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Rotterdam Fest Limits Growth And Gains Pix

A record number of films – 314 – were screened at 13 cinemas at the 20th Rotterdam Film Festival, held Jan. 24 to Feb. 3.

At the same time, attendance and B.O. grosses dropped. Fest directors said they had tried to limit growth because SRO shows had become the standard. They say they’ve succeeded in “stabilizing” attendance, which went from 175,000 last year to 150,000 (however, this year the board says the counting system was more accurate).

The boxoffice gross in 1990 was 425,000 guilders ($255,000). This year the boxoffice fell 6% to 400,000 guilders ($240,000).

Bogdanovich bows out

There also was some negative influence from the Persian Gulf war, particularly regarding media attention and U.S. presence. Director Peter Bogdanovich, who was to present “Texasville,” was urged by current employer Touchstone and its insurance company to cancel his visit to Holland.

However, 76 foreign scribes and 460 other guests did show, among them Dennis Hopper, Jon Jost, Seijun Suzuki, Robby Muller, Menahem Golan and some 30 Soviet filmmakers, including Aleksandr Sokurov, Alexei Gherman and Kira Muratova.

Of the 314 items – easily beating last year’s 200 – 95 were feature films, about 75 were shorts and the rest were older pics in two retrospectives. There was an unspecified number of videotapes.

The fest gives two press awards, both of which went to Sokurov. International Fipresci jury singled out his feature film “The Second Circle.” The Dutch critics’ prize went to Sokurov’s short documentaries “Elegy” and “Simple Elegy.”

During Cinemart, the market section, Menahem Golan offered to produce Gherman’s next film, and negotiations have started between Rotterdam-based Credit Lyonnais Bank Nederland and the Lenfilm Studio in Leningrad on establishing a credit line.

Fax war

A war of faxes broke out between the Rotterdam fest and the Berlin Forum (to start Feb. 15) over the right to show some eagerly awaited pictures in their European premieres. Rotterdam snatched “The Second Circle” from Berlin selector Ulrich Gregor, as well as Yvonne Rainer’s “Privilege” and some others, but it had to concede Jon Jost’s “Surefire” to Berlin.

Rotterdam program also included extensive retrospectives on Nicholas Ray and his contemporaries, and on Japanese B directors.

Other highlights were the world preem of the restored print of “Chang” (the 1927 prequel to “King Kong”) and Sokurov’s complete 16-part, 13-hour-plus documentary “Leningradskaya Retrospectiva 1957 To 1990.”

Audience faves

Audience favorites turned out to be Jane Campion’s “An Angel At My Table” from New Zealand and Frank Borzage’s silent pic “Lucky Star” (1929), starring Janet Gaynor and Charles Farrell, recently discovered and restored by the Netherlands Filmmuseum Archive.

Rumors buzz at fest

Fest was buzzing with rumors on the imminent departure of topper Marco Muller to the Locarno festival, replacing David Streif after this year’s edition. Guest of honor Sokurov even went as far as publicly regretting Mutter’s leaving, calling him “the most educated and informed festival chief around.”

Muller denied that he had signed a contract with the Swiss festival and said he would make up his mind later.

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