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The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has moved its 2022 industry events — including the CineMart market and the Rotterdam Lab — online in response to growing concerns over rising COVID-19 infection rates in the Netherlands and the spread of the new omicron variant of the coronavirus.
It is still unclear whether Rotterdam will also cancel its in-person festival, scheduled to run Jan. 26-Feb. 6 in response to the fourth wave of COVID-19. On Wednesday, Rotterdam festival director Vanja Kaludjercic said organizers were “closely monitoring the developments in the Netherlands and already anticipate that the circumstances, as well as the governmental restrictions put in place to combat the current wave of COVID-19, will impact the shape of IFFR 2022.” But Kaludjercic said Rotterdam was still working on what form the 2022 festival will take.
The IFFR pushed back its final pre-festival press conference from Dec. 21 to Jan. 7. At that point, Kaludjercic said, the festival would be able to share more. “In spite of these continuous challenges, we carry on adapting an exciting program for our film-loving community,” she added in a statement.
The coronavirus pandemic disrupted plans for this year’s IFFR, the 50th-anniversary edition. Bowing to Dutch COVID-19 restrictions, Rotterdam split its 2021 program, holding an online-only event in January for the international film industry and a hybrid in-person and online festival in the summer for local audiences.
Concerns over a new wave of COVID-19 infections, and uncertainty surrounding the omicron variant have led to speculation that the big winter film festivals could be forced online or canceled entirely. Ahead of Rotterdam is Sundance 2022, which is currently set to be an in-person event running Jan. 20-30. The Berlin International Film Festival, the world’s largest public film festival, is set to run Feb. 10-20, with its accompanying European Film Market, the first major film market of the year, scheduled for Feb. 10-17. Berlin has said it was sticking to plans to hold an in-person festival and market. Germany has introduced new COVID-19 restrictions in response to rising infection rates but has so far not shut down cinemas or imposed a new lockdown which would make an in-person festival untenable.
Rotterdam on Wednesday unveiled details of its 2022 program, including a trio of retrospective tributes to “genre-defying filmmakers” Amanda Kramer, Qiu Jiongjiong and Yuasa Masaaki.
The IFFR will host the world premiere of two of Kramer’s films: Please Baby Please starring Andrea Riseborough, Harry Melling and Demi Moore and Give Me Pity! with Sophie von Haselberg alongside a retrospective of Kramer’s earlier works. Six films from Chinese director Qiu Jiongjiong, including his latest, A New Old Play, which won the special jury prize at the Locarno Film Festival this year, will be screened at IFFR 2022. Alongside a selection of Yuasa Masaaki’s more experimental, free-form works, Rotterdam will also screen three of his animated features: Ride Your Wave (2019), Night Is Short, Walk on Girl (2017) and Inu-Oh, which premiered at this year’s Venice Film Festival.
Rotterdam will honor Thai cinematographer Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, best known for his work with Apichatpong Weerasethakul, including the 2022 Oscar contender Memoria, with the 2022 Robby Müller Award. The prize, named after the late Dutch cinematographer of Paris, Texas (1984) and Breaking The Waves (1996), honors an outstanding “image maker” working in arthouse cinema.
Rotterdam will publish further details of industry events CineMart and the Rotterdam Lab on Dec. 16.
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