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Clare Stewart new business director of IFFR

Earlier this year, business director Marjan van der Haar announced her departure from IFFR. It was announced yesterday that Clare Stewart will be her successor next week. Stewart has earned her spurs at numerous leading festivals, including the BFI London film festival and BFI Flare London, the British Film Institute's LGBTQIA festival; the Sheffield documentary festival and the Sydney Film Festival.

Korrie Louwes, Chair of IFFR's Supervisory Board: "Clare has unparalleled experience and an impressive track record of strategic festival leadership. In previous roles, Clare has used her unique combination of creative and business acumen to broaden audience reach, accelerate commercial success and increase the impact of those events. It is great to welcome her to the IFFR team and add her versatile and insightful leadership to our organisation."

Interestingly, the English press release reports "t's a great coup to have her join the IFFR team and bring her multifaceted and insightful leadership to our organisation." For many former employees, the past period feels like a coup, indeed. This appointment is the crowning glory of the restructuring, in which she had an advisory role. An appointment with a legacy, in other words.


Says Clare Stewart herself "IFFR is a leading global platform that creates valuable impact for independent film and filmmakers. It was the first international film festival I attended 25 years ago and IFFR is therefore close to my heart. Rotterdam is a city known for its innovation, experimentation and discovery. Traits that IFFR is already highly regarded for through its artistic programmes and activities for industry professionals. The emphasis on bold, new ideas provides a strong basis for working with Festival Director Vanja Kaludjercic on her inspiring vision for building a festival that is both agenda-setting and agile in a changing world. I look forward to working together with the talented IFFR team, the Supervisory Board and IFFR's committed partners and stakeholders to build a bright future for one of the Netherlands' true cultural tastemakers."

It is remarkable that the management and much of the programme team is not Dutch for the first time. Stewart has indicated he will live in Rotterdam, which seems like a wise decision. After all, a festival is also largely made in corridors and at the coffee machine. The geographical spread of the programme team is hard enough as it is. Besides, Rotterdam has embraced the festival, it is essential that this is reciprocal.

Old pain

To say that the International Film Festival Rotterdam has been through a difficult period is an understatement. The much-discussed cut in staff, from IT department to programme team, has left its mark. The pain and anger run deep, I noticed when I had a positive piece wrote about last edition's programming. And I understand that, and underestimated it. Working for and on a festival is not a 9-to-5 job, but a big part of your life. When that is taken away from you, it pulls the rug from under your feet.

I hope that with a new business director, things will calm down, wounds can heal and the festival can have a bright future. But , given the initial reactions, I am not sure.

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Wijbrand Schaap

Cultural journalist since 1996. Worked as theatre critic, columnist and reporter for Algemeen Dagblad, Utrechts Nieuwsblad, Rotterdams Dagblad, Parool and regional newspapers through Associated Press Services. Interviews for TheaterMaker, Theatererkrant Magazine, Ons Erfdeel, Boekman. Podcast maker, likes to experiment with new media. Culture Press is called the brainchild I gave birth to in 2009. Life partner of Suzanne Brink roommate of Edje, Fonzie and Rufus. Search and find me on Mastodon.View Author posts

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