International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) has announced a major new focus for its next edition, Forget Africa.

Festival organisers say it will be the most extensive programme devoted to contemporary independent African film-making held at any Western film festival in recent years.

Programmer Gertjan Zuilhof has been travelling through several Central African countries to meet film-makers and to select films.  He has been accompanied by a group of non-African film-makers, who have been commissioned to make films about the region.

Directors involved with the scheme include Filipino filmmaker Khavn de la Cruz, Malaysia’s Tan Chui Mui, and American film-makers Kimi Takesue and Deborah Stratman.

The Forget Africa programme will include recent short and feature films predominantly from the sub-Saharan and Central parts of Africa.

As part of the focus, there will also be a showcase called African Market Days, which will include storyteller’s cinema, innovative re-interpretations of soundtracks by African musicians, films by hidden masters and pioneers, rare films from archives and events and live performances. It will be organised Alice Smits and Lee Ellickson, co- directors of the Amakula Kampala International Film Festival in Uganda.

“Look at the programmess of the international film festivals and it is obvious that Africa is not represented or if so only by one ore two token films,” said Zuilhof.

The 39th Edition of IFFR runs 27 January - 7 February 2010