International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has big ambitions in the areas of innovation and distribution. The festival has always been a pioneer: IFFR’s managing director Janneke Staarink lifts the lid on the latest plans.
“IFFR Unleashed is IFFR’s online distribution brand, and we have attracted the biggest international names in this area – such as iTunes, Google Play and NEP Worldwide – to affiliate with us on this. Through this platform, IFFR offers digital distribution to films that have premiered at the festival. The makers can then offer their work online through Video On Demand (VOD). This is a new distribution system that is unique in the world, giving independent filmmakers the opportunity to appear on trusted VOD-platforms under the IFFR banner. Previously, these makers were dependent on large players who were simply out of their reach. The new service has been up and running since December 2015, offering film-lovers titles for purchase or rent from €3.99 from our own store at www.iTunes.com/IFFR. IFFR entered into a sponsorship deal with NEP in Hilversum to make the films VOD-ready. The filmmakers get a contract for two years and IFFR supports them in marketing their work. Most of the income then flows back directly to the filmmakers, meaning the makers profit most: from reaching larger audiences and having a revenue model. If the filmmaker is not able to recoup the cost within two years, NEP writes it off. Everything is done to ensure the lowest possible threshold for filmmakers to take part. Our aim is to position ourselves as the first-choice platform and show that we support our filmmakers in presenting their work to the biggest possible audience. Something IFFR is known for around the world.”
"We are looking forward to the possibilities this will open up for the further development of Rotterdam"
“Another form of distribution we offer is IFFR Live – during the festival, we screen five titles simultaneously in different cinemas in Europe via a live stream. This project, which we will be running for the third time next year, enables us to find ways of spreading the festival hype to other global cities. Visually, visitors are in an IFFR setting, taking part in the festival remotely and getting involved in what is happening in Rotterdam at that moment. After the film, the audiences can watch a Q&A live and ask questions through Twitter. Forty-six cinemas in seventeen countries are now involved, which is a huge publicity boost for Rotterdam. IFFR is currently looking at the options for involving cities outside of Europe, such as New York, in the next edition. Curacao is already participating. Our ambition is to launch festival moments in other parts of the world throughout the year.”
“A few years ago, the Municipality of Rotterdam started laying a super-fast glass-fibre cable network in the city: the Glass-fibre Maas [Dutch: Glazen Maas]. This network joins up all the partners IFFR cooperates with, including RTV Rijnmond, de Doelen, the Rotterdamse Schouwburg and LantarenVenster. Two years ago, IFFR was the first user to sign up and was heavily involved, along with the other organisations, in testing the Glass-fibre Maas – partly by sending big film files and live TV across the network. Following a request from IFFR, the Municipality also expanded the number of connected locations. As far as IFFR is concerned, the next step will be to realise a connection between Rotterdam and the Mediapark in Hilversum; this would allow Rotterdam to host live television programmes, which to date has not been possible for technical reasons. Joining up the Glass-fibre Maas and Hilversum would open up endless possibilities. Supporting IFFR’s move, Ahoy, de Doelen, RTV Rijnmond and various other bodies have drafted a Letter of Commitment promising to deliver content that can be sent over the Glass-fibre Maas. The aim is for all (television) producers to soon be able to plug in to the Glass-fibre Maas from different locations in the city and send programmes at super-fast speed to the broadcast facilities in Hilversum for editing and broadcast. This will mean that Rotterdam will suddenly be one step ahead of all other cities in the Netherlands. We are not there yet, but we are looking forward to the possibilities this will open up for the further development of Rotterdam.”
“IFFR, de Kunsthal and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen have joined forces to strengthen the international, cultural cachet of Rotterdam year-round. These museums experience dips in visitor figures during the summer – not so much due to a paucity of attractions in the city, but more owing to the lack of exhibitions that exert a big international pull and bring in large numbers of visitors, both from the Netherlands and abroad. Together – at first – with these three large Rotterdam arts institutions, we are attempting to break out of this chicken-or-egg dilemma by offering a joint programme. The Rotterdam Xpanded summer programme has how been launched and can be seen at Rotterdamxpanded.com."