Rotterdam is going in for a revamp. The 38th edition of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), running 21st Jan to 1st Feb 2009, is to get a new and simplified format with three main sections - Bright Futures, Spectrum and Signals.

The overhaul comes amid criticisms in recent years that the Festival's programme has grown increasingly unwieldy and has split into too many sections. The intention now, festival organisers say, is 'to make the programme clearer and do more justice to individual films and special themes.'

All three new programme sections will be able to encompass everything from full-length films to shorts, art installations and live performances.

Bright Future is the platform for filmmakers of the future. This section will consist mainly of first or second films. The competitive part of the festival, the VPRO Tiger Awards Competition for first and second features and the Tiger Awards Competition for short films, is part of this section.

Spectrum comprises work by experienced film makers and artists. Signals is made up of a series of thematic film programmes.

Festival director Rutger Wolfson said that the shake-up of the festival came in response to 'changes that we see in the production of film and art. Now, we see much more often filmmakers and artists choosing a medium specific to the project they have in mind. We wanted to make sure that our festival structure was open enough to accommodate these developments.'

IFFR will keep its current team of programmers. Gerwin Tamsma will co-ordinate Bright Future while Gertjan Zuilhof will co-ordinate Spectrum. A new programmer, Chinlin Hsieh, has also joined the team.

Her brief is to strengthen the position of the VPRO Tiger Awards Competition within the industry.

The festival is promising extra support for Rotterdam's Tiger films.

What form this support will take is yet to be confirmed. However, rather than simply increase the prize money, Rotterdam is expected to concentrate on sales and distribution initiatives. 'The kind of films we support (in Rotterdam) have a very difficult time now in the marketplace. We want to see what practical measures we can take to allow them to have a good life,' Wolfson commented.

Wolfson also gave details of the first film selected for the 2009 competition, Blind Pig Who Wants To Fly by Indonesian film maker Edwin. This is a project that has been supported at various stages by the IFFR, both through its Hubert Bals Fund and as a participant in its coproduction market, CineMart.

On a worrying note, the long-term future of the Hubert Bals Fund (HBF), Rotterdam's initiative to support filmmakers from developing countries is yet to be resolved. It is more than two years now since the Dutch Ministry Of Foreign Affairs turned down HBF's application for funding on what appeared to be technical grounds. Wolfson said that the Ministry Of Foreign Affairs was still evaluating the Hubert Bals Fund and that its decision (on future funding) was expected later in the year.