Armando Iannucci's political satire “The Death of Stalin” (a film banned in five countries including Russia) brought this year's International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) to an official close on Saturday night, after 11 days of enthralling film screenings, talks, masterclasses, conferences and networking. Some programmes of the festival, however, continued over the weekend on Sunday.
A total of 531 feature, mid-length and short films screened this year, of which 140 had their world premieres at the 12-day festival, which saw its 47th edition being held this year. Among them were 267 feature films of which 60 had world premieres, 35 international premieres and 19 European premieres. Around 264 short and mid-length films were also screened, of which 80 were world premieres, 37 international premieres and 24 European premieres. Some 2,405 film professionals from all corners of the world attended the event, including 332 filmmakers. More than 32,9000 attendances were counted at the screenings and events, who voted 76 films a 4 out of 5 or higher.
The festival's main competition award, the Hivos Tiger, was won by Cai Chengjie for “The Widowed Witch”, while a special jury award went to Rami Alayan for his screenplay in “The Reports on Sarah and Saleem”. Gustav Möller's “The Guilty” won the IFFR Audience Award, and the Bright Future Award was picked up by Tiago Melo for “Azougue Nazaré”. The awards, along with a host of others, were handed out on February 2.
Some of this year's highlights included Thai master auteur Apichatpong Weerashethakul's grand project SLEEPCINEMAHOTEL, a video installation project that served as a fully-functional hotel where people could sleep in, surrounded by images and sounds; Czech surrealist filmmaker-animator Jan Švankmajer's final feature-length film “Insect”; a masterclass by US filmmaker and screenwriter of films such as “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” Paul Schrader; a talk by Charlotte Rampling, the British actor-model known best for her European arthouse – along with a screening of her latest film “Hannah”, and a special screening of Paul Thomas Anderson's “Phantom Thread” - which has scored six nominations at this year's Oscars - with the film's entire soundtrack played by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
The festival offered five extensive theme programmes this year – “House on Fire”, “Pan-African Cinema Today”, “Curtain Call” and “Maximum Overdrive”, and “A History of Shadows”. The festival also had a special focus on the work of Polish artist Artur Żmijewski, and presented a retrospective on films by Argentinian filmmaker José Celestino Campusano as well as a Deep Focus Short Profile on the work of Chinese artist-filmmaker Zhou Tao.
IFFR's endeavor in the direction of independent film distribution – IFFR Unleashed, a round-the-year VOD platform for films screened at the festival – was also met with positive response as over a thousand users from 44 countries signed up for it.
The festival also held the 4th edition of “IFFR Live” through which six films, all by female directors, simultaneously screened in more than 45 cinemas worldwide - including post-Mugabe Zimbabwean capital Harare, as well as Singapore and Curaçao. Audiences from all over the world were able to join in the post-screening talk shows.
IFFR 2018 hosted the first edition of Reality Check, a two-day conference focusing on film distribution, while the 35th edition of CineMart was refocused and offered a platform to 16 projects. Fifty-nine participants also joined Rotterdam Lab, a five-day training workshop for emerging producers.
The festival's expanded education programme – featuring special talks, screenings and workshops for children and students – reached 28,800 people. The IFFR Youth Jury also handed out an award at the awards ceremony, while the festival also organised a special workshop for teachers on how to incorporate film into the school curriculum.
The next edition of the IFFR will be held from January 23, 2019 to February 3, 2019.
The Daily Star's Fahmim Ferdous covered the 47th IFFR as part of its Young Film Critics Programme.