Former Director of BFI London Film Festival and Interim CEO at Sheffield DocFest Joins Ahead of 2024 Edition
International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has appointed Clare Stewart to the post of Managing Director, taking over from outgoing Managing Director Marjan van der Haar. Most recently Interim CEO at Sheffield DocFest, Clare steered the 2022 edition of that festival and worked with the Board of Trustees to recruit its new leadership. Clare commences in the role at IFFR on 21 June.
Korrie Louwes, Chairperson of the Supervisory Board, said: “Clare has an unparalleled breadth of experience in strategically directing, and truly championing festivals – with a track record including some of the foremost celebrations of cinema in the world. In previous roles Clare has channelled her unique combination of creative understanding and business acumen to growing audiences, accelerating commercial success, and raising the profile of those events – as well as steering them through change. It’s a great coup to have her join the IFFR team and bring her multifaceted and insightful leadership to our organisation.”
Clare Stewart, newly Managing Director at IFFR, added: “IFFR is a world-leading institution that creates meaningful, global impact for independent film and filmmakers, and it is also dear to my heart as the first international film festival I attended 25 years ago. It shaped my understanding of the interdependencies between cultural activity and industry development, and the importance of engaging a dedicated local audience while positioning a festival as vital for the international, independent film sector. Rotterdam is a city renowned for innovation, experimentation and discovery – characteristics that IFFR already champions through its artistic and industry programmes. This emphasis on bold, new ideas provides a strong cultural base to collaborate with Festival Director, Vanja Kaludjercic on her inspiring vision for building a festival that is both agenda-setting and responsive to change. I am excited to work with the talented IFFR team, the Supervisory Board and IFFR’s committed partners and stakeholders to forge a bright future for one of the Netherlands’ true cultural assets.”
Vanja Kaludjercic, Festival Director at IFFR, said: “I am excited to be welcoming Clare to the IFFR team, and to Rotterdam as she makes this incredible city her new home. She brings a deep understanding of the artistic and commercial sides of a festival from her formidable career to date, which is perfectly suited to the dual leadership dynamic we have between our two roles. Her passion for IFFR is undeniable, and the team and I look forward to working together with her on the upcoming 2024 edition and beyond!”
IFFR has a dual leadership structure where the pairing of the Managing Director and the Festival Director oversee the commercial and creative elements of the organisation respectively, but working closely in partnership. Clare previously consulted with the IFFR Board of Directors in 2021 in its first phase of re-evaluation prior to her joining DocFest, with a focus on the IFFR programme structure and content strategy.
Clare is an innovative and inspirational creative and business leader with more than 25 years of experience in the creative industries, 18 years at a leadership level.
Most recently, Clare was Interim CEO at Sheffield DocFest, the UK’s leading documentary festival and one of the world’s most influential markets for documentary projects, where she collaborated with Asif Kapadia as Guest Curator. She has worked variously as a strategic, creative and development consultant with a range of clients for the last five years.
As Director of BFI London Film Festival and BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA+ Film Festival (2012-17), Clare increased audiences, elevated the international position of the festivals, and boosted the profile of British and international films and filmmakers. As a passionate supporter of emerging talent, she also oversaw the introduction of new labs, mentorship schemes and the filmmaker bursary. While running BFI Festivals, she promoted action on diversity and inclusion, with highlights including the Gender in Media and Black Star symposiums (Geena Davis and David Oyelowo keynotes respectively), the Flare LGBTQIA+ Mentorship and the Accessibility think-tank.
Clare was previously Festival Director, Sydney Film Festival (2006-2011), the inaugural Head of Film Programmes at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (2002-2006), Events Manager at the Australian Film Institute (1996-2001) and Programmer/Manager of the Melbourne Cinematheque (1995-2002).
Since 2020, Clare is an elected member of the BAFTA Film Committee, where she has participated on the Learning, Inclusion and Talent Committee, and chaired the film selection for the BAFTA Breakthrough programme. Clare has served on the World Economic Forum’s Global Advisory Council for the Creative Economies (2014-2016), on competition juries at Sundance, Mumbai, Rio, Dubai, Hong Kong and Macau film festivals and the BAFTA Outstanding British Debut jury.
She is a previous recipient of the Queen's Trust Award for Young Australians and a Women and Hollywood Trailblazer Award in 2017 for her work promoting diversity and gender parity in the film industry.
In 2023, IFFR recorded 283,506 visits (incl. 8,871 online visits) and more than 2,500 attending film professionals; this makes IFFR one of the largest audience and industry-driven film festivals in the world. The festival's official selection generally includes more than 400 feature, mid-length, and short films from over 90 countries and also offers a high-quality line-up of exhibitions, performances, masterclasses and talks. The 53rd edition of IFFR will take place from 25 January to 4 February 2024.