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"Gay-label? IFFR oozes with inclusivity."

by Teun Botterweg
Interview, Film


The 46th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam will take off at the end of January. 
GayRotterdam editors Marije Hammel and Teun Botterweg had a chat with Bero Beyer, the Festival Director of the IFFR. Bero narrates about the festival, the perspectives, the special films and about his vision of a specific gay programming.

Well, to get straight to the point: IFFR is very much alive in the LGBT-scene. Why does IFFR not have a gay label for their gay-films?
Bero: "We are regularly asked whether we have a separate label for LGBT movies. But inclusivity oozes from IFFR and I would find it a pity if I would need to stick a special label to that. That would really pigeonhole the festival, in my opinion. Mostly the LGBT component is just the part of a film narrative because it belongs there. Our films are not specifically selected for the LGBT target group, because that target group is our festival. Everybody must be celebrated! For example, take the film 'Moonlight'. Moonlight is really a marvellous film about a coloured man and his relationship with the crack dealer of his mother. An outstanding movie that one must have seen. But do we need to tag it as a gay-movie? There are movies that I can just recommend, like 'Rester Verticale'. This is a very strong movie about a man who needs to raise his child by himself when his girlfriend breaks up with him. However, that one does not have a gay theme. The point is, that we strengthen each other's 'point of view'. Everybody needs to feel welcome here. It feels wonderful once you realise that this celebration is more than a series of films and more than just a couple of guests".

The IFFR banners.

The theme of IFFR this year is 'Parallax Views'. What's behind that?
Bero: "In fact "Parallax Views" is a very broad theme, as you can see on our website. It is about observing yourself, who you are, and how you should be able to express yourself. They are colliding visions that provide new perspectives. That is why we also introduced the four different categories 'Bright Future', 'Voices', 'Deep Focus', and 'Perspectives', that allow you to have a look from different angles, so you can see the whole picture. The four categories are in fact valid for all film festivals, and they each have different colour schemes to differentiate them.

With 'Parallax Views' we want to provide a platform for film makers, thinkers, and media to open discussions about today's societal and political changes. Our modest analysis shows that the world today is enormously polarised. Taking that into account, our theme, 'Parallax Views' is just what's needed. You need to observe something from various directions, otherwise you can't see the depth. The movies we selected fit perfectly into that. The film makers whom we generally expose, show original work. They already have the kind of enthusiasm that we love. Very often the form and content is the same, however, with a feeling of social commitment. That's where we wish to head with IFFR.

On the festival we also screen films that just work differently. They take the opposite direction. The public, by looking at series, is trained and need less hints to follow a story. For example take 'Knife in the clear water', a film about a Muslim community in a tiny corner of China. In this picture you follow an old man preparing for his own decease. You see how people keep to their own simple rituals and how they cope with the harsh nature. You learn what a ritual means in its essence. It is a beautiful film, but not suitable for everyone"

The Tiger Awards held at IFFR.

Walking down the streets in Rotterdam, we see posters with 'Welcome to planet IFFR'. What is that all about?
Bero: "Right! Our communication concept to the outside world. On Planet IFFR everybody is welcome, either visitor or filmmaker, tourists or passers-by, or film fanatics. Everybody is free to explore the planet, into all directions. Planet IFFR is a lively, joyful and sometimes confusing destination. Here, film dictates the rhythm of the day. On Planet IFFR you visit unknown regions and you escape the daily reality from your cinema seat. Meet people, talk and discuss with other visitors, film freaks or professionals who often come from far away. On Planet IFFR we explore a state of existence in which we see and experience things in togetherness. Without walls, borders or passport control".

We were told that King Willem Alexander will give his presence to one of the films?
Bero: "That is correct, and we are very happy with that. Double Play (by Ernest Dickerson, the filming of the book 'Dubbelspel' by the famous writer Frank Martinus Arion from Curaçao) will have its world premiere during IFFR. Nobody knows more of Curaçao that someone who is originated from there, so Double Play will give a very authentic picture of the island. That makes the film much warmer, but also more critical in content. Not just everyone can do that. But, the warmth and the appreciation is then in fact more intense. When making a film about your own country you can be much harder, but also talk with more warmth. King Willem Alexander is coming to emphasize that".

Are there plans for the future of the Festival?
Bero: "We have been thinking about also screening during the summer, because with this explosion of cinematographic deliciousness you can't wait a full year. Cinema does not come to a halt and there is a permanent need for it. I also wish that we can call IFFR 'our party'. IFFR is created for everybody and we want that everybody feels welcome on this party".



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Film producer Bero Beyer, known for 'Paradise Now', 'Ford Transit' and 'The Salt Of His Sea', became the festival director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2015. For more information about Bero and his works, have a look at his IMDb.