International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) is stepping up it move into the digital future with a new scheme that will encourage audiences to help finance new films

Cinema Reloaded, which launched today (December 3), will begin by seeking funds for new movies by three directors: Alexis Dos Santos (UK/Argentina), Ho Yohang (Malaysia) and Pipilotti Rist (Switzerland). These film-makers - who all have close relationships with Rotterdam - have agreed to make short movies costing between $45,274 (€30,000) and $75,413 (€55,000).

The first part of the project will including raising finance for the film through the festival’s supporters and from film lovers around the world through a dedicated web site.( The idea is that patrons invest through the website in “coins,” which will be used to pay for the three movies. Each coin is worth $7.5 (€5).

Once production has begun, backers will be able to track their chosen project, talk to other investors and to interact with the film-maker. The films will be premiered at the 2011 festival.

“[Cinema Reloaded] is very much based on the belief that digital technologies will not replace cinema but that they will renew it,” IFFR Director Rutger Wolfson said. “It’s very much an experiment to investigate the potential of new forms of financing and distribution. Obviously, the existing models are very much under pressure and we as a festival care very much about films finding an audience. This just seems like a very obvious thing to do.”

Wolfson added that the scheme is designed to increase “interaction” between film-makers and their audiences and to make the filmmaking process more “transparent.”

IFFR will retain the Benelux DVD and theatrical rights to the film. If the experiment is a success, it will look to finance features as well as shorts through Cinema Reloaded.

The 39th International Film Festival Rotterdam runs from 27 January to 7 February 2010.