International Film FestivalRotterdam (IFFR) has launched a major initiative to raise its internationalindustry profile. At AFM this week, IFFR's new head of international PR Marnixvan Wijk has been assiduously courting sellers and buyers in a bid to lure themto the Netherlands for next year's event, which takes place Jan 24 to Feb 4.

This year, for the firsttime, the festival will introduce special "industry" passes. It will besetting up a special "sales club" in the festival's main base, theDoelen. There will also be a large industry party. Meanwhile, throughout theyear, Van Wijk will be targeting the industry with newsletters, more aggressiveadvertising on-line and in the trades.

Extra funds have been setaside for the new initiatives. "It is part of the policy of the board ofthe festival to invest in working on the international profile of the festival,"Van Wijk said.

In recent years, IFFR'sgroundbreaking co-production market CineMart has spawned a host of imitators.Festivals from Berlin to Rome to Pusan now stage similar events. This week inSanta Monica, Film London announced it is to launch a co-financing market.

"The reputation of thefestival is very good," Van Wijk said. "The only difficult part isthat it (the festival) is just prior to Berlin. A lot of buyers, sellers andproducers are focused on Berlin or Sundance."

Titles that have passedthrough CineMart include Carlos Reygadas' Japon and Catherine Breillat's Old Mistress. The aim now is to ensure that CineMart titles orfilms backed by IFFR's Hubert Bals production fund will have their worldpremieres at the festival. "We're trying to change the mentality of thesales agents, producers and directors. For some films, it is better to have theworld premiere in Rotterdam rather than in a sidebar in another festival wherethey're going to be underwhelmed and won't get the attention, nourishment andcare they need."