COVID-19 Forces Rotterdam Festival to Celebrate 50th Anniversary in Two Parts 

Rotterdam Film Festival
Courtesy of Rotterdam Film Festival

Rotterdam Film Festival

The long-running Dutch festival will hold its golden jubilee in February and June 2021, with a series of events in between.  

The Rotterdam Film Festival has come up with a unique way of celebrating its 50th anniversary. 

The acclaimed Dutch art-house fest, which will have its golden jubilee next year, has decided to hold two separate events —one in early February, the other in early June. Rotterdam will link the dates with a series of events. The move, announced Tuesday, is a nod to the reality that, under COVID-19, Rotterdam will unlikely be able to hold a normal physical festival in January.

The February event, from Feb. 1-7, will feature the festival's international premieres and its main competition line-up. The industry side of the festival, Rotterdam's Pro Days program, including its CineMart film market will be held online-only from Feb. 1-5. The Rotterdam Lab for project development will also be a virtual event next year, running from Jan. 25-Feb. 5, 2021.

The summer edition of the festival, set for June 2-6 in the Dutch port city, is intended as a public celebration of the Rotterdam international festival. In addition to large public screenings —assuming COVID conditions make that feasible and safe by next summer —Rotterdam intends to celebrate its 50th with stars from its storied, five-decade history, along with a collection of "fresh names and faces." 

Festival director Vanja Kaludjercic said the form of the 2021 fest would be different but that Rotterdam remains committed to delivering a "creatively audacious, mesmerizing festival, albeit one whose presentation – this year at least – will seem a little unfamiliar. The form may be different, but our program will be as thrilling and vital as ever."

The Netherlands, which has taken a more hands-off approach to COVID-19 restrictions than many of its European neighbors, recently tightened public anti-coronavirus measures amid a sharp rise in infection rates.