The Holland Film Meeting is the place where every year, the Dutch industry gets very international and where production counterparts from across the world get equally animated over all things Dutch – at least within a film context.
Co-production is, of course, a common denominator among HFM guests. In recent years, Dutch producers have heeded the Film Fund’s call to go out into the world to locate production finances, while international filmmakers are increasingly aware of the minority funding opportunities in the Netherlands, and of course the generous cash rebates available to foreign producers – up to 35% of production spent in the Netherlands – courtesy of the Film Production Incentive.
Stories and talent are the other key currencies at HFM. Stories at their inception, through their development, and during their realisation. The market presents and nurtures the emerging talent, that will create, enthuse and entertain with those stories for years to come.
“That’s why we’re here, albeit online this year,” underlines the Head of Professionals & Talent & Education Rianne Poodt. “Of course as storytellers we should not only be mindful of the great power our craft provides us with, but also remember the premise of the great story of Spider-Man: With great power comes great responsibility. We’re here to challenge each other to take that responsibility, by examining our own work thoroughly and exposing it to some serious feedback from all the experts who are sharing their knowledge during HFM.”
BoostNL will once again offer up four Dutch and four international projects (from Argentina, Brazil, Egypt and Georgia) in 2020. The two-part program commences in Utrecht and will conclude at IFFR 2021, having delivered a series of one-on-one sessions, between project participants and key international mentors and strategists within festival, sales and marketing sectors, supporting the project through all stages of development, from advanced script to the post-production stage to marketing and distribution.
“Each one of us sees the world through a different lens, and that lens is defined, of course, by our life experiences, our identities and our personal beliefs. This makes for an abundance of rich, diverse and important stories,” says Poodt. “Stories that are not bound by geographical borders and time zones. We need to shed light on ‘life as we know it’ from as many angles as we can, in order to reinvent it and make it future-proof”
“I am so grateful to be able to organize an event that stimulates diverse voices to shape their stories in an interesting, authentic way. That brings our storytellers together, so they can forge bonds and make their films, even in these trying times. And finally, to help their great work find its way to its public.” Poodt points to the top-level experts who will advise on the BoostNL projects over the next 5 months, including the likes of Anna Ciennik, Kate Leys, Mmabatho Kau, David Pope (script), cinematographer Ashley Connor (The Miseducation of Cameron Post), editor Nicholas de Toth (Stoker), script mapper Paul Tyler, award-winning Dutch director Mijke de Jong, American queer cinema stalwart Tom Kalin (Swoon), sound designer Jane Tattersall (The Handmaid’s Tale), composers Roger Neill (20th Century Woman) and Ella van der Woude (Take Me Somewhere Nice, Instinct), philosopher Gert de Graaff and many others.
Likewise, during the 2020 New Dutch programme the spotlight is on new local production, directorial and screenwriting talent, and output. The tailor-made development programme promotes maximum interface with the international guests of HFM. The nine projects are diverse, ranging from a music documentary (Candy), to an interactive production (Anouschka), to animation (Nosferatu Reanimated).
Experts on hand include leading Dutch director Sacha Polak, visual arts & interactive experts Michel Reilhac and Angelique Spaninks, doc sales guru Salma Abdalla (Autlook Filmsales), Netflix post-production supervisor Miga Bär and British screenwriter Simon Kelton (Eddie the Eagle), among many others.
The inspirational Stories & Beyond programme boosts 13 projects, from the Netherlands (4), Ireland (4), Germany (3) and the UK (2). Jordi Wijnalda (HFM coordinator) isolates three LGBTQ+ projects in the selection: Brutes (dir: Lucy Brydon, UK),This is Home (scr: Silas Parry, prod: Gill Parry, UK) and The Irish Outside the Family, about the tensions in a family when a teenage son starts an affair with an older man. The director is Miro Mirko Mastropasqua.
For Stories & Beyond there will be experts on hand from ZDF, Screen Scotland, Lemming Film, Samson Films, Element Pictures, Coin Film and KLEUR. Horror king Jan Doense and veteran Dutch-German filmmaker Ben Verbong will also be there to advise. The session will end with a closing performance by the revered Dutch actress Mariana Aparicio Torres (Het Nationale Theater/HNT, The Hague).
HFM guests are invited to take to the waters during a series of virtual boat trips along the canals of Utrecht, while getting to grips with key issues facing the local and international audiovisual industries. “Despite not being on actual boats, we’ll still be recreating the nautical vibes everyone normally loves in Utrecht!” Says Wijnalda.
Topics up for debate include how smaller film industries (and the Dutch in particular) try to translate their filmmaking to the global market, the radically changing landscape of markets and festivals from this pivotal year onwards, the necessity on the part of some filmmakers to reassess their creative processes from scratch, and ways to make working practices more inclusive, equitable, and diverse from the get-go.
The impressive guest list includes Richard Peña (director emeritus of the New York Film Festival), programmers Julian Ross (IFFR) and Mark Cosgrove (Watershed Bristol), filmmakers Rebecca Thomas (Stranger Things), Johnny Ma (To Live To Sing, Cannes 2019), Sacha Polak (Dirty God) and Jeroen Scholten van Aschat & Shady El-Hamus (About That Life), poster designer Sander Brouwer (Monos, Paradise Drifters), filmmaker and KLEUR co-founder Ashar Medina, indie director Lucio Castro (Fin de Siglo), and many more.
Four more very promising Dutch ‘Talents en Route’ will be unveiled during HFM 2020. These are producers Tom van Blommestein (Lemming Film), Family Affair Films’ Chris Stenger, and filmmakers Ashgan El-Hamus, whose debut Birdland premieres in Utrecht, and Aiman Hassani whose Khata was the Dutch entry for the International Emmy Awards.
“Some of the previous Talents en Route are enjoying successful and productive careers, such as directors Ena Sendijarevic and Mees Peijnenburg, and producers Loes Komen and Erik Glijnis,” says Poodt. “I look forward to following the future trajectory of this year’s crop of talents.”
Poodt further points out that the recognition of talent doesn’t start with students leaving college with a graduation film in their back pocket. “That’s why I’m also an advocate of storytelling and visual thinking in primary schools for young kids. To show them that their stories matter. That they can tell their own story, and to make sure they have enough self-esteem to do that. It’s very important to stimulate, create the space for, and develop those talents. And then some of them will become storytellers, and the very good ones will attend Holland Film Meetings in the future.”
Written by Nick Cunningham.
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