Rotterdam has upped the ante for its 2008 festival, asking main sponsor, Dutch broadcaster VPRO, to raise the total prize money for the Tiger Awards to $65,800 (Euros 45,000), or $21,932 (Euros 15,000) to each of the three winners. That's up from $14,620 (Euros 10,000) each last year, or a total of $43,683 (Euros 30,000).

The festival said 'it is important for the IFFR to strengthen its position by offering more money.' The Tiger Awards are only open to first or second films, and an international jury chooses the three winners. The full list of competitors hasn't yet been announced.

In other news, Rotterdam has revealed that its 2008 programme will include several new films by Dutch film-makers. Those selections are Mirjam van Veelen's Megumi, about a Japanese girl abducted and taken to North Korea; BarBara Hanlo's The Marsh (Het Moeras), a world premiere; Froukje Tan's debut feature Links (backed by the Long Rotterdam initiative); and Rolf vn Eijk's short fiction project Sky Over Holland (Hemel Over Holland), about the murder of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh.

IFFR 2008 will host a Film Maker In Focus tribute to Japan's Kobayashi Masahiro. The festival will screen his 10 films, including Closing Time, The Rebirth, Man Walking On Snow and Bashing.

Rotterdam's short film programme, Short: As Long As It Takes will run Jan 24-28. The Short Profiles section will honour Jani Ruscica, Rania Stephan, and Makino Takashi.

The Exploding Cinema programme will include art exhibitions 3Radicals curated by Edwin Carels (with work from Paul Sharits, Robert Breer and Cameron Jamie); and New Dragon Inns compiled by Gertjan Zuilhof (with work from Wang Bing, Tsai Ming-liang and Apichatpong Weerasethakul). Bing's contribution to the exhibition is The Journal Of Crude Oil, a 70-hour documentary project about Chinese oil drilling backed by Rotterdam's Hubert Bals Fund.

In other Rotterdam sections, Cinema Regained will have the theme Rediscovering The Fourth Generation, curated by Shelly Kraicer and Gerwin Tamsma, about Chinese cinema from 1978-1989; and Time & Tide will present recent 'Hinglish' films from India including works from Dev Benegal, Ram Madhavani and Parto Sen Gupta.

IFFR runs Jan 23-Feb 3, 2008.