Rotterdam Unveils 2021 Lineup

'Riders of Justice'
Courtesy of the International Film Festival Rotterdam

'Riders of Justice'

'Riders of Justice,' starring Mads Mikkelsen, will open the 50th edition of the International Rotterdam Film Festival.

The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has unveiled the competition lineup for its 50th-anniversary edition, which will run in two separate events —one virtual, one in-person—in 2021. The virtual IFFR will be held Feb. 1-7, with a summer in-person festival planned for June 2-6. 

Riders of Justice, a Danish revenge thriller from director Anders Thomas Jensen (Adam's Apples, The Green Butchers) starring Mads Mikkelsen will open IFFR 2021. Mikkelsen plays Markus, a recently deployed military man, who returns home after his wife is killed in train accident. But Markus slowly begins to suspect that foul play is involved and sets out to hunt down those responsible. Magnet Releasing, the genre arm of Magnolia Pictures, has U.S. rights to film. 

Riders of Justice will screen in Rotterdam's Limelight section, alongside such titles as Dea Kulumbegashvili's Beginning, Jasmila Zbanic's Quo vadis, Aida?, Philippe Lacote's Night of the Kings, and Andrei Konchalovsky's Dear Comrades! —the official entries for the 2021 international feature Oscar from, respectively, Georgia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Ivory Coast, and Russia—alongside such recently critical favorites as Kelly Reichardt's First Cow and Magnus von Horn's Sweat.

The main Tiger Award competition features titles from some 20 countries and includes the world premieres of Lebanon drama Agate mousse from director Selim Mourad, Queena Li's Chinese feature BipolarFriends and Strangers directed by Australia's James Vaughan, the Indian film Pebbles from Vinothraj P.S, and Feast, a local title from Dutch director Tim Leyendekker.  Karen Cinorre's Mayday, which stars Grace Van Patten, Mia Goth, and Havana Rose Liu, is the sole U.S. title in the main competition.

The competition entries will compete for the best film Tiger Award, worth €40,000 ($49,000), and two special jury awards, worth €10,000 ($12,000). The Tiger Jury for 2021 consists of filmmaker and visual artist Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, Orwa Nyrabia, the artistic director of International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the visual artist and filmmaker Hala Elkoussy, screenwriter and critic Helena van der Meulen, and film producer Ilse Hughan. 

Rotterdam's Big Screen Competition line-up, a selection that aims to bridge the gap between popular, classic, and art-house cinema, picked 15 new titles for 2021, among them world premieres from Canada (Félix Dufour-Laperrière's Archipel), Brazil (Carro Rei from Renata Pinheiro), Turkey (Baris Sarhan-directed The Cemil Show), and India (The Harbour from director Rajeev Ravi).

The Big Screen titles will compete for the VPRO Big Screen Award, voted on by the festival audience. The winning film will receive a guaranteed theatrical release in the Netherlands and will be broadcast on Dutch TV by local networks VPRO and NPO. The winning filmmaker and the local Dutch distributor will also share a €30,000 ($37,000) cash prize.

Rising coronavirus infection rates in the Netherlands forced Rotterdam to split up the 2021 festival, its 50th-anniversary event. During the Feb. 1- Feb. 7 period, Rotterdam will screen the festival's international premieres and its main competition lineup. In the summer, from June 2 until June 6, the Dutch port city will hold large public screenings —assuming COVID conditions make that feasible and safe — intended to celebrate the highlights of the festival's first half-century.

Rotterdam is one of the world's largest audience and industry-driven festivals, boasting close to 350,000 admissions and around 3,000 industry attendees in a typical year. With its focus on international art-house cinema, particularly from Asia and developing countries, the IFFR has become a key event for the global indie industry, as well as a hothouse for new talent, with the likes of Christopher Nolan, Kelly Reichardt, and South Korean auteur Hong Sang-soo among the winners of Rotterdam's Tiger Award for best film.