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2021 Rotterdam Festival reveals opening & closing films, full programme

Physical screenings will take place at cinemas in Rotterdam with limited capacities, requirements dictated by novel coronavirus regulations

The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) presented the full programme for its celebratory 50th edition at a press conference, on Saturday, where it confirmed the opening and closing films.

Mona Fastvold’s film The World to Come opens the festival on 2 June, whilst Hirota Yusuke’s Poupelle of Chimney Town marks its closure on 6 June, with on demand available until 9 June.

Due to ongoing governmental regulations, the closing chapter of the festival will now take place online and in cinemas in Rotterdam. The Big Talks segment and final film titles complete the June programme, with tickets to go on sale from 21 May.

Festival director Vanja Kaludjercic said, “I am extremely proud to share all we have in store for the closing chapter of our 50th jubilee edition.”

She added, “From 2 to 6 June, we will offer an incredibly rich and varied programme that is jam-packed with over 139 features, short and mid-length films, as well as plenty of VR projects, performances, talks, and more.”

2021 Rotterdam Festival reveals opening & closing films, full programme

She noted that there will be a wide range to choose from, from the rediscovery of arthouse classics to celebrate IFFR’s history, to the latest futuristic genre-bending TV series.

“All this in a way that captures the energy and excitement that has long been at the heart of IFFR, while adhering to the latest governmental regulations,” she said, “We are raring to go and look forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary with audiences at home and in cinemas in Rotterdam.”

The IFFR announced June’s opening film is The World to Come by Norwegian filmmaker and actress Mona Fastvold. The romantic frontier drama tells the story of a forbidden love between two women, played by Katherine Waterston and Vanessa Kirby, in 1850s Upstate New York.   The film will be shown as a timed premiere online on 2 June, to celebrate the opening of the June chapter of the festival, followed by physical screenings in Rotterdam cinemas during the festival.
The European premiere of Japanese animation Poupelle of Chimney Town, by director Hirota Yusuke, closes the expanded festival’s 50th edition. This adaptation of Nishino Akihiro’s children’s book by Studio 4°C, producers of Children of the Sea (IFFR 2020). It is an imaginative family film with the climate crisis at its heart, choosing to bring audiences together for the close of IFFR 2021.
Three Big Talks are presented in the IFFR Talks line-up in June, including a conversation with Fastvold.   German director Dominik Graf, who was honoured with a retrospective at the 2013 IFFR, is also featured alongside his latest work Fabian oder Der Gang vor die Hunde. The film is an adaptation of Kästner’s autobiographical interwar classic Fabian, which screens in the Harbour section.   The Srebrenica massacre is the topic of a Big Talk, after it was the subject of February’s BankGiro Loterij Audience Award winner Quo vadis, Aida? by director Jasmila Žbanić from Bosnia and Herzegovina.   A panel will discuss whether we can learn from past injustices, and what role art has in this, in collaboration with LUX Nijmegen and Vfonds.

Indian filmmaker Pallavi Paul also presents the Freedom Lecture, the IFFR’s annual talk organised by political and cultural centre De Balie, and will feature the topic of freedom in the broadest sense.   Paul is selected in June’s Short & Mid-length Film section for her essay on police violence in Delhi in the film The Blind Rabbit. She will take her own biography and oeuvre as the starting point for a reflection on freedom and resistance in this Freedom Lecture. Big Talks is made possible with support from vVonds, De Balie and Stichting Democratie en Media.   IFFR Classics, a programme of four iconic titles from the festival’s history, will be available online and in cinemas. The programme is comprised of New Zealand director Jane Campion’s debut Sweetie which screened at IFFR 1990, as well as American filmmaker Jim Jarmusch’s Night on Earth from IFFR 1992.    The Italian director Nanni Moretti’s film Caro diariofrom the IFFR 1995 and Japanese director Fukasaku Kinji’s Battle Royale from IFFR 2001 complete the lineup.

These titles will complement a full offering of 128 titles within the Harbour, Bright Future, Cinema Regained, and Short & Mid-length Film programmes. All feature length films are eligible for the BankGiro Loterij Audience Award, provided their first public screening took place after 1 January 2020.   The complete June film programme will be accessible online to audiences across the Netherlands. Press and Industry screenings will be more extensively available on Festival Scope Pro.   The IFFR Talks programme is accessible worldwide for free on IFFR.com. Physical screenings will take place at cinemas in Rotterdam with limited capacities and requirements dictated by novel coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations.   The IFFR offers a line-up of carefully selected fiction and documentary feature films, short films, and media art. The festival’s focus is on recent work by talented new filmmakers, with space for retrospectives and themed programmes.  

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