Bero Beyer • Director, International Film Festival Rotterdam
"The more outspoken, clear and daring we can be, the bigger the audience seems to become"
- The director of the IFFR, Bero Beyer, talks to Cineuropa about his tenure, his vision and what is to be expected from the upcoming edition, which kicks off today
Independent Dutch producer Bero Beyer was appointed general and artistic director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) in May 2015, and he will be helming his third edition this year (24 January-4 February). He talked to Cineuropa about the direction the festival is headed in and what can be expected this year.
Cineuropa: The upcoming edition is your third as festival director. How would you summarise your tenure so far?
Bero Beyer: The most exciting part of doing the festival for the third time is the overwhelming energy and extensive possibilities that gatherings such as the IFFR have. Already in the first year, we tried to instil a sense of uniqueness both in the public side of the festival as well as on the professional side, for instance in the way we are trying to combine the Hubert Bals Fund and CineMart with distribution we are doing throughout the year. It focuses on the fact that festivals as cinema hubs are becoming more and more important, and for Rotterdam in particular, the outspokenness of the programme is key. The more outspoken, clear and daring we can be, the bigger the audience seems to become. What I really enjoyed last year was the amount of master classes and context programmes that we can have, and this year, that programme is going to be almost double the size. The festival is not just showing a bunch of films; it is creating a context for them with master classes, music performances, visual art, VR installations and the industry-related events. We are having five specialised, themed programmes in our Perspectives section that together also tell a story, and I am always interested in what a festival in its entirety is bringing. If you are doing something that is meaningful and not boring, you are doing something right. The audience wants films that offer an alternative and fresh view, and I happen to think that is very important.
There were several goals you set at the beginning of your tenure.
There were three main goals. One was to be more coherent in our professional approach, to really be a partner to the film projects we support. What I mean by that is the integration of funding, development, production and distribution is something that we are supporting through various programmes. Our revised CineMart set-up and the combination of having both the Hubert Bals Fund and CineMart under one roof is already a huge step in the right direction. Mission number two is to be able to double down on our contextual programmes, left, right and centre – I mean both towards master classes and performances, and towards, let’s say, more films that relate to cinema as art. The third element is our role as an innovator, for instance with IFFR Live – but not just being involved in the distribution, not just having panels on distribution, but also experimenting with new ways to integrate incubator-style thinking into the festival set-up, which is something you may remember from last year. And that leads us to the launch of our streaming platform.
What have you been working on?
We have been playing with it and testing it as a beta version for a while now. We got together with some key partners and have been working overtime to make sure that what we think is engaging during the festival will be working as well once IFFR Unleashed is released beyond IFFR, as it is a proper subscription-based SVoD and TVoD platform for IFFR content. Yes, there will be films online; yes, you can become a member; and we will be adding films on a monthly basis to extend the catalogue. What is nice about this is not just that many of those films are hard to find elsewhere, but mostly that we try to give the same context and feel that the festival provides. So we are speaking about master classes, discussions, performances and other elements that give it a peripheral context and meaning. You will find them online as well.
Are there any major industry tweaks at the IFFR?
There is one big step being made to be more committed to fewer projects. We are aspiring to be a year-long, or even longer-term, partner for film projects. An example of this is a collaboration called BoostNL, where our projects are being presented at various stages. It means that at the end of the day, we are taking fewer new projects – only 15 to 20 per year selected at the CineMart – and we are trying to have a longer-term follow-up with those projects that we already supported at various stages. We are looking for the right elements to have them reach out to mentors, take part in workshops and be exposed to the industry at the right moment so that the projects can benefit to the maximum, rather than having too many projects float around, too many co-productions. We like to expand to more general elements, rather than focus on the co-production itself.
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