Sister event Netherlands Film Festival opened with Nono, The Zig Zag Kid [pictured]; River Phoenix’s last film finally unveiled.
The Holland Film Meeting and the Netherlands Production Platform (27 Sept to Oct 1) launched this week amid continuing uncertainty about funding for film in the Netherlands.
A new coalition Government is being formed following Dutch elections earlier this month. However, in spite of leading party the Liberals’ manifesto commitment to increasing film industry support, there are no guarantees that the new Government will repeal the fierce cuts to the arts expected on January 1st 2013.
At this point, there is no sign of either a soft money scheme to attract inward investment to the Dutch film industry or of the new regional funds that many in Dutch film circles have long been calling for.
Nonetheless, there has been an upbeat mood in Utrecht. Sister event The 32nd Netherlands Film Festival opened with Vincent Bal’s Nono, The Zig Zag Kid on Wednesday.
“The Dutch family films are always high quality and are appreciated in- and outside the country,” festival director Willemien van Aalst commented of the decision to open the event with a kids’ movie - a genre at which the Dutch excel.
Then, on Thursday evening, in the presence of executive producer Nik Powell, cinematographer Ed Lachman and many of his other collaborators, director George Sluizer unveiled Dark Blood, his “unfinished” film starring River Phoenix. Sluizer was given a standing ovation at a packed screening.
Doreen Boonekamp, director of the Netherlands Film Fund, acknowledged that there is a squeeze on production funding. “You feel the pressure on the market. It is not something really specific for the Netherlands. I think it is in Europe everywhere,” she commented.
For production, The Film Fund currently has €33 million per year but this will reduce to €24 million. The closure of the Rotterdam Media Fund earlier this year has increased the pressure on local producers. However, Boonekamp said that producers were reacting to straitened times by becoming “more outward looking” and entrepreneurial. She also cited Dutch films’ local market share of 22% and the recent opening of the EYE building in Amsterdam as reasons for confidence.
One new development is that Dutch sales outfit Mountain Road Entertainment is becoming more active in international sales. The Hilversum-based outfit has added several new high profile titles to its slate, among them Ate De Jong’s Second World War drama The Rotterdam Blitz. The film’s producer San Fu Maltha of Fu Works said that the reason for taking the film to Mountain Road rather than to a big international sales company was its strong “local appeal.”
The Netherlands Production Platform (NPP) is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. One project in the co-production market generating early buzz include Swedish doc Bergman’s Video from Stockholm-based outfit Gädda Five. This is a feature doc exploring the strange and eclectic mix of films that legendary Swedish auteur Ingmar Bergman kept in his private archive - everything from art house classics to Romancing The Stone and Goldie Hawn comedies. The filmmakers Jane Magnussion and Hynek Pallas will interview filmmakers and actors whose work is included in the collection. Also title piquing the curiosity of potential backers is Adrian Sitaru’s Death Of A Salaryman, an adaptation of Fiona Campbell’s book that is being produced through Marina Adina’s Vernon Films.
“I am very happy with the selection,” Signe Zeilich-Jensen, Head Holland Film Meeting, commented of the 20-film selection (which includes six Dutch titles.)
This year, the Holland Film Meeting is holding a special “Holland Meets Turkey” programme on Turkish cinema and is aiming to encourage further coproduction between the Dutch and the Turks.
The NPP has a budget of around €150,000 of which €60,000 comes from the MEDIA programme.
Zeilich-Jensen has revealed that next year, the plan is to hold a Holland Meets Russia event.