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International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) will open on Jan. 25 with “Munch,” Henrik Martin Dahlsbakken’s take on the Norwegian artist behind “The Scream.”

“Bringing to life the inner world of such a complex character has been a very rewarding experience. We are thrilled to show audiences what inspired [Edvard] Munch and what kept his inner flame alive,” noted the helmer.

Produced by The Film Company and sold internationally by Viaplay Content Distribution, it will premiere in Norwegian cinemas on Jan. 27 and on Viaplay on March 24.

IFFR, set to return for its first full-scale physical edition since the pandemic, will present 16 films in its flagship Tiger Competition. Jurors Sabrina Baracetti, Lav Diaz, Anisia Uzeyman, Christine Vachon and Alonso Díaz de la Vega will grant three prizes: the Tiger Award, worth €40,000, and two Special Jury Awards, worth €10,000 each.

Ukraine’s Philip Sotnychenko “La Palisiada,” “New Strains” by Artemis Shaw and Prashanth Kamalakanthan, and Amir Toodehroosta’s “Numb” are among the lineup, as well as “Indivision” by Leïla Kilani and “Le spectre de Boko Haram,” directed by Cyrielle Raingou.

Karim Kassem, recently lauded for “Octopus,” will present “Thiiird” and Georden West – “Playland,” fresh off its presentation at American Film Festival’s U.S. in Progress.

In the Big Screen Competition, the fest will also welcome the likes of Jessica Woodworth, premiering “Luka,” Finland’s Selma Vilhunen, expected to raise a few laughs with “Four Little Adults,” as well as South Korean sports film “One Win,” starring “Parasite’s” Song Kang-ho.

“An exciting festival is about to happen. When I look at these titles, they really reflect the idea of expanding and diversifying. They reflect who we are as a team and what we stand for,” festival director Vanja Kaludjercic told Variety.

Introducing new names to a much wider audience will remain IFFR’s priority, however, with retrospectives of Hungary’s Judit Elek, Japanese animator Yuasa Masaaki, American interdisciplinary artist Stanya Kahn and expanded cinema project arc also planned.

“They deserve to be recognised on a global stage and we are delighted to introduce them to future fans, but their work speaks for itself and we are proud to present it,” she added.

“We are never going to have a retrospective of, say, Jean-Luc Godard. We want to focus on artists and filmmakers that we feel deserve more attention. We dig deeper where others don’t look.”

The event is hoping to bring in more animation fans during its 52nd edition, said Kaludjercic.

“When Yuasa Masaaki shows up, he is like Timothée Chalamet: his fans scream and queue for autographs. But when you look at big festivals, animation is a rare occurrence and it really shouldn’t be. We want to show how varied it can be,” she said, also mentioning the likes of Chris Huang Wen-chang’s “DEMIGOD: The Legend Begins” and Pierre Földes’ “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.”

Asian cinema will enjoy a significant presence during the event, as well as African and Middle Eastern titles.

“In the past few years, we haven’t seen a showing of titles from Africa as strong as this – quite the contrary,” noted Kaludjercic.

Steve McQueen’s “Sunshine State” (Courtesy of Steve McQueen, Thomas Dane Gallery, Marian Goodman Gallery and Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan. Photo: Agostino Osio.” A Commission for International Film Festival Rotterdam, 2022)

The festival will also focus on India, with Varun Grover’s “All India Rank” selected as the closing film and The Shape of Things to Come? section dissecting the ascent of right-wing Hindu-nationalist groups.

“Whether it’s organized religion or fabricated belief, such as QAnon, it can be used as a form of oppression all over the world. Its consequences, and what it does to people, are pretty much the same,” she says.

“The reason why we decided to [explore this issue] was because it hasn’t really been portrayed yet. It has slipped through the cracks.”

The Robby Müller Award will go to French cinematographer Hélène Louvart, known for Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter” and Eliza Hittman’s “Never Rarely Sometimes Always.” The festival will also present “Sunshine State,” Steve McQueen’s much-anticipated artwork commissioned by IFFR in collaboration with Depot Boijmans Van Beuningen.

“Right now, we are so focused [on our work] we are not even saying: ‘Oh, this big celebration is finally about to happen.’ But yes, it will certainly feel like one,” said Kaludjercic. “We have been waiting for a very long time.”

Tiger Competition 2023 Selection

100 årstider, Giovanni Bucchieri, 2022, Sweden
Gagaland, Teng Yuhan, 2023, China
Geology of Separation, Yosr Gasmi, Mauro Mazzocchi, 2023, Tunisia, Italy, France
Indivision, Leïla Kilani, 2023, Morocco, France
Letzter Abend, Lukas Nathrath, 2023, Germany
Mannvirki, Gústav Geir Bollason, 2023, Iceland, France
Munnel, Visakesa Chandrasekaram, 2023, Sri Lanka
New Strains, Artemis Shaw, Prashanth Kamalakanthan, 2023, United States
Notas sobre un verano, Diego Llorente, 2023, Spain
Numb, Amir Toodehroosta, 2023, Iran
Nummer achttien, Guido van der Werve, 2022, Netherlands
La Palisiada, Philip Sotnychenko, 2023, Ukraine
Playland, Georden West, 2023, United States
Le spectre de Boko Haram, Cyrielle Raingou, 2023, Cameroon, France
Thiiird, Karim Kassem, 2023, Lebanon
three sparks, Naomi Uman, 2023, Albania, Mexico

Big Screen Competition

Avant l’effondrement, Alice Zeniter, Benoît Volnais, 2023, France
Before the Buzzards Arrive, Jonás N. Díaz, 2023, Mexico
Copenhagen Does Not Exist, Martin Skovbjerg, 2023, Denmark
Drawing Lots, Zaza Khalvashi, Tamta Khalvashi, 2023, Georgia
Endless Borders, Abbas Amini, 2023, Czech Republic, Germany, Iran
Le formiche di Mida, Edgar Honetschläger, 2023, Austria, Italy
Four Little Adults, Selma Vilhunen, 2023, Finland
La hembrita, Laura Amelia Guzmán Conde, 2023, Dominican Republic
Joram, Devashish Makhija, 2022, India
Luka, Jessica Woodworth, 2023, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Armenia
My Little Nighttime Secret, Natalya Meshchaninova, 2023, Russia
Não Sou Nada – The Nothingness Club, Edgar Pêra, 2023, Portugal
Okiku and the World, Sakamoto Junji, 2023, Japan
One Win, Shin Yeon-Shick, 2023, South Korea
La Sudestada, Daniel Casabé, Edgardo Dieleke, 2022, Argentina
Voyages en Italie, Sophie Letourneur, 2023, France

Ammodo Tiger Short Competition

Aqueronte, Manuel Muñoz Rivas, 2023, Spain
Blinded by Centuries, Parinda Mai, 2023, Thailand, United States
Delivery Dancer’s Sphere, Kim Ayoung, 2023, South Korea
Fälle, Mischa Hedinger, Michela Flück, 2023, Switzerland
From Voice to Pulse, Zeno van den Broek, 2023, Netherlands
La Grande Arche, Camille Authouart, 2023, France
I Can See the Sun but I Can’t Feel It Yet, Joseph Wilson, 2023, United Kingdom
Last Days of Summer, Stenzin Tankong, 2023, India, France
Light of Light, Neritan Zinxhiria, 2023, Greece
Natureza humana, Mónica Lima, 2023, Portugal, Germany
Never Come Back, Assaf Gruber, 2023, Austria
Pátio do Carrasco, André Gil Mata, 2023, Portugal
Phalène, Sarah-Anaïs Desbenoit, 2023, France
Pure Land, Tenzin Phuntsog, 2022, United States
Night and Fear, Lipika Singh Darai, 2023, India
Remendo, Roger Ghil, 2023, Brazil
Repetitions, Morgan Alaric Quaintance, 2023, United Kingdom
Shabnam, Reetu Sattar, 2023, Bangladesh
Skin in the Crosswinds, Andrew Rubin, 2023, United States
Square the Circle, Hanna Hovitie, 2023, Finland
Theta, Lawrence Lek, 2023, United Kingdom
Tito, Kerven Jimenez, Taylor McIntosh, 2023, Haiti
What the Soil Remembers, José Cardoso, 2023, South Africa, Ecuador
Zabriskie Point, Cho Seoungho, 2023, United States