IFFR Pro matters
1 February 2021
IFFR Pro's Marit van den Elshout tells See NL about what she and her colleagues have in store for film professionals during online Rotterdam 2021.
IFFR goes above and beyond the standard remit of most international film events. As a festival it has torn up the rulebook on so many occasions, whether in championing filmmakers in countries where there was (or remains) no adequate funding infrastructure; in creating a glorious space for cineastes where experimental meets arthouse meets commercial; or in freely borrowing ideas from other disciplines and industries to improve both the business and experience of cinema.
Not least in all this is the contribution of IFFR Pro which oversees CineMart, still considered to be the blue print for international co-production markets, the Hubert Bals Fund which helped pave the way for the emergence of genius filmmaking talents from all four corners of the globe, and Rotterdam Lab which looks to develop and celebrate the next generation of international and independent producers.
IFFR Pro Director Marit van den Elshout
"Yes, we are more than a film festival," agrees IFFR Pro director Marit van den Elshout with characteristic understatement/modesty. "Through structured funding, talent development, a strong co-production market and an innovative conference programme, IFFR offers year-round guidance and support to all film professionals."
This year is no different...well, actually it is. It is very different, given that the festival will be presented in two parts, firstly online in February and then in (hopefully sunny) June, as a hybrid event with a strong in-person, face-to-face component (Covid permitting).
Of course, given that IFFR Pro dates are indelibly underlined in most industryite diaries, the professional Rotterdam programme will also be presented online in February. This includes the 17 new film projects (plus 4 Interactive) of CineMart, as well as the BoostNL projects. It also includes the extended Rotterdam Lab as well as all Pro Hub activities designed to guide new and experienced producers and filmmakers through the intricate and complex processes of production, finance and release.
"We have created all sorts of different formats in the lead up to the festival, for the filmmakers and for the project reps to meet each other, to meet with the programmers, the decision makers," says Van den Elshout. "Most of our work has gone into that. And actually because we are now a smaller edition with fewer films, it has been a lot more rewarding as there has been a lot more personal contact with everybody."
That said, in a year characterised by uncertainty and restraint on the part of the international industry, the IFFR Pro head was both surprised and happy to see the number of partner institutions grow to 73 in total.
The Rotterdam Lab can itself boast 44 partners, which in turn led to a record 74 participants at this year's event. The numerous Lab partner organisations include the likes of the Netherlands Film Fund, Film i Vast, Screen Ireland, Sundance Institute, Cinema Chile and the Singapore Film Commission. The latest institution to partner with Rotterdam Lab is Projeto Paradiso (Brazil), which is also partnering with HBF and granting 10K for one of the Brazilian projects that will be selected this year.
2020 was pretty atrocious for the planet, and there is no denying that a new year brings with it new hope and optimism. This is very much the same for Van den Elshout and her team as they eye assess more the first week of February.
"For a long time we had an apologetic echo with this, ‘we really wish we could all be together in person' thing, which is true, of course. Now we are here in January after a lot of ups and downs, but with a different mindset. We are really positive about everything we have done so far and what we will deliver next week. And we see that as well in the response of the filmmakers and all the project representatives."
IFFR Pro Days 2021, 1 - 5 February: www.iffr.com/en/iffr-pro
To read about FUTURE ME and the other Dutch projects presented during the 2021 IFFR Pro Days, check the SEE NL line-up: