Early in my career as a film programmer and curator my time at IFF Rotterdam (IFFR) was an inspiring period. In addition to my research and curatorial work on special programs, I was also also member of the Hubert Bals Fund committee and actively instigated projects for the CineMart . Both the Hubert Bals Fund and CineMart are an integral part of IFFR and play a vital role for the festival as well as for filmmakers all over the world.
During my fifteen years at IFFR, I organized retrospectives (see below) and invited some of my favorite filmmakers. To name just a few: Goran Markovic, Jan Svankmajer, Alexander Sokurov, Alexei Balabanov, Carlos Reygadas, Yevgeni Yufit, Cristian Mungiu, Svetlana Proskurina, Larisa Sadilova, Viktor Sukhorukov, Harutyun Khachatryan, Lee Chang Dong, Harutyun Khachatryan, Jafar Panahi and Abbas Kiarostami, Béla Tarr, Kornel Mundruczó, and others.
In my period at IFFR worked for or with different directors: Emile Fallaux (during my university studies), Simon Field, Sandra den Hamer (now CEO of EYE Film Institute in Amsterdam) and Rutger Wolfson.
I joined the staff of IFFR after a few years of work experience at the film theatre Kriterion in Amsterdam. Since its establishment in 1945 it was mostly run by students, from the 1980s entirely. From film programming, selling tickets, projecting films, working behind the bar and even renovating the building – we did it all. We had a great working spirit, shared a passion for film and experienced camaraderie.
For me personally, this was the beginning of my passion for film programming: I initiated and (together with my colleagues) organized a unique and complete retrospective of the works of Czechoslovak Nouvelle Vague director Vera Chytilova (1929-2014). We were proud to welcome the director in person and show as the opening film the one and only (student) short in which she acted.
I joined IFFR in January 1997, first as programme advisor, later as programmer, and stayed until June 2011.
Initially, my region to research and select films from were Eastern Europe and ex-Soviet Union countries. Later on it expanded to Iran, Turkey, Greece and the Middle East.
In 1999, I organised an overview of Eastern European films under the title After the Fall Of the Wall. The aim of this overview was to look closely at the situation ten years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Within the framework of IFFR, in 2001 I’ve organised an exhibition of the Czech surrealist filmmaker, artist and writer Jan Švankmajer at the Chabot Museum in Rotterdam. Another exhibition, co-organized with the Czech Centre in Rotterdam, followed in 2010.
Critic’s Talk between Robert Gray and Jan Svankmajer can be found here: https://www.iffr.com/professionals/iffr-2011/critics-talks/critics-talk-jan-svankmajer/
In 2004, I was curator of the special programme Once We Were Birds: Romani Cinema – a programme that aimed to show the rich Romani culture – and especially explore their film culture – within Europe. This was accompanied by music events and in later years was taken over by other film festivals: Zagreb, Austria, London, Melbourne and in April 2007 in Rome.
In 2005, I curated two special programmes: the retrospective of Yevgeni Yufit, Russian filmmaker and founder of Necrorealism, and Near Past and Near Future: Russian Parallel Cinema, the latter together with Russian film critic Andrei Plakhov.
In 2009, after a few years of international success of films of up and coming filmmakers from Turkey, I curated an overview of this development in the special programme Young Turkish Cinema. It was accompanied by debates and other events, you can read more about it in the article of film critic Howard Feinstein here: http://www.indiewire.com/article/young_turks_at_rotterdam_fest
Perhaps one of the most successful- if not the most successful – special programmes curated by me was the one about Red Westerns – the last one I curated for IFFR in 2011.
In 2011 I was invited to become Head Of Film Programming at Doha Film Institute in Qatar and accepted this new challenge:
(For more info about my activities at DFI, please click on the DFI’s logo in the menu)
I came back to work for IFFR once again, just a few months after I left the festival but this time as one of the 2012 Hivos Tiger Award jury members, where I enjoyed the company of my jury colleagues:
Eric Khoo, director and producer from Singapore; Tine Fischer, festival director of CPH-DOX in Denmark; Israeli filmmaker Samuel Maoz (Golden Lion winner Lebanon), Helena Ignez P. de Mello e Silva, Brazilian actress and filmmaker.
As steadfast supporter of more international cinematic exchange, I also advised and worked for various film festivals: Karlovy Vary IFF in Czech Republic, Locarno IFF in Switzerland, Golden Apricot IFF inYerevan (see a separate chapter) , Sarajevo IFF in Bosna&Herzegovina, Anonimul IFF in Romania (see a separate chapter).
For more info about my travels and research at IFFR, please look at Ludmila Cvikova blogging @ IFFR: