Rotterdam 2023: What The Audiences Liked Best

Editor, Europe; Rotterdam, The Netherlands (@ardvark23)
It's been a week since the International Film Festival Rotterdam had its closing party. All awards have been given, all guests have returned home, and so have the audiences. It was the first time in three years that people were able to physically visit the fest (as corona had rendered the previous festivals online-only), and visit they did: a quarter million tickets got sold. How awesome is that?

Speaking of audiences... it's nice to read what film critics think of films, but the general paying public has an opinion too, and often it differs. Films like Eo and Pacifiction were in our top-10 list of 2022, but Rotterdam audiences didn't even vote them into the festival's top-100. Critics Schmitics...

Note that audiences ratings aren't sacred though: some of my most favorite films in the past 25 years scored a 3.0, so what does the audience know? In the end, choices in art are by definition subjective, and what might hit me as awful might be entirely brilliant for everyone else (and vice versa). With that in mind, let's go to the list! So what DID Rotterdam audiences vote to the top? Here is a gallery of the top-20 in reverse order. Click on the edge of the pictures to scroll through them.

Before we go into the list, here's how people voted this year. In the past, you voted upon leaving a screening by tearing a piece of paper at the number you wanted to give to the film:

5: -very good
4: -good
3: -fair
2: -bad
1: -very bad

Those numbers haven't changed, but the method of voting has. Tickets are acquired online, and linked to an email address. After a film for which you bought a ticket has finished, you get sent an email with a link to vote, and it can only be used once for each ticket you bought. Did this change the ratings given to films? Hard to say. There may be a difference in awarding a film immediately after seeing it, or doing it the evening after.

Voting in general was generous this year. Two films got the incredible score of 4.8 out of 5. Just think: there's always that one person who gets rubbed the wrong way and gives a "1", even at a great film. You need 16 people voting a "5" to offset that vote to achieve an average of 4.8, so averages like those are pretty incredible!

And it didn't stop at those two. Every film in the top-10 scored 4.6 or higher. Out of the festival's entire program this year (250 features and shorts), 73 films got higher than a 4.0, which means there was an amazing choice of crowdpleasers.

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