By Jonte van Essen
From 21 january until 1 february 2015, the International Film Festival Rotterdam took place in its namesake city. One of the largest public film events in the world, IFFR offers a platform for independent filmmaking from around the globe. In its 44th edition the festival has spread to locations all over Rotterdam and showed over 500 short and feature films.
Scattered throughout the city, the festival’s venues varied widely in size and shape. The Pathé-theatre in the centre of town boasted huge screens and large audiences, while smaller cinemas created a more intimate setting. Lantarenvenster for instance, an arthouse- cinema in one of the city’s harbours, offered a quiet retreat form the busier locations in the city centre. The heart of the festival was conference centre ‘de Doelen’. In the comfortable restaurant, visitors could be found reading the festival’s catalogue and discussing which films to go to. Not only during the weekend, but through the whole week the festival was visited by a large and international audience.
The number of films on offer made it difficult to decide on what to attend. From a 70’s coming-of-age story of a speedwalking Danish teenager to a documentary on education’s role in the middle-eastern conflict, the net could not have been cast wider in the selection of this year’s catalogue. In selecting the films on offer, attention was paid to creating variety in the originating countries.
A selection of the films was shown at ‘IFFR:Live’-events. During these events, films were premiered simultaneously in cinemas across Europe and on the internet and attended by directors and film crews. The use of social media allowed the audience to interact and a sense of community was created by communication between the international venues. Concepts like IFFR:Live illustrated the international allure of the festival. The audience was further involved by having the opportunity to vote during the screenings. With almost 5.000 votes, the audience selected ‘The Dark Horse’ by young filmmaker New-Zealand James Napier Robertson as its favorite.
IFFR’s organization hosted a well-running festival with an impressive range of films and locations. It succeeded in its ambition to create a large festival with an international ambiance. Good use was made of the city’s range of venues and although the selection of films could at times be overwhelming, visitors were guided well towards a choice of their interest.
The 45th Edition will take place from Jan 25th to Feb. 7th 2016