January, IFFR presented the new platform in a very well attended press conference and meet & greet event for the press and rights holders in the presence of IFFR festival director Bero Beyer, managing director Janneke Staarink, project manager Ivo Bakhuys and digital content managerMelissa van der Schoor.
Filmmaker David Verbeek, whose film Full Contact is available on IFFR Unleashed, was also present. He stressed the urgent need for new platforms like these because they give filmmakers back control over how their films are released. Lidia Damatto Moreira, sales agent at FiGa Films, joined the conversation and underlined how this initiative supports sales agencies and distribution companies that work outside of the mainstream. The atmosphere was lively and optimistic. Many attendees seemed to agree that we are currently at a crossroads in history with regards to independent film distribution.
From right to left: managing director Janneke Staarink, filmmaker David Verbeek, sales agent Lidia Damatto Moreira, content manager Melissa van der Schoor and project manager Ivo Bakhuys at the IFFR Unleashed press conference.
IFFR is also using this year’s festival along with key domestic marketing and media partnerships to highlight and stir up buzz for IFFR Unleashed. Festival goers may have noticed de Doelen and other festival venues rebranded to showcase the look and feel of IFFR Unleashed over the coming days, and IFFR has also inked ambitious partnerships for promoting the platform with the NS Dutch National Rail System as well as the leading Dutch daily newspaper de Volkskrant.
In addition, the IFFR PRO team will also be holding closed-door meetings with sales agents, rights holders and filmmakers throughout the festival to discuss possible synergies with the new platform.
The platform will feature festival favorites from previous IFFR line-ups and other hand-picked auteur highlights, with its editorial line defined as: Arthouse wonders, unknown pleasures and audience favourites. Not your everyday films, every day.
IFFR Unleashed offers a competitive pricing structure and launches with titles such as Nebraska by Alexander Payne, Alba by Ana Cristina Barragán, Winter Sleep by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Only Lovers Left Alive by Jim Jarmusch, Home by Fien Troch, Goodnight Mommy by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Haruko’s Paranormal Laboratory by Lisa Takeba, Porto by Gabe Klinger, Los hongos by Oscar Ruiz Navia, Wuthering Heights by Andrea Arnold and many others already available for viewers, according to geographical availability. The offering kick starts with a critical mass of films that will be further enriched with new titles on a monthly basis.
Through the end of this year’s festival, IFFR Unleashed will offer a special early-adopter subscription rate of €60 per year in the Benelux territories. From then on, subscriptions will be priced at €90 per year. Separate films cost €5 per view. Outside of the Benelux, IFFR Unleashed initially launches with a transactional pay-per-view model, with films priced at €4 in EU territories and $4 (USD) outside of Europe. The streaming service is available worldwide with the exception of the United States.
IFFR Unleashed was previously soft-launched, with IFFR testing the waters and gathering experience over several years in the build up to this year’s launch of its own independent platform. The project mobilises the festival’s 47 years of experience in film curation and programming, support of independent filmmakers, as well as IFFR’s exclusive first access to leading arthouse films and related content.
Along with feature films, there will also be access to masterclasses, Q&As, interviews with filmmakers and other exclusive film-related extras.Festival director Bero Beyer commented: “There is a clearly defined core target group for IFFR Unleashed. We host them every year here in Rotterdam, and I have no doubt that their hunger for year-round access to the kind of quirky, unexpected, boundary pushing, brilliant content showcased on this platform is strong and very real. Today our mission as a festival goes beyond presenting a premiere. We need to continue extending it to helping filmmakers find their audience outside the festival circuit.”
IFFR Unleashed also aims to provide an alternative to rights holders, as well as directors handling their own distribution, by offering conditions that are more advantageous than those of other major streaming platforms. Filmmakers receive a 50 percent revenue share, and IFFR has pledged to reinvest the other 50 percent back into the platform itself.
IFFR managing director Janneke Staarink adds: “IFFR Unleashed is all about working together with directors and rights holders to find tailor-made solutions to fit their need and their film’s particular situation. We’re working with films that IFFR has specifically chosen and loves, which creates a more collaborative relationship than the typical VOD distribution deal. This includes deciding together where a film should be available on a territory-by-territory basis.”
Staarink also cites greater flexibility with technical requirements as another advantage IFFR Unleashed offers over larger corporate competitors: “It's all about bridging the gap between the filmmaker and the complex world of digital distribution – reducing the technical, practical and financial obstacles while maximising possibilities and using the competitive advantage we have – we are flexible, nimble and willing to seek out more customised solutions and arrangements.”
As we move among festival and industry circuits, IFFR is continuously pursuing its connections with filmmakers, producers and other content creators to enrich IFFR Unleashed and discuss potential collaborations.
IFFR has been involved in distribution in the Netherlands for many years, habitually releasing Hubert Bals Fund-supported films as well as Hivos Tiger Award Winners. This already started when IFFR distributed DVDs under the title 10 to Watch. Over the past decades the festival constantly tested and developed many different forms of distribution, always with the same goal in mind: to make sure quality films are seen by as many people as possible. IFFR Unleashed expands on this mission, and endows it with the independence, global scope and digital focus that are essential in the evolving landscape of festivals and distribution.