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Rotterdam at Cannes

cinemartCannes doesn't live in a bubble - and neither do other festivals. Just as this festival started, the Rotterdam Film Festival (IFFR) in the Netherlands sent word of a number of films in Cannes whose directors have received support from the Rotterdam festival in one of two ways: The Hubert Bals Fund and the Rotterdam Cinemart.

The Hubert Bals fund began in 1989, a year after the death of Hubert Bals who founded IFFR in 1972. Created to support filmmaking in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, it currently has an annual budget of approximately €1 million. These funds are allocated to script development, post-production and distribution and anyone from new to established filmmakers can apply. This flows seamlessly with the mission of IFFR, since in their programming for the International Film Festival Rotterdam they do put an emphasis on films from what they call "South" - a much more appropriate phrase than what used to be referred to as "Third World."

Watch the end credits for any number of films from these areas of the world and you will see the Hubert Bals Fund logo. Their reach is far and wide in the international filmmaking community. In Cannes this year Los Salvajes, by Alejandro Fadel of Brazil in the Critics' Week, received post-production funds, while La Playa DC (directed by  Juan Andrés Arango) in Un Certain Regard and Villegas by Gonzalo Tobal (mentioned previously in a special screening out of competition) received development support from the Fund.

Marit van den Elshout, head of industry at Rotterdam, told me via email the importance of other festivals, especially Cannes, to the work of the Fund: "For us it is great to see the filmmakers that we have supported in the start of their career or project succeeding," she said. She added, "with the Hubert Bals Fund we can invest in a project in a very early stage when for other financiers it is difficult to commit. It can then work as a motivation to find other financing."

The CineMart idea began 30 years ago. Back then it was a means for Hubert Bals' friends who were filmmakers to show works in progress to potential financiers and distributors. Now the CineMart model is copied by festivals all over the world. And it has become the world’s largest film co-production market for low and medium-budget projects

This year alone, Carlos Reygadas (Post Tenebras Lux) and Sergei Loznitsa (In the Fog) went through the doors of the CineMart for financing, and both of their films are here in Cannes in the official competition. To van den Elshout, their appearance in Cannes is clear. "If these films end up in Cannes Competition we have done something right," she said. "These selections also contribute to the international visibility of both the Hubert Bals Fund and CineMart."

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