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Things I Learned at the Rotterdam Film Festival

Thompson on Hollywood By Torene Svitil | Thompson on Hollywood February 4, 2014 at 3:32PM

How must festivals must change to survive in the digital age? How can they continue to support independent film and filmmakers, build audiences, increase film literacy and encourage vital dialogue when watching films on a big screen is no longer the norm? Panels and programs at Rotterdam grappled with these issues, but the festival itself illustrated some of the confusion of these shifting roles.
The INternational Film Festival in Rotterdam
The INternational Film Festival in Rotterdam

Judging from the films I saw at Rotterdam, commercial considerations played a small part in the programming. Yet the festival does not ignore the commercial side. It runs CineMart to help filmmakers launch co-productions. "Tabija" by Igor Drljaca won the €10,000 Eurimages Co-Production Development Award and the ARTE International Prize of €7,000 went to "Happy Time Will Come Soon" by Alessandro Comodin.

The purpose of the Big Screen Award is to help fund a commercial release within the Netherlands. The winner of the €10,000 grant to support distribution costs, chosen by an audience jury, was "Another Year," a first feature by Ukrainian Oxana Bychkova, which the jury called "Pitch perfect, beautifully acted and choreographed, modest, subtle and utterly convincing.''  The film was picked up for international distribution by Russian sales agent Ant!pode.  Among the other films nabbing international distribution were Dick Tuinder's "Farewell to the Moon" by Media Luna New Films; and Caroline Strubbe's "I'm the Same, I'm An Other" by New Europe Film Sales.

Heart or no, Rotterdam's public attendance is strong--many come back year after year with friends and family. And it's probably no coincidence that two of the films on the public's top 10 list are not only from the Netherlands, but take place at least partly, in Rotterdam.


    1. Nebraska, Alexander Payne, USA, Audience Award winner
    2. Zombie: The Resurrection of Tim Zom, Billy Pols, Netherlands
    3. Starred Up, David Mackenzie, UK
    4. Feel My Love, Briet Teck, Belgium
    5. Sorrow and Joy, Nils Malmros, Denmark
    6. The Selfish Giant, Clio Barnard, UK
    7. Papusza, Joanna Kos-Krauze, Krzysztof Krauze, Poland
    8. The Creator of the Jungle,  Jordi Morató, Spain
    9. The Other Side of the Heart Is White, Leonard Pansier, Netherlands
    10. Her, Spike Jonze, USA

This article is related to: Festivals, International Film Festival Rotterdam

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.