The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) on Monday launched its video-on-demand (VOD) platform IFFR Unleashed, giving a worldwide audience the chance to access the treasure-trove of films that have screened at the festival for 47 years, from the comfort and convenience of their homes and personal devices.
The launch ceremony had in attendance Bero Beyer, festival director; Janneke Staarink, MD, IFFR; Ivo Bakhuys, project manager, IFFR Unleashed; sales agent Lidia Damatto Moreira and filmmaker David Verbeek.
“We have been working towards this probably over the last 20 years,” said Janneke Staarink at the press conference, adding that IFFR was the first festival to bring films online in 2005, launched initiatives such as IFFR In the Cloud and iTunes in 2013 and IFFR presents on YouTube in 2014. “But we realized the existing platforms are inflexible. We wanted to set our own rules.” The IFFR Unleashed was launched in beta at last year's festival with 10 films, and feedback taken from its first users.
“The three important aspects of this platform are – We curated the films because all the film here were part of IFFR; we bring context through the archive of our masterclasses from the past editions; and filmmakers have control, like what countries they want to make it available.”
The platform, based on a monthly subscription model, will allow users to access the rich and ever-expanding archives of IFFR, based on three main sorting options -- films, directors and collections. The interface does not use an algorithm of the viewer's last seen films to suggest new ones, but can suggest films based on what the audience is in the mood for from a mood filter option.
“We don't want to make money off of this,” Bero Beyer said at the event. “We want filmmakers to benefit from it, filmmakers we care about.” He further explained about the platform's motto: it's not about exclusivity; we just want to show something unique that you cannot see elsewhere.”
Dutch film director David Verbeek, who has films like “Full Contact” available on the platform, said “There is a sense of urgency among filmmakers to stay in cinema. We have to find a way to show our films,” he added, praising the initiative.
The web-based platform, on www.iffrunleashed.com, will also move towards app-based services soon, according to project manager Ivo Bakhuys. Subscription for a year of unlimited use is 90 Euros, but during the festival a special offer of 60 Euros is going on, with the additional bonus of three films to be given as a gift to friends.
The Daily Star's Fahmim Ferdous is covering International Film Festival Rotterdam as a participant of its Young Film Critics Program.