From January 25th until the 5th February, the International Film Festival Rotterdam takes place. For 26 concurrent years, the festival has held a satellite event of the same name in Groningen. More than fifty screenings will be held from the first until the fifth of February, along with related talk shows, Q&A’s and guest appearances.
With an early Netherlands premiere of ‘The Whale’ (Aaronofsky, 2023), the emotionally charged comeback of Oscar-nominated Brendan Fraser, the festival features some highly anticipated premieres and showings. Other titles include darkly comical ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ (McDonagh, 2023), an abundance of indie titles as well as a short film marathon on Thursday and a surprise movie on Sunday.
The Groningen Observer spoke to Marjolein Bos, project leader of the Satellite IFFR festival about what the festival is for and why it extends the Rotterdam event into Groningen.
“Here in Groningen we have a flourishing film Industry,” Bos says. “We want to inspire them as well and bring them together so that they can talk about movies, and meet (film)makers and ask questions.”
One of these filmmakers is Aaron Rookus, a Writer and Director who is attending the event and presenting a film this evening, who was kind enough to speak to the GO as he made his way to the city.
“I love the city. The vibrancy of the festival is good. Plus a lot of friends and family can come over.”
Rookus has been active in the industry for fourteen years. His newest picture ‘Goodbye Stranger’ (Rookus, 2023), which will have a general release on April 20th of this year, had Its world premiere screening at the IFFR on the 28th of January.
“The night was great. We worked towards it for seven years, so there was a big relief.”
Today, ‘Goodbye Stranger’ opens the Satellite festival in the Groningen Forum, followed by an opening party. Popular Dutch artist Blanks, who plays a minor role in the picture, will also be in attendance.
A celebration of the independent movie industry
Organised by Henk Klein Wassink, the International Film Festival Rotterdam promotes and encourages lesser-known cinema, experimental and independent film. He spoke to the GO about how the event had gone recently.
“The festival was a success. In the years before Covid, we had about ten thousand tickets sold.” He states. “There are many films from young and starting filmmakers in the programme”. With all of this exposure, it is easy to see its potential to encourage cultural growth.
Since 1995, the Tiger Award has been granted to up-and-coming Filmmakers, with a grand prize of 40,000 Euros to be shared between the director and producers of the winning film. Names as familiar as Christopher Nolan have won the award, which provides a boost to artists early in their careers.
“We want to make movies that can be seen in the Rotterdam festival in Groningen.” Says project leader Bos. “We really want to connect different cultures with this festival. We show a lot of films from international makers, from Iran, from China, from Europe, the Netherlands. We want to inspire local makers as well.”
Movies ‘broaden your view’
With the festival kicking off today, it tries to make us remember how film can bring us together, challenge our experience and present new ideas. “Movies build you, just like music can do. They shape your identity and broaden your view,” said Rookus, whose film follows a music curator on an odyssey across Amsterdam in search of his soul.
The spokesperson for the State Secretary for Culture, Gunay Uslu, expressed a similar sentiment. “One of the aims of State Secretary Uslu is to help artists and creators to develop their skills and talent, whether starting or later in their career. Events like the IFFR – but also Eurosonic, Noorderslag, ADE, art fairs, de Parade – play an important role in creating an environment where artists can thrive.”
“These big events exist in an international network which might help broaden the potential audience,” the spokesperson continued. “Art doesn’t stop at borders.”
The International Film Festival Rotterdam, in Groningen, runs from the 1st February until the 5th, with a deep and extensive schedule each day.