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Rotterdam Festival audience chooses SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and TEZA

On Saturday evening, 31 January, the audience awards were announced in the Grand Auditorium of the Doelen in Rotterdam. The KPN Audience Award went to SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE by Danny Boyle and co-director Loveleen Tandan. The Dioraphte Award for Hubert Bals Fund film held in highest regard went to the film TEZA by the Ethiopian film maker Haile Gerima.
The IFFR counted 341,000 visitors to the films, exhibitions, live shows and events, including the 8,000 film lovers who attend the fully booked Volkskrant day on Sunday 1 February 2009. The 39th International Film Festival Rotterdam will take place from Wednesday 27 January to Sunday 7 February 2010.

SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE was most highly regarded by festival audiences, beating other festival favourites including the intense Norwegian drama TROUBLED WATER. The KPN Audience Award comprises the sum of €7,500. SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, also given the MovieSquad Award by the youth jury, will be released on 12 February into Dutch cinemas. The top 10 films regarded most highly also included the penetrating documentary FIXER: THE TAKING OF AJMAL NAQSHBANDI about war journalism in Afghanistan and THE KARAMAZOVS, in which an excellent Dostoevsky performed by the actors of the Dejvicke Theatre in Prague was filmed by Petr Zelenka.
TEZA by Haile Gerima was given the Dioraphte Award (€10,000) by the festival audience for the most highly regarded film made with a contribution from the Hubert Bals Fund. TEZA is an epic about the turbulent recent history of Ethiopia, seen from the perspective of a politically moderate intellectual who tries to maintain his integrity in barbaric conditions.

In the Rotterdam Schouwburg, on Friday evening 30 January 2009, the three VPRO Tiger Awards were awarded to BE CALM AND COUNT TO SEVEN (ARAM BASH VA TA HAFT BESHMAR) by Ramtin Lavafipour (Iran), BREATHLESS (DDONGPARI) by Yang Ik-June (South Korea) and WRONG ROSARY (UZAK IHTIMAL) by Mahmut Fazil Coskun (Turkey). BE CALM AND COUNT TO SEVEN was partly made with a contribution from the Hubert Bals Fund. THE LAND (DADI) by He Jia (China, 2008) was given the NETPAC Award for the best Asian film. The winner of the FIPRESCI Award is BLIND PIG WHO WANTS TO FLY (BABI BUTA YANG INGIN TERBANG) by Edwin (Indonesia, 2008), selected for the 2009 VPRO Tiger Awards Competition. The winner of the KNF Award is TONY MANERO with Pablo Larraín (Chile/Brazil, 2008).

In the 38th edition, festival audiences as well as film professionals and journalists attending showed a great interest in Asian, Russian and Turkish films and film makers. From Russia, Alexei Balabanov, Andrey Khrzhanovsky and Alexey German Jr. came over. Balabanov’s MORPHIA was one of the most widely discussed films at this festival. The same also applied for the Turkish films: WRONG ROSARY won one of the three VPRO Tiger Awards and the theme programme Young Turkish Cinema received a lot of attention. De ‘Urban Screen’ projections of the films commissioned by the Rotterdam film festival from Guy Maddin & Isabella Rossellini, Nanouk Leopold & Daan Emmen and Carlos Reygadas received a lot of attention from festival visitors and passersby. In the documentary part of the festival, there was a great deal of interest in Ian Olds’ FIXER: THE TAKING OF AJMAL NAQSHBANDI, AGRARIAN UTOPIA by Uruphong Raksasad, RERBERG AND TARKOVSKY. THE REVERSE SIDE OF 'STALKER' by Igor Maiboroda and BABAJI, AN INDIAN LOVE STORY by Jiska Rickels.

The retrospective programme dedicated to the oeuvres of Skolimowski, Benvenuti and Liechti was highly regarded. For the first time, the works of Paolo Benvenuti could be seen together; the films of Jerzy Skolimowski attracted mass audiences and Peter Liechti’s latest film THE SOUND OF INSECTS - RECORD OF A MUMMY was bought by the Dutch Filmmuseum for distribution in the Netherlands.

The special attention that the IFFR focused on the ‘short features’ – 39 films lasting between 30 and 60 minutes were shown – was reflected in the choice of the jury of the Tiger Awards Competition for short film: A NECESSARY MUSIC by Beatrice Gibson (United Kingdom), DESPAIR (OTCHAJANIE) by Galina Myznikova & Sergey Provorov (Russia) and BERNADETTE by Duncan Campbell (United Kingdom) all fall into this category that is acquiring increasing interest.

While the festival programme included a record harvest of 33 new films partly made with a contribution from the Hubert Bals Fund, CineMart also looks back on a very successful edition with the same number of CineMart guests giving fewer projects more attention. The small art-house projects were especially able to profit from this. CineMart has taken an inspiring new direction with the selection of the innovative cross-media project HIM by Lance Weiler (US) – which was given the Arte France Cinéma Award; during the CineMart there was a debate about the rapid growth of DIY distribution strategies.

38th International Film Festival Rotterdam in figures:

Total number of visits: 341,000 (2008: 355,000)

Total number of unique visitors to festival website: 292,000 (2008: 294,300)
Page views during festival period: 2,600,000 (2008: 2,890,000)

Number of festival guests: 2,128 (2008: 2,799)
Number of festival guests from The Netherlands: 710 (2008: 921)
Number of international festival guests: 1418 (2007: 1878)

Number of attending filmmakers, visual and performing artists: 295 (2007: 350)

Total number of journalists: 357 (2008: 458)
Total number of international journalists: 149 (2007: 190)
Total number of journalists from the Netherlands: 208 (2007: 268)

Total number of CineMart guests: 790 (2008: 830)
Total number of international CineMart guests: 605
Total number of CineMart guests from The Netherlands: 185

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