Without a doubt, no film critic has been as important to International Film Festival Rotterdam as Peter van Bueren. The Volkskrant journalist who passed away in his hometown Amsterdam last week at the age of 78, was – and is likely to remain – the only recipient of a Tiger Lifetime Achievement Award.
When Van Bueren made the switch from Catholic newspaper De Tijd to the prominent de Volkskrant in 1973, Huub Bals was initially concerned that the critical young film journalist would break his budding festival – Film International. The two men would regularly clash in the following years, but their relationship developed more constructively: Van Bueren was the one who arranged that the festival supplement came to his newspaper in the 1980s. This was the start of a still existing relationship between de Volkskrant and IFFR, which, among other things, resulted in de Volkskrantdag.
The enthusing articles with which Van Bueren introduced new directors and unknown film cultures to a large audience contributed in no small measure to the growing appreciation for IFFR in the Netherlands, also after Bals' sudden death in 1988.
He not only wrote about 'Rotterdam', but also did public interviews, took part in panels, was omnipresent, and gave subsequent festival directors advice – solicited and unsolicited.
Face to face with celebrities and important people, Van Bueren could be a fearless provocateur. For many young directors from all over the world, on the other hand, an approving “not bad ...” on his part confirmed that they were on the right track. He also followed IFFR's activities closely throughout the year. In the wake of Simon Field (festival director from 1996 to 2005), for example, he moved to the newly founded Busan festival in the late 1990s. Together they embraced the new Korean cinema. For Van Bueren, the festival of Busan (then Pusan) became a kind of second homeland, where his direct style, his sharp cinephile judgment and his alcohol tolerance were appreciated.
Peter van Bueren received his special Tiger Award in 2002 at the end of his active career as a film journalist for de Volkskrant. As a mentor and advisor, he remained active in the world where he felt at home: that of film criticism and festivals. 2016, when he was already sick, was the last year he came to his beloved ‘Rotterdam’: as a member of the Tiger Award jury.