The second edition of the festivals’ hugely ambitious, border crossing IFFR Live launched on Friday with a showing of Leyla Bound’s As I Open My Eyes in 46 screens across 17 countries. 

“That’s only the cinema part,” explained project leader Melissa Van der Schoor.  The film was also available online via Festival Scope.

After the screening, questions rained in via social media. They came in Serbian and Slovenian as well as English. There was a live musical performance from the actresses in the film.

Over the rest of the weekend, four further IFFR Live screenings are being held. There were two on Saturday: the world premiere of The Model by Mads Matthiessen and the international premiere of Préjudice,by Antoine Cuypers.

Today (Sunday) sees the event round off with La Novia, an adaptation of Federico García Lorca’s play Blood Wedding by Paula Ortiz, and Jonas Selberg Augustsén’s feature debut The Garbage Helicopter.

Van der Schoor is anticipating audiences of several thousand for the IFFR Live screenings. The aim now is to expand the initiative. IFFR Live is already working with the Black Movie Festival, which is happening in Switzerland now.

Sales agents welcome the event. Those aboard this year are TrustNordisk, Fortissimo, Les Films Du Losange, Doc & Film and Bob Film Sweden.

“It is really an alternative way of distributing a film. It also opens up territories where they might not yet have a distributor in place,” van der Schoor explained the lure of IFFR Live for sales agents.

The event creates a buzz and a sense of expectation around films that a one-off screening in a single venue could never hope to match.

But this is not a cheap event to stage. IFFR Live has received backing of around €280,000 from the EU’s Creative Europe Programme. The sales agents share in the revenues from the screenings of their films and the VOD sales.

Thanks to the initiative, audiences everywhere from Dundee and Manchester in the UK to Brussels and Berlin are all able to participate in IFFR. 

Other festivals already taking part include New Horizons in Poland and IFFR sister event in Curacao.

“We are also looking into ways we can do this throughout the year. We don’t have anything concrete just yet but it’s definitely something we are talking about with other festivals.”

The idea would be for other festivals to hold their own “Live” screenings and for IFFR to join in.

In the long run, van der Schoor would be keen to extend IFFR Live across time zones and into Asia and Latin America. 

IFFR Live has already reached the Caribbean. Today, Curaçao International Film Festival Rotterdam will be one of the venues screening La Novia/The Bride.