Recap New Dutch 2020

The New Dutch Selec­tion at HFM offered a highly promising crop of future festival and box-office pleasers to entice the inter­na­tional guests of HFM. Eye’s Ido Abrams was once again on hand to quiz producers and direc­tors alike.
When producer Sanne Cousijn of Black­frame was approached by Carin Goei­jers with the idea of a docu­men­tary about legendary Dutch saxo­phonist Candy Dulfer, she was thrilled. I was one of those pony-tailed girls who was mesmerised by this hero, who was beau­tiful and sexy and amazing on her instru­ment.” As the daughter of jazz-saxo­phonist Hans Dulfer, both Candy’s parents have played a big role in her musical career as a fellow musi­cian and manager. Now that they are aging and her days of performing with super­stars like Prince and Pink Floyd have long since passed, she needs to re-invent herself in diffi­cult times, the synopsis reads. She turns 50 this year. We’ve been shooting this docu­men­tary for a year now and then corona happened which first of course scared us because we thought that the shooting would have to stop, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise, because every thematic line in our docu­men­tary got ampli­fied because of Covid-19,” says the producer. She elab­o­rated on this point with Ido: We gave Candy a camera of her own and she filmed herself during lock­down, and she filmed 18 hours so far that is unique mate­rial from inside the home of an artist during lock­down, and I think that is very valu­able for this film.” Carin further explained to Ido how she got access to the global star. I just called her and we met and we had our talk to see if we could get along together, and we [got] along perfectly together at our first meeting. Imme­di­ately we had talks about her parents, about music – we had a click. That is very impor­tant if you want to make a film together.” Carin is the best director for this film without a doubt because she has expe­ri­ence with multiple award-winning music docu­men­taries, and she also recently won the IDFA Special Jury Award for Best Dutch Docu­men­tary with But Now Is Perfect (2018), which is a social docu­men­tary,” says the producer. She will combine these two parts which will make an even better docu­men­tary.” Blackframe’s Camiel Zwart explains that the film has Dutch broad­caster NTR on board as a co-producer. 88% of the budget in place, so they are looking for the remaining 12%, and for distrib­u­tors around the world, We think the film of Candy can reach a large audi­ence because she is an acclaimed musi­cian all across the world, espe­cially in coun­tries like Japan, Germany, Austria, Switzer­land and the US,” he said.
Nosferatu Rean­i­mated
“…is the mother of all vampire stories reimag­ined for a modern audi­ence,” says director and screen­writer Erik van Schaaik of his latest project. In splendid stop-motion anima­tion it will première exactly 100 years after Murnau shocked the world with — labelled by many as the world’s first ever horror movie — the iconic Nosferatu: Eine Symphonie des Grauens.” Nosferatu Rean­i­mated is going to be very different form the slow solemn orig­inal. It will be a fairy­tale, a dark fairy­tale with gothic romance, comic relief and food for modern thought, about the deple­tion of our planet, the vampire as a metaphor for mankind’s greed.” Back in the old days Ellen was no more than a damsel in distress,” he added. Today she is the centre­piece of the story. Ellen is a smart, witty and bold heroine, facing a gruelling task: saving our world from blood­thirst and greed.” The film is produced by Ate de Jong (Mulhol­land Pictures) for €5.5 million, of which €1.5 million is secured. In Utrecht he was meeting with specialised anima­tion sales agents and with poten­tial inter­na­tional co-producers, both for produc­tion & financing purposes. During the pitch, the Drop Dead Fred producer expressed to Ido both his admi­ra­tion for the director and his desire to work with him. I find Erik a unique talent inter­na­tion­ally… he is so talented and he has an impor­tant story to tell about society, about nature, about climate change. I want to help make that possible.” Director Erik rounded off in suit­ably ghoulish fashion: Chills, excite­ment, a profound story, a beau­ti­fully animated fairy­tale world, a classic master­piece re-imag­ined, all the ingre­di­ents for a memo­rable movie night.”
Black Pete, or: How I Found My True Self And Acci­den­tally Unleashed A Race War
Gonzalo Fernandez and Ashar Medina In their film, Dutch director Gonzalo Fernandez and writer Ashar Medina are taking on the noto­rious racist tradi­tion of Black Pete and hope­fully consigning the Yule­tide prac­tice to the cultural wastebin. The pair will produce the €3 million film with Ijswater Films. When a strug­gling Suri­namese stand-up come­dian creates a cari­ca­ture of Black Pete to ridicule the racist Dutch Sinterk­laas tradi­tion, he finally reaches the success he so desper­ately desires. But his celebrity also makes him a mascot for the far right groups his family battles against in the struggle for equality. When this battle comes to an explo­sive confronta­tion, our hero must for once and for all choose which side he is on: the eternal joke, or the inevitable revo­lu­tion. Since the 1980s, the black popu­la­tion in partic­ular has been shouting that [Black Pete] is a racist tradi­tion. With this satir­ical film we want to make everyone, both white and black, aware of the impact an outdated and racist image can have,” says Gonzalo. Black Pete will also be a take on racism and redemp­tion,” says Ashar, one of whose aims at Utrecht is to find experts to transfer this local story world­wide. It will be enter­taining but we also want to shed light on this crazy tradi­tion that keeps contin­uing every year. We think it’s time to show the world that besides our image of a welcoming multi­cul­tural society, racism is still very real in the Nether­lands. It’s on TV, it’s in stores and it’s in in our schools. And it needs to stop.” He adds: Black Pete is a very Dutch film, but we also believe in its inter­na­tional poten­tial, as the bizarre Sinterk­laas tradi­tion is unique in the world. At a time when world­wide aware­ness of racism is increasing, films can play a major role in the support of this. Take a look at successful recent films like Get Out and Sorry To Bother You, for example. Both are social satires with black main char­ac­ters, shed­ding new light on this diffi­cult theme of racism and inequality. Black Pete could have the same impact.”
Exhibit #8
In Ruben Broekhuis’ low budget feature debut, produced by Monique van Kessel (Make Way Film), the director looks to deploy an intriguing method to tell a terri­fying story. In the film, when Bosnian-born Aisha and cameraman Elias team up to shoot a docu­men­tary on the myste­rious disap­pear­ance of Aisha’s brother, they cross paths with another film crew, who are creating an even more sinister narra­tive… In his HFM pitch the director under­lined how the concept of his film combines two genres; found footage and one-shot cinema. In addi­tion, it also presents a new concept. There is no other feature film in the world that has used the idea of a bootleg video — which will make this film stand out and get noticed,” he adds. He elab­o­rates: From the begin­ning of the film the viewer thinks that they are watching the docu­men­tary of Aisha and Elias, but after 15 minutes or so we see some­body passing the screen, and the viewer starts to realise that there is some­thing more going on, we are actu­ally watching a bootleg… Exhibit #8 is basi­cally a one-shot film, the movie is projected from the back of a viewing room. Grad­u­ally we learn that the people in the viewing room are actu­ally respon­sible for the disap­pear­ance of Aisha’s brother.” The screen­writer is Sarah Offringa. We use a very raw and real­istic style to tell a horri­fying story that we think will excite genre film lovers from every­where,” she says. Even though we are telling a fictional story, we are addressing a real issue. Every year, thou­sands of refugees go missing in Europe, many of them minors and it hardly ever makes the news.” Much of the docu­men­tary aspect of the film is already shot, confirms producer Monique, and the last part of the shoot is slated for November 2020. We are convinced that the concept and the story will stand out and there­fore we are able to present to you a very promising film,” she told Ido, adding, each of us are huge fans of genre film and we aim to producer more genre film for the Euro­pean market in the near future.” And what is the appeal of the horror genre, Ido wanted to know. What is there not to love? Just to make a great build-up and to toy with the expec­ta­tions of the viewers. I like to scare people,” answered director Ruben.
The Man from Rome
The notion of truth features large in Jaap van Heusden’s new project, once again produced by Marc Bary of IJswater Films. In the 95-minute €1.7 million film, the scep­tical priest Filippo (37) is sent by the Vatican to inves­ti­gate and debunk a crying statue of the Virgin Mary in a border commu­nity in Limburg, where four years ago a boy shot and killed eleven of his school­mates. Attracted and unset­tled by the mute young woman Térèse (19) who discov­ered the tears, Filippo gets entan­gled in the village’s grief and in a series of appar­ently mirac­u­lous events. For me this theme of truth and the way that Filippo treats it is some­thing that comes very close,” says director Jaap. I am also a believer and…I feel very strongly for his passion about going after the truth and fighting for that. But this notion of truth is destroying Filippo. It is devoid of humanity and he doesn’t have an eye for the people and their grief. It is eroding him from the inside out, and [only] by connecting with these people and with their pain and with their loss can he start to trans­form and start to get different ideas about what is truthful and what is right.” Producer Marc Bary says he is looking to make a German/​Italian/​Dutch co-pro in English, Italian and Dutch. The lead will be a star Italian actor, he stressed. He further empha­sised to Ido his close profes­sional rela­tion­ship with the director. We go back a long way together, but also every step we take will be a much more inter­na­tional step. Not just this one, but also In Alaska (in devel­op­ment). This is going to be another grip­ping story that will inspire me.”
Director/​screenwriter Wout Malestein explains the essence of his project, pitched at Utrecht 2020.”The movie deals with memory, reli­gion and commu­nity and how these affect the grieving process. At the core it is a story of a man who loses some­thing, his daughter, finds her in an unex­pected way and in this process re-exam­ines his faith in God,” he says. The project has very personal reso­nance for Wout, whose brother died 15 years ago. The pair were raised in a very isolated reli­gious commu­nity, although neither boys were reli­gious. A few years later his father also died. I entered a period of grief and discov­ered that my memo­ries of them changed in context,” he comments. Espe­cially with my brother, my fond memo­ries of him turned sour because he died so unex­pect­edly. My grieving process evolved in how to relate to these memo­ries in a new light. Need­less to say, I was living in my head for years and this changed the rela­tion­ship with my peers. People who lost someone at a young age will recog­nize this. You don’t only lose a loved one but also your old self and thus how you relate to the people around you.” The €500,000 90-minute project will go next to Torino Lab, says producer Aydin Dehzad (Kaliber Film), who was looking to secure a sales agent and co-produc­tion part­ners.
Inspired by the ethos of Black Girl Magic, which reminds black girls around the world of the impor­tance of tapping into their natural resources of resilience and strength, Anouschka is an inter­ac­tive produc­tion about a magical black girl’s journey through space and time. Anouschka, a bright, talented 16-year-old black Dutch girl growing up in Amsterdam’s Bijlmer, is building her own app and arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence (AI) — which enable her to capture the songs,” or musical essences, of her neigh­bour­hood and the diverse commu­nity living there. But when dark forces threaten to over­take the Bijlmer and silence the voices of its resi­dents, Anouschka, to her surprise, is called to a magical journey of self-discovery. The work is directed by Tamara Shogaolu and produced by Jamari Perry, Tamara Shogaolu and Marcela Stolz­mann for Ado Ato Pictures, an LA and Amsterdam-based studio working mainly in immer­sive media and anima­tion. We really try to create new and inno­v­a­tive ways to commu­ni­cate impor­tant messages. I think every project we make here has a real heart and soul to it. And Anouschka will be one of those for sure,” says the company’s Marcela Stolz­mann. Adds Tamara: I think one of the things that makes this project unique is not only does it use inter­ac­tion and a completely new story plat­form to tell this story, but it also weaves in music and musical elements that pull from different parts of the world. The core message is that every­body has a song in this world and it’s finding your own unique song and pulling from that in order to fight against the forces that silence you.” Anouschka is supported by the Dutch Creative Industry Fund, the Nether­lands Film Fund and a Kick­starter campaign which has raised consid­er­ably the project’s profile. Tamara says that the company has been approached with a view to adapting the project for tele­vi­sion and a feature. It\‘s a project for the whole family to share and expe­ri­ence together and we hope to bring a lot of joy to people through this as we take them on this adven­ture that is driven by inter-racial family love. Espe­cially in a year that has been so diffi­cult for people I think it has been a blessing for our team to be able to tell a story that is so fill of love and joy.”
Under the Naked Sky
Lilian Sijbesma’s debut feature is a sensi­tive study of the complex dynamics within a small family that encom­passes three gener­a­tions. Elvie (10) lives in a mobile home on a camp­site with her intel­lec­tu­ally disabled mother. With the support of Elvie’s grand­fa­ther, the man who owns the camp­site, the three of them have found an unorthodox way to func­tion as a family. But as Elvie starts to outgrow her mother, and as her grand­fa­ther loses his grip on life, their care­fully constructed world starts to break apart. I am really fasci­nated by the way you are formed by your child­hood and in this film I try to put myself in the shoes of a young girl growing up with an intel­lec­tu­ally disabled mother,” says Lilian. I ask myself what would it be like to grow up without someone to explain you the rules of the world around you. For Elvie life is a constant puzzle. Every day things happen that are different from what she was taught.” The film is produced by Germen Boelens & Kirsi Saivosalmi of Revolver Amsterdam. Kirsi explained that the €1.2 million project is in pre-produc­tion. With Film Fund produc­tion support secured this summer, the team will be ready to shoot in Summer 2021. She is looking both for a co-pro partner to deliver €250,000 as well as feed­back on the project. Asserts Lilian: For me cinema is at its strongest when it lifts a story from our everyday reality to a place that is specific for that one story. I grew up in a wooded area in the Nether­lands and always had this sense of being surrounded by a primal force when walking by myself in an old forest. That primal force is some­thing I want to transmit into this film.” Fellow producer Germen comments how, we are so happy to work together on Lilian’s’ first feature film Under the Naked Sky. Reading the script you can really tell that Lilian carries the story…in her heart and in her bones.”
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