Inke Van Loocke • Manager, CineMart and Rotterdam Lab
"We want to create a market experience that meets the needs and ambitions of our selected projects"
- With the 36th CineMart poised to run from 27-30 January, Inke Van Loocke, manager of CineMart and Rotterdam Lab, offers an overview of both of the leading industry sections of IFFR Pro
With the 36th edition of CineMart raring to go and set to run from 27-30 January, Inke Van Loocke, manager of CineMart and Rotterdam Lab, offers Cineuropa an overview of both of the leading industry sections of IFFR Pro.
Cineuropa: As was the case last year, you are presenting a “refocused” version of CineMart with a smaller number of projects. How difficult was it to go through this streamlined selection process again?
Inke Van Loocke: This year, we received over 400 applications, and making a selection of around 16 projects from that pool is challenging. For us, it is important to curate a selection that is a careful balance in scope, between new talent and established voices and themes. We include professionals in our selection committee who each have a different perspective on the market and who know our editorial line-up very well, which is crucial in decision-making. There is always a lot of debate and discussion involved, but we always end up with a selection that we are all proud of, and we strongly believe that we’ll see them at festivals and in cinemas in the future.
We can offer more to the projects if we have a more focused selection. We can dedicate more attention to preparing the project teams for such a crucial moment, and we want to open up every possible opportunity for collaboration. We are thrilled to be working with very experienced and generous experts who, above all, are allies on “their” projects: they go through all of the meeting requests carefully together with the teams and dispense advice on production and financing strategies. By combining this with our rich experience in organising a co-production market and connecting people, we want to create a market experience that meets the needs and ambitions of our selected projects.
Could you give us a better overview of CineMart Spotlight, where the projects are presented to the industry?
Having a smaller selection also allows us to organise CineMart Spotlight, which proved crucial for our ambitions to have a more tightly focused market. We approach the event more as a conversation between peers, rather than a pitch, and that creates a more personal atmosphere, where the filmmakers and producers speak about what really drives them to tell their story and highlight elements that are difficult to convey in writing. We received a lot of positive feedback from the industry as well. CineMart Spotlight was a successful way for our guests to explore projects that weren’t necessarily on their radar. Because of the more focused selection, our guests were able to better prepare for the market or could even read the scripts beforehand. Our flexible and tailored meeting schedules were more effective because instead of having a pitch and a short introduction, there was more time to explore a possible partnership, ultimately leading to more tangible results and valuable connections being made.
Did you observe any common themes in the CineMart projects that were submitted?
We were happy to see an increase in strong female protagonists and well-developed female characters. One particularly strong theme was that of self-discovery, and looking for an identity and belonging. The story could be set in a family environment, dealing with family dynamics, or within the geopolitical landscape. We were moved by the intimate storytelling and the very personal directors’ notes.
Rotterdam Lab is welcoming a staggering number of 60 emerging producers. How important is the role of the Lab?
It plays a vital role in the core of our IFFR Pro activities. It always includes such an incredibly inspiring group of up-and-coming producers. They come from 29 countries and bring with them a lot of ambition, new stories and ways of collaborating. Because the Lab is so closely tied to CineMart, the “Labbies” and our guests can easily engage with each other, which brings a great energy to the market. In both the programme of the festival and for the Hubert Bals Fund [HBF] and CineMart, we always look for new voices and talent, and we often see alumni return to Rotterdam with their films and projects. This year is no exception, so I definitely expect the same for this year’s group.
Could you pick out some of the highlights in the Rotterdam Lab?
Setting up an international network, meeting with industry experts and making lasting connections are things that remain at the core of the Lab. We will focus on co-producing and creative partnerships (and how to maintain them). Co-productions are often described as a marriage, so how best to take care of that marriage? How do you negotiate or solve a conflict? How do you convey feedback or discuss the creative aspects of the project with your director? We’ll use specific scenarios and situations during an interactive session with a communication expert, using the experiences of the group to address these challenges. We also have a financing session on the programme: the participants are often on the verge of making their first international co-production, where they’ll often have to combine different forms of financing (and find them). This year, we are presenting a co-production case study on The Load [+see also:
interview: Ognjen Glavonić
film profile], a film that was supported by the HBF and presented at CineMart. Together with the team, we’ll dive deep into the challenges of making and financing this film. It is always impressive to see how generous the teams usually are in sharing stories of the hardships and the various paths to success at the Rotterdam Lab. It’s a session that can't be missed.
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