In a surprise move, the Board of the International Film Festival Rotterdam has appointed Rutger Wolfson as director of the forthcoming January 2008 edition.

However, the 37-year-old Wolfson will be doing the job on a part-time basis and his appointment is for one year only.

While overseeing IFFR, Wolfson will also remain in his present job as director of De Vleeshal, a centre for contemporary art in Middelburg, The Netherlands. The festival board has also appointed Stef Fleischeuer for the same period and also part time as interim business director.

The appointment of Wolfson comes in the wake of former festival director's Sandra den Hamer departure to the Filmmuseum in Amsterdam. Speaking to ScreenDaily.Com, Wolfson confirmed that he will only be in the post for the 2008 edition. However, he said that the Board has given him full authority to oversee the Festival.

'I am very enthusasitic and glad to do this festival, but this festival only,' he said.
Wolfson confirmed that the Board is still looking for a long-term replacement to Den Hamer.

'The Board was looking for a director with a strong profile in film connoisseurship and also someone with a very strong international network,' Wolfson said. 'This person was very hard to find at such short notice and so they have asked me for this festival.'

Wolfson's background is in visual arts. Since 2000, has been director of the Stichting Beeldende Kunst Middelburg (De Vleeshal). However, he was a member of the board of the International Film Festival Rotterdam from 2004 until recently, and knows Rotterdam intimately.

'I know the Festival as well as you can know it without really phsyically working there,' he said.

'Of course, continuity is one of the most important things for a film festival and I am convinced we have that continuity well in place,' Wolfson added. He also expressed his confidence that Rotterdam's prestigious Hubert Bals Fund will continue to receive Government financing.

As he gets to grips with his new job, Wolfson has decided not to attend the Toronto Festival this week but to stay in Holland. 'I am sure I will be traveling at some point but at the moment, I want to really familiarise myself with where we stand,' he said.

'The Festival has grown enormously and as a consequence has also become a little bit unoverseeable. I think there is room for improvement there. I think and hope that I can contribute to that,' Wolfson and Fleischeuer will help steer the festival through the approaching Culture White Paper and the consultation already under way with the City of Rotterdam concerning new accommodation for the festival and the Festival office.

The 37th International Film Festival Rotterdam runs from January 23 to February 3, 2008.