Agnieszka Holland’s “Green Border” won the audience award at the 53rd edition of International Film Festival Rotterdam in a strong year for the event, which recorded 253,500 visits across its programs.
Holland’s Venice Jury Prize-winner derives its name from the swampy forests found at the border between Poland and Belarus, a perilous place where hundreds of migrants — mostly from the Middle East and Africa — try to make their way into the European Union. “Green Border” chronicles the intertwined lives of people caught in the geopolitical webs of the crossing and joins several of Holland’s films to have played at IFFR, including “Europa Europa” and “Burning Bush.”
This year’s edition of the festival, which took place between Jan. 25 – Feb. 4, featured 424 films, 183 of which were world premieres, plus accompanying programs including Art Directions and IFFR Talks. As part of the Talks program, the festival welcomed names such as Sandra Hüller, Billy Woodberry, Marco Bellocchio and Debbie Harry for in-depth conversations about their careers and their impact on the world of independent filmmaking.
The festival’s Focus programs ranged from a retrospective on Chilean cinema in exile to the work of “Diabolik” directors Manetti Bros., and a retrospective curated to celebrate the release of the final film by Hong Kong provocateur Scud, “Naked Nations – Tribe Hong Kong.”
As previously announced, Tanaka Toshihiko’s “Rei” won IFFR’s main Tiger Award, while Oktay Baraheni’s “The Old Bachelor” took the VPRO Big Screen Award. Cinemart, the festival’s industry arm, awarded its main prizes to Barbara Rupik’s “Cherub” and Lilian Hess’s “Duchampiana.”
“This edition we saw with great pleasure how our discoveries found their audiences,” said festival director Vanja Kaludjercic. “From the joy of our opening night, to the excitement of welcoming superstars and cinematic giants, to witnessing the blossoming of future greats like the Tiger Award winner, there was a special atmosphere at the festival this edition.”
“We take pride in making a program that foregrounds the unexpected and unique – and that challenges and enriches. As we look ahead, we see that our ideas and aspirations connect strongly with the audience, strengthening us for the years to come,” Kaludjercic concluded.
This edition of IFFR marked the first of Claire Stewart as managing director, who said of the successful year: “We are thrilled that, despite a reduction in scale to match our resources, the 53rd edition of IFFR has maintained its public reach, exceeded ticket sales targets and increased our overall occupancy rate to 75%. This affirms our strategic focus on ‘impact over scale’ and puts us in a great position to continue the recalibration of IFFR for future years.”