Talent en Route recap 2020

Four highly promising new Dutch talents, two film­makers and two producers, were intro­duced to the great and the good of the inter­na­tional film trade during 2020 Holland Film Meeting online. Back in 201718, director/​scriptwriter Ashgan El-Hamus was in such demand in her native Amsterdam that she had to give up her masters course in direc­tion at Brus­sels’ LUCA School of the Arts. She was writing the Dutch version of the Norwe­gian teen hit Skam, and there was simply not enough hours in the day for both. (She subse­quently wrote the second season too.) Never­the­less El-Hamus, a born story-teller, was deter­mined to pursue her desire to be a film­maker. So she applied to the Nether­lands Film Fund Shorts Scheme which offered the kind of flex­i­bility to deliver her debut Bird­land, which premiered at the Nether­lands Film Festival this year. In the intensely lyrical and mature work, eight-year-old Skye and her mother Joy live on a trailer site on the edge of town. Skye wants to be like her mother so much that she copies her behav­iour. In the process, Skye explores the bound­aries of Joy’s liberal style of upbringing… Just before HFM, the film­maker under­lined what she felt was a strength within her approach to film­making. I think I am always looking at actors, just looking all the time. Do I believe what I am seeing? Is it real to me? Or does it seem fake? I think this is the most impor­tant thing, and it kind of comes to me natu­rally. I don\‘t have to force my focus there. It goes there auto­mat­i­cally,’ she says. I think the greatest compli­ment I could ever get is that some­body looks at my film and says oh yes, that is Ashgan’s film. I can see it. I can recog­nise it’,” she adds. I would like to have my own stamp.” For self-taught film­maker Aiman Hassani, this is the fourth Nether­lands Film Festival in a row, following three selec­tions at three consec­u­tive Nether­lands Film Festi­vals, running 2017 – 19. His 2017 KORT! film #YOLO4REAL concerned Ahmed, a 21-year old man who is told he is termi­nally ill. After a phase of denial Ahmed starts to take action to escape this horrible truth. In You are Moroccan, right? (2018) Hassani himself must make a choice, to conform to the wishes and oblig­a­tions of his Moroccan family or to follow his own path, thereby jeop­ar­dizing his rela­tion­ship with his parents. His 2019 short Khata, which garnered a 2020 Prix Europa nomi­na­tion within the TV Iris cate­gory (announce­ment of winner late October 2020), is about the gentle adoles­cent Kamal, who works with his older brother Hatim as a boy pros­ti­tute on and around Rotterdam Central Station. The parents of the brothers think they are just hanging out with friends on the street. But when Kamal falls in love with a male customer, the situ­a­tion seems to esca­late completely. It liter­ally placed the problem that the film high­lights onto the polit­ical agenda,” director Hassani under­lines. I am very thankful that I have had oppor­tu­ni­ties to make a film of such a scale and hope to make many more.” Young producer Chris Stenger success­fully harnessed her life­long love of anima­tion to the extent that now she develops anima­tion projects for the highly regarded Dutch produc­tion house Family Affair Films, run by Floor Onrust. (Stenger actu­ally completed an orien­ta­tion year at the renowned Rietveld Academy studying anima­tion, before real­ising that it was a very soli­tary occu­pa­tion and that she worked a lot better as a prac­tical and collab­o­ra­tive creative). In 2019, she made the stop motion film Human Nature with acclaimed Norwe­gian animator Sverre Fredriksen, an expe­ri­ence which was trans­for­ma­tive for her. Making stuff that is not moving come to life. It\‘s a kind of magic,” she says. At Nether­lands Film Festival 2020 is her short anima­tion Tourist Trap (Ultra­kort, supported by the Nether­lands Film Fund) by Vera van Wolferen. The film, about an adven­turous jeep who arrives at the perfect vaca­tion spot only to find that all the other cars had the same idea, has very contem­po­rary envi­ron­mental reso­nance. Stenger and Van Wolferen are currently discussing poten­tial collab­o­ra­tion on a feature. Following the success of the Hideous Henk pilot in early 2020, the Family Affair producer is devel­oping the rest of the first season with NDR, with the support of the NPO Fund. Hideous Henk is about a very ugly chihuahua whose owner uses him as an Insta­gram vehicle because he is the ugliest dog the internet has ever seen. After grad­u­ating from the Nether­lands Film Academy in 2014, Tom van Blommestein worked as a creative producer at NL Film and Endemol Shine. He worked on the devel­op­ment of various drama series, including The Menten Case (Golden Calf winner for Best Dutch TV Drama, 2016), Floor Rules (Emmy Award, 2018), Casper and the Christmas Angels (Emmy Award, 2015) and YouTube hit Meet The Stockers (NPO3, 2018). He was also involved in box office hits Men in the City 2 (2015) and Made for Each Other (2017). At Lemming Film, which he joined in 2020, he produces high-end drama series with an inter­na­tional focus. Projects that Van Blommestein is working on include Simone van Dusseldorp’s adap­ta­tion of the classic kids story Flod­dertje, created by Annie MG Schmidt. It is a unique and rare example of a story and a char­acter that has connected over and over again with new gener­a­tions of readers,” he comments. Van Blommestein is working on the sequel to youth sci-fi series Zenith, which builds on the universe of the first season, but takes us even further into the future to a time where robots are secretly invading the world of teenager Zoey. He is also producing Idje, an adap­ta­tion of Michael Middelkoop’s children\‘s book Idje does not want to go to the hairdresser’.
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