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International Film Festival Rotterdam

25 January - 5 February, 2023

Interview by Max Borg

The Film Verdict: This is your first fully physical edition as artistic director. How does it feel to be back to normal?

Vanja Kaludjercic: It’s a huge relief. Our online editions were still interesting, because we offered something regular streamers don’t have, but part of the joy of the festival is the communal experience. We had our opening screening, the world premiere of Munch, with a full house of 1600 people. The overall feeling was of relief and gratitude, that we can all be together again.

Interview by Max Borg

The Film Verdict: This is your first fully physical edition as artistic director. How does it feel to be back to normal?

Vanja Kaludjercic: It’s a huge relief. Our online editions were still interesting, because we offered something regular streamers don’t have, but part of the joy of the festival is the communal experience. We had our opening screening, the world premiere of Munch, with a full house of 1600 people. The overall feeling was of relief and gratitude, that we can all be together again.

TFV: I agree about the communal experience. Having said that, I was unable to cover the festival prior to the pandemic.

VK: Yes, if there was one silver lining, for lack of a better word, it was the fact we were able to bring the films to international professionals and press in a way that benefited the competitions especially. The Tiger Competition and the Big Screen Competition received more coverage than ever before. And while that kind of accessibility is important, it still doesn’t change the fact that the best festival experiences are the ones on the big screen. A beamer in your home can’t compare.

TFV: Rotterdam has been going on for 53 years, and it’s the first major European festival of the year. Does that add any pressure during the selection process?

VK: Not really. We are quite close to Berlin, so there’s the question of a few films – not that many – having to make a choice between the two. But overall, we are quite different from them, and out of 430 films in the program, about half of them are world premieres, which shows that both festivals have earned the trust of filmmakers to nurture their works.

TFV: What sets Rotterdam apart nowadays? And how do you maintain its tradition while also putting your stamp on it?

VK: Well, I started working as artistic director only a few weeks before the lockdown in early 2020, so the first thing we did was to reduce the program for the online version. We had about 20% fewer films than we do now with the physical edition. Other than that, our main goal with the programming team has been to expand our horizons and really spotlight all facets of contemporary world cinema, and find the right balance between the sections. I’m very proud of our Japanese selection, most of which is international or European premieres, because Japanese films tend to have a reduced presence at the other major festivals. It’s the same with India: they produce more films yearly than any other country, but you only see a handful of them around the world. We’ve also expanded our animation programming for the same reason.

TFV: Any other nations in the spotlight?

VK: Rotterdam has always had a good relationship with Indonesia, and this year’s selection really highlights the diversity of contemporary Indonesian cinema. We have a superhero film, for example, and it’s the kind of mainstream entertainment and spectacle that can easily stand alongside the Marvel movies.

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