Programme manager Chris Schouten (photo by Ilona van Genderen Stort) has a long history at the festival. As a film lover born in Rotterdam, International Film Festival Rotterdam appealed greatly to her. During her student days she worked as an IFFR volunteer and she wrote her thesis on Dutch film culture and the Netherlands Film Fund.
How did you become a festival employee?
"My first festival was the 2003 edition. There was a vacancy at the programme department. This position was only for a couple of months and every year I was hoping I could come back. Luckily they kept calling me back. So, the next festival will be my 13th."
And now you’re the manager, what does your work entail?
"It's up to me to keep the overview on everything that happens involving the programme. For the last few years I've been part of the management team (or 'head of departments meeting' as it is called nowadays). During the year this means I represent the programme committee towards the management and the other way around. Apart from that my main task is to get all the selected films actually screened at our festival."
What is the status now?
"This is the most hectic period of the year. We have to make sure that there is a final selection and all film copies are available on time. Then we have to play the biggest Sudoku in the world: the actual programming. In short this means sorting out which movie will be screened at which venue.
What makes the 2016 edition special?
"We have a new director so that’s exciting. Bero has tried to simplify our extensive selection (240 feature films and over 200 short films) by introducing four sections. A colleague of mine compared it to four houses. They all have different rooms (for instance subprogrammes, retrospectives) but in the end it’s one family living there. I am curious how this will be picked up by both audience and industry. "
Do the separate sections indeed have their own house/venue?
"No that's not possible, simply because the venues are too diverse. Most films at the festival are being screened three or four times, and to serve the public as best as we can we want to screen them on different screen sizes. Also, people like to switch venues while visiting the festival, it gives the special festival feeling."
What are you looking forward to at the festival?
"I very much like the whole festival atmosphere taking over the city. And I like Asian and British movies. Unfortunately I most likely don't get a chance to watch any films. Instead I have to make sure things run smoothly during the festival."