Get to know our programmers (Part 3)

01 May 2023

Film still: DEMIGOD: The Legend Begins, Taiwan, 2022, Chris Huang Wen-chang (an IFFR favourite of Borsos from our 2023 programme)


Get to know our programmers (Part 3)

01 May 2023

The programmers putting together our next festival edition in 2024 bring an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience to Rotterdam. Each programmer uses their unique regional expertise to create a truly global lineup full of newly uncovered gems and festival favourites. With some new faces joining the team, we thought we’d share a little more about their background, their focus, and their experience in the film industry and elsewhere.

‘Get to know our  programmers’ deals with a selection from our programming team who took part in the interview process. You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here to learn about what they look for when scouting new work, and some of their favourite film experiences. See here our full programming team and selection committee members.


Kristína Aschenbrennerova

Focus: features from South Korea, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan

Since 2010, Kristína Aschenbrennerova has been working as a festival programmer with a focus on the Far East and South-East Asia for Art Film Fest Kosice, and later also for Slovak Queer Film Festival and BRNO16 International Short Film Festival. She is the Programme Manager of Pop Up Film Residency, and until September 2022, has worked as a festival relations officer at Slovak Film Institute. She writes for Kino Ikon and Asian Movie Pulse. She continues to learn Mandarin and Korean and is ever curious to challenge her capacities, looking for interesting cinematic connections and discoveries.

Stefan Borsos 

Focus: features from South and South-East Asia

Stefan Borsos is a writer, curator, film/TV scholar and sinologist. He founded CineAsia film magazine in 2000 and started programming work with the first edition of Cineasia Film Festival Cologne in 2001, being mostly responsible for Hong Kong, Singaporean and South Korean films. In 2004, he coordinated the German section of Europe’s first Hong Kong Film Panorama. After that, he focused on advising various film festivals regarding mainly Hong Kong/Chinese and later on South Asian films, helping to put up the IFFR showcase on recent Tamil Cinema, House on Fire, in 2018. Since 2020, he has been a programmer for South Asia at IFFR, coordinator for genre films worldwide (since 2021) as well as a programmer for Southeast Asia (since 2022)

Michelle Carey 

Focus: features from English-speaking territories

Michelle Carey is a Berlin-based film programmer and curator, overseeing the English-speaking territories for IFFR. As well as being a freelance film curator, she is a program advisor for the New York Film Festival and a mentor at the Berlinale Talent Press. She is also a co-founder of Red Balloon Alliance. She was previously the Artistic Director of Melbourne International Film Festival, sat on the selection committee for the Directors' Fortnight, and an editor at the online film journal Senses of Cinema. She is a recipient of the Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres from the French Government.

Mercedes Martínez-Abarca 

Focus: features from South and Central America, Mexico, Caribbean

Mercedes Martínez-Abarca is a film programmer and consultant based in the Netherlands. Mercedes has worked at IFFR since 2009, where she is currently in charge of the Latin-American and Caribbean regions and part of the Hubert Bals Fund selection committee. She also works as a film programmer at Soho House Amsterdam and collaborates with female filmmakers association Dones Visuals.

Martínez-Abarca has been part of the selection committee for Ventana Sur’s Primer Corte and Copia Final. Previously, she coordinated the Holland Film Meeting, worked at sales agency Fortissimo Films, and has collaborated with different film festivals and co-production platforms.

Olaf Möller

Focus: features from German speaking territories and Nordic countries

Olaf Möller, is a freelance writer and programmer based in Cologne and Helsinki. He is a critic for various international film magazines and a consultant for several film festivals. He is an adjunct Professor of Film History and Theory at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture of Aalto University, and has co-written and published a variety of books on cinema.

Lyse Nsengiyumva

Focus: features from Sub-Saharan Africa and shorts

Lyse Ishimwe Nsengiyumva is a film curator and photographer. Lyse is currently based in Belgium, where she founded Recognition in 2016. Recognition is a Brussels-based initiative with the aim of increasing the visibility of African and African diaspora art, literature and culture via community-based film screenings. In her work for this project, Lyse curates a film programme that takes place at art and cultural spaces in various cities across Europe. Lyse currently works at IFFR as a programmer for the Sub-Saharan African region. Previously, she was a film consultant for Berlinale Forum.

Ivan Ramljak

Focus: shorts

Ivan Ramljak is a filmmaker, film critic, and independent curator. In 2003, he founded Human Rights Film Festival in Zagreb, Croatia. Since 2013, he curates the Short Tuesday film programme at cinema Tuškanac in Zagreb. Since 2016, he is the Artistic Director of Tabor Film Festival, the oldest short film festival in Croatia. So far, he has directed eleven films – four fiction films, five documentaries and two experimental films. His films have been shown at more than 80 international festivals all over the world (including IFFR, Cinéma du Réel, Dok Leipzig), and have won several awards.

Read more about Judit Elek's book

Koen de Rooij

Focus: features and shorts

Koen de Rooij is a Rotterdam-based film programmer. His main interests lie in the continuing influences of national borders, migration and the (colonial) past on the lives of humans and how this is reflected in and explored through film. He has been part of the IFFR Short Film selection committee since 2017 and works as a curator for the Rotterdam-based art collective Mint Podium.

Delly Shirazi, 

Focus: features from the Middle-East, Northern Africa, Iran, and Turkey

Born in Iran and raised in Switzerland, Delly Shirazi  has lived and worked in the Middle East for over a decade, where she has an extensive network. Delly joined the Doha Film Institute in 2012 and remains an active consultant with the institute’s Grants Programme. For two consecutive years, she was the Lab Head of Studies and selection committee member at Open Doors Locarno Festival. She was also a programme advisor to the Geneva International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights between 2016 and 2021. Since 2018, Delly has been part of the IFFR family as a regular member of the Hubert Bals Fund selection committee, a mentor at IFFR Pro and, for the past three years, as a programmer for the MENA region. Since 2022, she is also part of the selection committee.

In parallel, Delly fulfilled her passion for human rights by acting as the main coordinator of the newly created International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk between October 2020 and March 2022. 

Read more on the Emergency Fund for Filmmakers

Film still: Unidentified, South Korea , 2022, Jude Chun (an IFFR favourite of Aschenbrennerova from our 2023 programme)

Film still: DEMIGOD: The Legend Begins, Taiwan, 2022, Chris Huang Wen-chang (an IFFR favourite of Borsos from our 2023 programme)

Film still: Cilaos, France, 2016, Camilo Restrepo (an IFFR favourite of Borsos from our 2017 programme)

Film still: Agua fría de mar, Costa Rica, France, Spain, Netherlands, Mexico, 2010, Paz Fábrega (an IFFR favourite of Martínez-Abarca from our 2010 programme)

Film still: Santo contra los jinetes del terror, Mexico, 1970, René Cardona (an IFFR favourite of Möller from our 2023 programme)

Film still: Shimoni, Kenya, 2022, Angela Wanjiku Wamai (an IFFR favourite of Nsengiyumva from our 2023 programme)

Film still: Maybe Tomorrow, Hungary, 1980, Judit Elek (an IFFR favourite of Ramljak from our 2023 programme). Also featured in Focus Programme on the filmmaker.

Film still: The Island Funeral, Thailand, 2015, Pimpaka Towira (an IFFR favourite of de Rooij from our 2018 programme).

Film still: Careless Crime, Iran, 2020, Shahram Mokri (an IFFR favourite of Shirazi from our 2022 programme).