Welcome to IFFR, welcome to Rotterdam

The 42nd edition of International Film Festival Rotterdam concludes with the Volkskrant Day (the Volkskrant is a national, daily newspaper) after twelve intense days of cinema. In what has become a tradition, a special selection of five festival highlights will provide the spectacular final chorus for the 'celebratory mass of alternative cinema' as IFFR is often affectionately referred to.

Maestro Bernardo Bertolucci, who made his debut as a film director half a century ago, was without a shadow of a doubt the most famous guest at IFFR 2013. His film Io e te (You and Me) was his first in ten years, but Bertolucci acknowledged that he sees a great future ahead of him. This makes him perfect for Rotterdam that has always offered a platform for up-and-coming directors full of talent and ambition which constitute the foundations for the Hivos Tiger Awards Competition and the Bright Future programme. Of old, the latters' counterparts are career overviews for established names. This year, there were retrospectives for Ukrainian Kira Muratov a and German Dominik Graf whose work for television provided a great segue to the Signals: Changing Channels programme, that was based on the idea that experiments and innovation are currently more likely to be found on television and the internet than in the cinema. Reason enough to pay attention to the phenomenon in Rotterdam.

Other Signals programmes included Sound Stages (the festival as a jukebox), Inside Iran (contemporary Iranian cinema and video art) and the annual Regained (a selection from cinema's collective memory). Alongside all the moving images, the festival also centred on talking. Informally, at the various get-togethers as well as during the many sessions which makers attended to personally provide information on their films.

The festival's biggest eye catcher was undoubtedly the Hivos Tiger Awards Competition. The prizes aren't so much for the films, as for their makers. Hivos Tiger Award winners not only receive a trophy and €15,000, they can also count on international recognition. This year, 16 young directors' first or second films were shortlisted. On Friday evening, the three identical awards were presented to Slovakian director Mira Fornay for My Dog Killer, Austrian director Daniel Hoesl for Soldate Jeannette and Iranian director Mohammad Shirvani for Fat Shaker. One member of the jury was unfortunately unable to attend the awards ceremony. Renowned artist Ai Weiwei did not receive permission to travel abroad from the Chinese authorities.

Naturally, the Tiger will be back again next year. Preparations for the new, sparkling and surprising 43rd edition start tomorrow! Why not jot the dates down in your diary: 22 January - 2 February 2014. Enjoy watching and we hope to see you again next year!

This is an article from the Daily Tiger dated Sunday 3 February 2013.
Photo: Felix Kalkman