Holland's film season has kicked off with the 21st edition of the Dutch Film Festival in Utrecht (19-28 September) - opening with the tax-scheme funded feature The Cave, which had its world premiere at the World Cinema sidebar in Montreal. This year, the festival serves not only as a platform for Dutch films, but also as a launching pad for new initiatives.

Traditionally, the Dutch have always been fond of organising in guilds and unions. The film industry is no exception; several new bodies and projects are being launched in Utrecht, marking the continuing maturing process of the Dutch industry.

Dutch shorts are boosted by two announcements. The Rotterdam Film Fund showcases five shorts, which it has financed in 2000. The fund, headed by former Dutch Film Festival director Jacques van Heijningen, is calling out for new entries. It will award Euros 30,000 to each of five projects by producers/writers/directors based in Rotterdam. The 5-7 minutes shorts are to be shown in theatres and on TV.

Inspired by the success of similar initiatives in other European countries, the NFVTM (filmmakers organisation) is launching a Shorts Bureau, designed to promote the production and distribution of shorts. It intends to become a matchmakers for shorts in Holland, bringing together filmmakers, producers and distributors. One of its tools is the website www.shortfilms.nl.

Modelled on the Equity (UK) and SAG (US) unions, Dutch actors are getting organised to improve work conditions and legal guarantees. Their new union ACT is launched at an actor's conference in Utrecht this week. Founding members such as Renee Soutendijk, to whose work the festival has dedicated a retrospective, and Huub Stapel will present its members with a standard contract drawn up by solicitors of Kennedy, Van der Laan and Ernst & Young. Renee Soutendijk says "this contract offers a good starting point to negotiate with producers. Hopefully it can prevent unpleasant situations in the future." ACT is particularly concerned about working hours and ancillary rights.