Rotterdam Film Festival appoints new CEO

Rotterdam Film Festival appoints new CEO

Clare Stewart, former director of the BFI London Film Festival and currently managing director of Sheffield DocFest, turns Dutch, assuming the position of managing director of the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR).

Stewart will succeed Marjan van der Haar, who is leaving office, and will start on June 21 before the 54th IFFR in January next year. He joins festival director Vanja Kaludjercic in Rotterdam’s dual leadership structure, with Stewart overseeing the commercial elements of the festival and Kaludjercic the creative and programming components. Stewart served as a consultant to the IFFR Board of Directors in 2021, where she helped the festival reshape its programming structure and content strategy.

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“I am thrilled to welcome Clare to the IFFR team and to Rotterdam as she makes this incredible city her new home,” said Kaludjercic. “He brings a deep understanding of the artistic and business sides of a festival from his formidable career to date, which fits perfectly with the dual leadership dynamic we have between our two roles. About her Her passion for IFFR is undeniable and the team and I look forward to working with her for the next edition in 2024 and beyond!

Korrie Louwes, chair of the IFFR supervisory board, said Stewart has “unparalleled extensive experience in the strategic direction and true advocacy of festivals, with a track record that includes some of the most important film celebrations in the world. In previous roles, Clare has channeled her unique combination of creative understanding and business acumen to a growing audience, accelerating the commercial success and raising the profile of those events, as well as guiding them through change. It is a great coup to have her joined the IFFR team and bring her multifaceted and insightful leadership to our organization.”

Stewart said he has deep roots with IFFR, as “the first international film festival I attended 25 years ago. It has shaped my understanding of the interdependencies between cultural activity and industry development and the importance of engaging a dedicated local audience, positioning a festival as vital to the international and independent film industry.” He praised the Rotterdam festival for its his continued emphasis on “bold new ideas” and said Kaludjercic, who was named festival head in 2020 in charge of revamping the IFFR, had an “inspiring vision for building a festival that is both programmatic that responsive to change. I am thrilled to be working with the talented IFFR team, supervisory board and IFFR partners and stakeholders to create a bright future for one of the Netherlands’ true cultural assets.”

Australian Stewart was the festival director of the Sydney Film Festival from 2007 to 2011 and is credited with raising the international profile of the event. He took over the BFI London Film Festival in 2011 and ran it alongside the BFI Flare: London LGBTQIA + Film Festival until 2017, growing audiences and elevating the international standing of the events. At the BFI, she has been praised for her support of emerging talent and her drive to promote diversity and inclusion with events such as the Gender in Media and Black Star Symposia, Flare LGBTQ Mentorship and the Think Tank on accessibility.

Stewart’s first IFFR as chief executive will be the 54th festival, which runs from 25 January to 4 February 2024.