Marit van den Elshout • Head of CineMart
by Martin Kudláč
- Cineuropa caught up with the head of CineMart, Marit van den Elshout, to discuss the upcoming edition of the market and what attendees can expect from it
As the 45th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, which kicked off yesterday, has undergone several changes, Cineuropa sat down with the head of CineMart, Marit van den Elshout, to talk about whether this situation would also apply to the industry side of the festival and the 33rd edition of CineMart, an event that she has headed since 2007.
Cineuropa: There have been some major changes regarding the upcoming edition of the IFFR. Is this also the case for the industry side?
Marit van den Elshout: Since Bero Beyer’s appointment as the festival director in September (read the interview), we have been brainstorming and debating intensively mainly about the future of CineMart, and some of the changes will already come into play at the upcoming edition. We will try to focus on a chosen theme every day, and all of the panels and events on that particular day will be tied to a theme. We will also feature more in-depth talks and broader CineMart events. This programme structure is something we are working towards in order to really make CineMart not just a place with projects and one-to-one meetings, but also a space that addresses a lot of issues within the film industry. Of course, we had done this at previous editions, but we want to make it more on a structural level. What we are doing now is bringing back projects from previous editions of CineMart and the ones that received financing from the Hubert Bals Fund, and showcasing them. And for the next edition and the years to come, we are working on programmes where we could mentor filmmakers. The biggest changes will come into effect after the 45th edition of the IFFR, as we are currently preparing a plan from 2018 onwards, so the most important alterations will come into play in 2017.
The relationship between Rotterdam and filmmakers is intended to be a lasting one.
We have three former Tiger winners in the CineMart selection. We have always followed filmmakers whom we supported at various stages of their films or careers – that is nothing new. But what is new is that we are showcasing bits of projects that have already been at CineMart, like Luxembourg by Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy. They can show some clips, look for distributors, for example, or if they are still looking for partners or sales agents, they can show material and have meetings. We start with Hubert Bals funding very early, then we support the chosen projects at markets… We do not just make a one-off effort for projects. We would really like to become a sort of partner for filmmakers from all over the globe who can reach out to us. We can give them an early reading of their script or go through the rough cut, and we want to build on that for the future.
The current CineMart line-up is diverse and intriguing. How did you put it together?
It is a strongly curated line-up, but the projects are above all about the stories and filmmaking talent involved. We have a very good selection committee. We also work with external people – producers, sales agents, distributors, script editors – to provide an international overview, so a lot of criteria come into play. First of all, we have to be attracted to the project artistically and we have to be attracted to the filmmaker’s work, his or her previous work, and then we look at producers, countries and the financial status. The state of the project is really important; for example, the Radu Jude project that we are having at the upcoming edition is still at quite an early development stage, but we could only do this with a filmmaker such as Jude and the attached, experienced producer, Ada Solomon – people who are well known and who are using this as a launch platform. The selection is about finding the perfect balance in terms of stories and countries. There is not a specific magic formula.
Could you sum up the themes of the projects submitted this year?
We now have two historical films; there was a year when we had a plethora of biopics. There are years when we have lots of period pieces and troubled family stories. This year, the number-one theme among the projects submitted is teenagers and sex. It is kind of a generational affair, with children growing up in the contemporary world with emptiness and loss, and you see these sentiments channelled into film projects by young directors.
You also have the Art:Film branch.
Yes, this is a platform that we started a few years ago in order to create a space where we could discuss projects that fall between the art world and the film world. Artists who want to make a feature film run into obstacles in terms of the very different way of financing and distributing films in a more traditional way. There are also filmmakers who decide to make multiplatform work consisting of installations around a film. But both worlds are so different in terms of financing and distribution – video art versus conventional fiction film. That’s why we felt there was a need to create a platform where we could bring those two worlds together.
You will organise some master classes, as usual, but will there be other events?
There will be many different events targeted at different audiences. There will be a few master classes aimed at the festival audience and film students. Within CineMart, we will organise different debates for the wider industry audience. Within the Film Office, we organise many more practical panels and presentations for all filmmakers attending the festival, and within the Rotterdam Lab, we offer a specific programme targeted at emerging producers from all over the world – case studies and speed-dating events, for example.The topics that will be addressed include: “The State of Cinema”, “Cinema vs Television”, international co-production, new professionalism, how to set up a sustainable production company now that a producer has to be much more entrepreneurial, and how to deal with private equity.