Hot topic at this week’s Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht will be how the industry can cope with government cuts.

Senior figures in the Dutch industry are calling for the establishment of regional film funds in the Netherlands, Netherlands Film Fund chief Doreen Boonekamp has confirmed.

Their lobbying for such funds comes in the wake of major cuts in public funding for the film sector. During Cannes this year, it emerged that State Secretary for Culture Halbe Zijlstra had been advised by the Arts Council to cut back nearly 30% in public spending on film.

Questions of how the industry will cope in the face of the Government cuts are bound to be raised this week at the country’s main national film festival, The Netherlands Film Festival (running Sept 21-30.)

Lead agency The Netherlands Film Fund is expected to be operating on new budget in 2013 of €28.8 million a year, down from €37m a year (a 22.5% decrease). As its budget shrinks, the Fund has also been given extra responsibilities.

“That’s far too little. When you compare it to other countries, we are very much behind,” said Boonekamp.

The Fund recently commissioned research from Peaceful Fish into different European models of film financing support.

Some producers believe as many as three regional funds could be set up, one in the south, one in the middle and one in the north. If these funds are set up, they’re each expected to invest between €2.5 and €5.5 million a year.

Alongside the proposal for regional film funds, one other idea being pushed aggressively is the setting up of a Dutch “soft money” scheme akin to Luxembourg’s CIAV system.

The squeeze on funding for Dutch production tightened further when the city of Rotterdam announced it would be closing down the Rotterdam Media Fund next year.

Even so, in the short term at least, this remains a robust period for Dutch filmmakers. Several new films are currently shooting, among them the Kees Kasander produced Goltzius & the Pelican Company directed by Peter Greenaway. 

In Toronto earlier this month, Dutch productions Lena [pictured] from Christophe Van Rompaey (sold by Bavaria) and Marco Van Geffen’s Among Us (sold by Elle Driver) were warmly received. Both will also be screening in Utrecht.

Dutch movies are also retaining their popularity in the domestic marketplace.

“It is really going well. The market share in this first half year in the Netherlands is up to 20%, which is higher than ever,” Boonekamp commented. With Rutger Hauer returning to the Netherlands to star in The Heineken Kidnapping and Jean Van De Velde making a sequel to his box-office smash All Stars, she said tthe prospects for the rest of the year look strong too.

Meanwhile, the local industry has taken some encouragement from a letter State Secretary Zijlstra wrote in June in which the Government stated its commitment to keeping up the market share of Dutch films while strengthening the industry’s international ties.

Another positive sign is that the Netherlands Film Festival (like International Film Festival Rotterdam and IDFA) has managed to hold onto its government subsidy, albeit with a 10% cut.

Other events and organisations, among them Cinekid, The Holland Animation Film Festival, the Binger Film Lab and the Netherlands Institute for Animated Film will have their direct government support cut. They are therefore devising new business plans. Several are expected to apply to the Fund for financing.

This year’s Hollland Film Meeting in Utrecht (Sept 22-26) will have a special focus on Scandinavia, “Focus Holland Meets Scandinavia.”