Richard James Havis reports
Rotterdam is making its presence felt in New York. The IFFR has come to an arrangement with the Brooklyn Academy Of Music – one of the city’s most prestigious arts organisations – for public screenings of the competitors for the VPRO Tiger Awards Competition. There will also be screenings for industry professionals and festival organisers. This Rotterdam@BAM program will take place in Brooklyn's BAMcinématek from 3 to 9 March.
“The Rotterdam festival was interested in establishing a stronger presence in the US,” explains BAMcinématek's Program Director Florence Almozini. “We met and discussed how we could collaborate. We felt that by combining our forces and strengths, we could create a strong programme to reach out to a new audience that wouldn’t otherwise have access to the festival.”
“We aim to make these great independent films accessible to a larger public,” continues Almozini. “We also want to create a market for industry and press folks who are not able to attend Rotterdam. Since it takes place between Sundance and Berlin, it is not always easy to fit in a visit to Rotterdam. We felt that, by bringing the Tiger selection to a great NY venue like BAM, we would be serving a purpose for the industry.”
The thematic and geographical range of the VPRO Tiger competitors is something that will attract New Yorkers, Almozini thinks: “The Tigers have a strong focus on diversity and discovery. They are geographically diverse, and diverse in terms of genre and style. They are alternative, non-commercial films from uncompromising filmmakers. We have a really great audience for them here in Brooklyn. They are open-minded, ready to discover new horizons in cinema, and happy to take a chance on films they know nothing about. Our audience is extremely supportive, enthusiastic and grateful to have access to more than just the regular Hollywood fare.”
The press and industry screenings will showcase every film, says Almozini: “The P&I screenings will display the full breadth of the line-up. We’d love to get significant press coverage in mainstream New York outlets for a festival of Rotterdam’s stature, as the general American public is not aware of it. Also, from a distributor’s point of view, it’s very important to see how these films play stateside – it’s a different audience to Europe.”
Foreign-language films are a low priority for US distributors in the current economic climate. “Festivals like Rotterdam and arthouse repertory venues like BAM are quickly becoming the only places for the general public to have access to independent cinema on the big screen,” says Almozini. “We need to keep fighting the good fight!”