BoostNL is a joint initiative between the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF) and International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), supported by the Netherlands Film Fund, which offers projects in script development stage an entirely tailor-made trajectory designed to ‘boost’ their creative and business impact. The programme starts each year at NFF in August/September and culminates the following year at IFFR in January.
Cameron & How to Never Outshine a Bride and Other Futilities In A Life and Death Situation
Director: Wiebe van den Ende
Production company: Rinkel Film
Dutch director Wiebe van den Ende made an animated and moving pitch for his 90-minute Dutch/Canadian dark comedy that has €600,000 already in place towards an overall budget of €2,400,000.
In the film, while presenting at a friend's destination wedding, Cameron, a hyper-imaginative motion graphic designer struggles to keep his mind in the here and now as he hides his sudden, terminal cancer diagnosis from everyone, including his long-term girlfriend, the master of ceremonies.
“Before we dive into the story, I'd like to ask you a question. Since we all know that there's no room for personal issues at someone else's wedding, I'd like you to imagine that you just discovered that you have cancer and it's terminal, and you're kind of the presenter at that wedding, which is the wedding of the best friend of the real masters of ceremonies, aka Femke the love of your life,” explained van den Ende. “And she's been living up to this moment for weeks. Now, what would you do? Well, Cameron, our protagonist, decides to hit the snooze button on his own immediate health tribulations and has to walk on eggshells all weekend long to ensure it remains a wedding to remember.”
But there is a personal undertow to the project. “Ever since both my parents died of cancer, I wanted to make a film about having to share the devastating news with their loved ones,” the director continued. “And call it fate or an overly overt interpretation of method writing but during the writing of the script, I myself got diagnosed with colon cancer, luckily not of the terminal kind. And after some surgery and chemo, I got green lit for another chapter of my life. But it did provide me with the unique insight into Cameron's trajectory.”
Producer Reinier Selen commented: “What struck me in the story of Cameron and in Wiebe as a creator is the unique balance of touching and identifiable drama, and a light, sometimes even hilarious story approach.”
Elephants in the Fog
Director: Abinash Bikram Shah
Production company: Underground Talkies Nepal
In the 100-minute, Nepalese-spoken thriller Elephants in the Fog, the plans of Pirati, matriarch to a group of trans-women, to embark on an independent life are suddenly derailed when one of her daughters goes missing while patrolling to keep the wild elephants away.
“Let me tell you a real story about a family, a different kind of family. A family that you choose to live in. A family where you feel safe and seen. A family, which is led by a mother and cared by daughters. A family where the world is built on the love and strength,” underlined director Abinash Bikram Shah of the familial unit that comprises the group of loving and supportive trans women. “They are not related by blood, but by the mutual experiences of pain and suffering. They understand each other and find safety and security in each other's presence. But one day a member of a family suddenly disappears and after some time that member is found dead, actually killed. The film is inspired by that fateful event.”
“In our society, where conservative ideologies can sometimes take over humanity and empathy, being ‘different’ means these marginalized souls often desire what our society forbids them to desire,” the production notes stress. “And when they desire something that they’re not supposed to, they fail in ‘normal’ peoples’ eyes, are considered failures, and cast aside.”
The €420,000 project is at advanced script stage and producer Anup Poudel of Underground Talkies Nepal was looking to Utrecht to find a co-producer, sales agent, festival, further collaborators and technicians for the work.
Director: Marta Parlatore
Production company: Voyla Films
If you were an artist drowning in a quicksand of dirty laundry, dirty diapers, and debt, would you be ready to commit an awful crime to save your soul and art? The film’s logline is intriguing enough, but Netherlands-based Polish director added further spice when describing her €2.2 million dark comedy, produced by Denis Vaslin and Fleur Knopperts of Volya Films (Rotterdam).
With €31,625 in place as well as partners in the form of the Belgian A Private View, the Netherlands Film Fund and MEDIA, the producers are looking for co-producers and sales representation.
“I think of Grushka as a dystopian autobiography because the story is based on my own experience from the time when I moved to the Netherlands,” explained director Parlatore. “Just like me, [heroine] Iza is a Polish artist that moves for love and then very quickly becomes a mum. And so she finds herself in such a situation where she has to deal with all sorts of things that are not her art. And that brings her into an emotional state which is very delicate, where she struggles with motherhood, she struggles with her creative process and she struggles also with the society around her. But there is an even bigger split in her, and that is the split between the love that she feels for her man and child and the love that she wants to feel for herself again.”
“But Iza is more like a superhero version of me because she has the guts to do something tricky and dangerous to get herself unstuck,” Parlatore continued.
“It all starts when she meets her neighbour Borja, a mysterious Russian guy that is living in Dordrecht, hiding from troubles at home. Their friendship becomes like a spark in a bathtub full of napalm as Borja teaches her and encourages her to take what she wants in life. So her life goes from children and soft toys into a vortex of criminal activity and gambling deaths and people with snake tattoos and the kidnapping of a dead celebrity…”
Nunca Seré Policía
Director: Carolina Moscoso
Production company: Transparaíso Cine
Chilean Carolina Moscoso’s new project is about love and revolt. She comes from a family of policemen and women, and 35 of years of domestic happiness is captured in home footage captured both by her uncle and herself.
“But when the social revolt started in Chile [in 2019], where everything became polarized around here, I had to leave the family chat,” she says in her artistic notes for the film. “I couldn't stand the defense of the police by all the policemen in the family, nor did I ever accept it. But I miss them very much. For some time now I can no longer talk with people who think differently, with fachos, with macho men.”
“But on the other hand, I feel that opening up to dialogue and listening can help in the face of the urgency and polarization of the world in disarmament. That way of looking that feminism gives us; listening,” she says. “I look at these images of a world to which I belonged, where I grew up, where I was built. That I don't want to be, the police that I can't stand, but that I also am.”
The 90-minute Spanish-language feature doc, budgeted at €143,000 (with €63,000 in place) already has the support of Hubert Bals Fund, FidLAb Fid Marseille and the Audiovisual Fund of Chile. In post-production, producer Camila José Donoso is looking for co-producers, financial partners, sales and post-productions funds.
“After winning Hubert Bals funding and the ‘Strengthening Fund’ for feature films in Chile, we were able to complete our development stage and we are currently editing the film,” said Donoso. “After viewing more than 300 hours of material [and now] with a timeline of seven hours of exquisite material, that now allows us to work on a montage that Karen's going to perform in Argentina…Its important for us at this point in time to find the co-producers interested in this political cinema made by women. And also the critical eye.”
On the Edge of the Lake
Director: Hyo Soon Kaag
Production company: Family Affair Films
In the new Dutch project, directed by debutant Hyo Soon Kaag and produced by Chris Stenger of Family Affair Films, the adopted Soo-Ji (15 and of South Korean heritage) and her brother Manuel (17, with dark skin and fizzy black hair) are strikingly different in appearance to the blond and blue-eyed people in the Dutch village they live in. But whereas Soo-Ji feels part of the community, Manuel struggles with his identity, which has an effect on their whole family. Soo-Ji initially does not understand Manuel’s frustration, but slowly starts to discover a part of herself she has denied for a long time…
The 90-minute film Dutch-language film (budget: €1,624,973) is at early script stage, with support gained from the Netherlands Film Fund. Producer Stenger is looking for a European co-producer (aiming at Spain/France and Belgium) and a sales agent with an interest in debut films and female directors.
“It is a story about discovering yourself as a human being and about growing up. It's about family, about siblings who hate and love each other, and about parents who do their best to help their children, even though they don't always know how. We want to show that the blood bond isn't the main key to form a family, like my son and I. We aren't biologically connected, but we are family,” producer Stenger commented
“When people hear that I'm adopted, most of them want to know if I find my biological parents, like it's what every adopted person longs for,” added director Hyo Soon Kaag. “But being adopted is about so much more. It's about finding balance between nature and nurture. I love finding elements from my original descent that I can make my own in a way that it feels comfortable to me. It's a journey only I can make... It has its ups and downs, confusion and excitement, but I can truly say that I wouldn't miss it for the world.”
“We are now looking for a European co-producer who loves this story as much as we do and wants to bring it to life together with us,” ended Stenger.
Director: Selly Raby Kane
Production company: Big World Cinema
In Selly Raby Kane’s Senegalese/South African thriller/fantasy, a young woman steals a piece of meat from a familial shrine, angering its protective spirits, and has 24 hours to restore the chaos she has unleashed. The magical realist film, whose language is Wolof and is partnered by the Hubert Bals Fund, is produced by Tamsin Ranger and Steven Markovitz and has a budget of just over €1 million.
“How does time function? What is community? What is knowledge? Pènc 13 addresses these 3 questions by invoking West-African intangible heritage and the knowledge embedded in the urban Dakar,” says director Kane in her pitch.
“It is a trip throughout the urban decay and a discovery of what the city has in terms of secrets, in terms of mysticism and in terms of mythology,” she added. “So we follow this young lady throughout the city and it gives us a presentation as well of how people are bonded to the spaces where they're living and how the stories and the legends that inhabit the space contribute to the formation of the people that live in it. Pènc 13 is a story of metamorphosis and transformation.”
“It is a way to present the depth of our culture and to present our spaces as archives that are beneficial for ourselves and for the rest of the world,” she added.
Producer Tamsin Ranger pointed out the production is looking for, ie further development funding, co-production partners, a sales agent and VFX partners, adding of director Kane, “She has such a strong, fresh visual language and an ability to weave mysticism and magic.”
Director: Karen Suzane
Script: Clara Ferrer
Production company: República Pureza Filmes
In the 90-minute Brazilian project Quatro Meninas, four black girls and four white girls run away together, taking shelter at an old Great House where they will have to work together in order to survive. The year is 1885, and in Brazil, slavery still hasn't been abolished - in fact, the black girls are the white girls' personal slaves.
Until they aren't anymore…
“Our team, which includes producer Marcella Ludvig Mayer, believes in making films that have never been made before and imagining new possibilities for our reality through them,” said director Karen Suzane of the €579,833 project, currently at advanced script stage. The production is looking for a co-production partner who “shares our belief in making films about challenging social matters with a sensitive and affectionate approach.”
“Quatro Meninas is not only about remembering the past, it's also about imagining the future,” adds scriptwriter Clara Ferrer. “As a multi-ethnic team, we hope to build a world where we stand united: black and white women and men, working together inside and outside the screen, growing in great and unimaginable ways by sharing our different perspectives and experiences in the same world. This is why we create: the images, characters and narratives we offer through films, we believe, consolidate truths and suggest new possibilities for our reality. What we want to show in Quatro Meninas is that communication is true and possible. So is change. So is our existence.”
Director Suzane summed up the project in a closing statement: “We've had enough movies focusing on the violence our bodies have suffered, and more than enough movies ignoring it. Our wish is to show something else, the possibility of outliving its effects.”
The Part of the Day When You're Not Here
Director: Nicole Jachmann
Production company: Room for Film
Dutch producers Loes Komen and Eva Verweij (Room for Film) are producing the debut film of Nicole Jachmann. In The Part of the Day When You’re Not Here, Tessel (14) is enjoying her summer holiday and experiencing first love when she finds out about a big secret which flips her whole world upside down. Her mother Celine works as a prostitute. Tessel and Celine have to find a way to restore their once symbiotic bond, whilst dealing with a secret and expectations from society.
The 90-minute film, which has a budget of €500,000, is at early script stage, but director Jachmann has a very clear view on where the film should go and what it will say. “I think in the West we like to believe that sexuality is a separate part of ourselves that doesn't influence anything else in our life, even though sexuality has a lot to do with our feelings of self-worth, acceptance, identity, and our feelings of connectedness to others,” she said during her HFM pitch.
“There are so many unwritten rules about sexuality, especially for women and most of all for mothers. The strictest rules and hardest judgements in society are, I believe, when it comes to sexuality, for mothers. Once a woman becomes a mother, she's seen through the lens of motherhood and everything she does, and she will be judged for it. I think especially in a country where we live like the Netherlands, we like to believe that we are very open and accepting, also for something like sex work. But I think there's actually a huge boundary that it might be okay and accepting if it's a faraway acquaintance or maybe someone in your local gym. But what if you actually know a sex worker that's closer to yourself? What if it's a neighbor, a niece or an aunt, or God forbid your own mother?”
“With this film, I want to show a film about sexuality, women, mothers, and sex workers that is honest and true and that we rarely ever get to see on screen. This film is a bit like a love letter to women and to all the mothers around us. It's an ode to the humanness of parents and to accepting them with all their flaws,” she concluded.
During Utrecht producers Komen and Eva Verweij were, together with Jachmann, looking to meet sales agents, programmers and distributors.
Written by Nick Cunningham