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by Darren Hughes
The 47th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam presented 531 films of various lengths, 140 of which were world premieres, and welcomed more than 2,400 industry professionals. To tick off each special event, master class, conference, installation, curated program, party, award winner and grand announcement would consume this entire report. (The IFFR wrap-up press release clocks in at 1,400 words.) Needless to say, IFFR benefits from and suffers for its size, in mostly predictable ways. There are few places other than Rotterdam in January where one might watch Phantom Thread scored live by an orchestra, spend a night in a hotel-like installation by Apitchatpong Weerasethakul, catch up with Best Picture Oscar nominees, experience multi-projector performances, debate the future of distribution, listen to Paul Schrader tell stories about Nicolas Cage and take a chance on new work by hundreds of filmmakers, the majority of whom scrape together small budgets through independent means. IFFR presents a whirlwind of options, held in a variety of quality venues, all within reasonable walking distance, and my experience of it was free of avoidable glitches, which is no small feat.
Ambition - IFFR - Industry - Transition - Rotterdam
In its schizophrenic ambition, IFFR is symptomatic of an industry still (perpetually?) in transition. Rotterdam has long supported new filmmakers, both by devoting a significant portion of its lineup to the Bright Futures program (some 180 films this year) and through its funding and development initiatives, including CineMart, the Hubert Bals Fund, BoostNL and Rotterdam Lab. At this year’s fest, they also unveiled IFFR Unleashed, adding one more digital distribution platform to an increasingly crowded marketplace. Whether IFFR Unleashed pays off for the festival or for the artists and distributors with whom they share the proceeds remains to be seen, but the experiment makes more sense in Rotterdam than it would at most...
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