Rutger Wolfson, who was today confirmed as general director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam, says he doesn't plan sweeping changes for the event, now entering its 38th year.
'I don't think there will be dramatic changes,' he told ScreenDaily.com. 'The reputation for Rotterdam is that it's innovative and that's one of the reasons I'm interested to be involved. There's an interesting question now, which we discussed at the last festival, about 'What does a film festival of the 21st century look like in the changing media world'''
He continued: 'This festival is also very flexible. We can look at certain filmmakres or trends in any year. The festival won't change fundamentally but it of course will evolve and respond to developments and we will keep trying to answer that question about how film festivals will change.'
Wolfson had been temporary director of the 37th IFFR (Jan 23-Feb 3) since September 2007 while the board considered its options for a new festival head after Sandra den Hamer announced her departure in April 2007. Seasoned festival programmers and directors had been considered for the job but Wolfson was the board's choice after this year's festival ended.
Wolfson, 38, studied Art and Culture at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam and previously worked as curator of Rotterdam-based contemporary art centre Witte de With. Since 2000 he had been with Middelburg-based contemporary art centre Stichting Beeldende Kunst Middelburg, also known as De Vleeshal. He will now resign that post.
He was a member of the IFFR board from 2004 until 2007.
Wolfson said that his lack of a cinema-specific background shouldn't be an issue. 'An arts background is an arts background,' he said. '[The board] was always considering two possible profiles - one profile was with a very strong film background and network and the other profile was more like me, more of a generalist profile.'
Wolfson, and seemingly the board, were pleased with the results of the 2008 festival. 'I think it was a very good festival, I feel very lucky because I only played a small part in that. It was a very large organisation and everone put in a little extra effort with this transition year.'
The team of eight on-staff programmers will remain unchanged, he says. 'I work very very closely with them,' Wolfson said. 'I hardly selected any films but I was very involved in figuring out how to shape the programme. And that's what my role will also be in the future, of course earlier in the process. It's overviewing and directing the process of creating the artistic programme and coming up with ideas for specific threads.'
The programmers are Gertjan Zuilhof, Ludmila Cvikova, Gerwin Tamsma, Peter van Hoof, Edwin Carels and Erwin Houtenbrink; the programme advisors are Dicky Parlevliet and Juliette Jansen.
The programming team, headed by Wolfson, also consists of programme manager Rene van der Giessen and head of programme department Chris Schouten.