Stories & Beyond is the HFM programme aimed specifically at a selected group of highly talented international screenwriters. The programme provides participants with the possibility to meet with industry professionals from the Netherlands and abroad in individual meetings and coaching sessions to discuss their projects. Will the story, the idea, and concept find an audience in the Netherlands and/or beyond?
I Am Curaçao
Screenwriter: Elizabeth Francisco
Production company: Pantalla Chica Productions B.V.
During the turbulent years leading up to the dismantling of the Netherlands Antilles, a young poet emerges to write a book with the hope to inspire and unify a heavily divided Curaçao; only he must confront his own demons in the process. That poet is Hemayel Martina, a young student and poet who died at the age of 20, and through the use of archival footage and tone-setting flashbacks, I Am Curaçao tells his story.
The 90-minute Papiamento/Dutch/-language feature film, budgeted at €450,000 (€14,000 in place) is at early script stage. Producer Sulin Passial and screenwriter Elizabeth Francisco were in Utrecht looking for co-producers, sales agents, potential (Dutch) funding programs and a script coach that can review the script on the technical aspects of script writing.
“We think that I Am Curaçao is timeless because the conflict between the Dutch Caribbean and the Netherlands is something that's always existed since the beginning of time, since the island was conquered in the 1600s and enslaved Africans were brought over,” explained screenwriter Elizabeth Francisco.
“Even though we live in a post-colonial era, the conflict still remains and it's going to remain in the years to come. We also feel like we are the right people to tell this story. Not only because us, like the production, were born and raised on Curacao, but it's also time that we take control of our own narrative. For far too long, we've allowed outsiders to come in to tell Curaçao stories, and it is important for local people to tell them.”
Anton de Kom - I Shall Be Heard
Screenwriters: Philip Delmaar, Raoul de Jong
Director: Edson da Conceicao
Production companies: IJswater Films, Tulsa Studios
Produced by IJswater Films and Tulsa Studios, Edson da Conceicao’s film tells the story of the dramatic life of Surinamese writer, activist and freedom fighter Anton de Kom (1898 – 1945), author of the book ‘Wij slaven van Suriname’ (‘We Slaves of Suriname). Torn apart by injustice, exploitation and betrayal, adored, exiled, persecuted and declared insane, de Kom nevertheless found the power to tell the story that will continue to inspire generations.
Producer Vincent Berkleef of Tulsa Studios told how, “We Slaves of Suriname is considered one of the core texts on colonialization. The medium of film is ideally suited to introduce a larger audience to this inspired man who had a great impact of Suranimese and Dutch history....People like Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Nelson Manela are widely known. It's time to get to know Anton better, which for many people will be their first [time].”
Director Edson da Conceicao added: “I grew up with the idea that there weren't any black heroes in Dutch history, and I was heavily surprised that I was wrong. For a lot of Surinamese people, Anton is a hero and we want more people to get to know him, and that's why we want to show the audience the human side of Anton, how he became a freedom fighter and how against all odds, he became the hero that we know now.”
The 100-minute €4 million project is at early script stage and the production team was in Utrecht to receive feedback on the current screenplay, while seeking co-pro partners, as well as distribution and sales interest. Spoken languages in the film are Dutch and Sranang.
Screenwriter and director: Tittel Del Mar
Production company: Caribbean Filmcom
The logline of documentary FRIWIL says it all. It is about a Curaçao community ‘driven by speed and fueled by passion.’ But change is afoot. Can the strictly underground Curaçao drag and drift motoring scene recover from the pandemic? How long will it be before the next horrific accident? Will the younger generation continue with the sport? Why is there such a following for the illegal drifting and for how long can these underground events continue? There’s only one way to find out…
The feature length Papiamento-language film, budgeted at €45,000 with €2,500 in place, is at early script stage. Director Tittel Del Mar was looking to connect not only with financiers, “but also creators who have done similar projects or who are neurodivergent. I would find a sort of master-apprenticeship amazing,” she said. The project has support from the Prins Bernhard Cultuur Fonds Caribisch Gebied.
“Over 10 years ago I started documenting the Curaçao motor sports scene and I discovered that what I thought was just a group of people trying to go faster and faster resulted to be a community of love, family, and hard workers,” Del Mar explained. “So I wanna bring to you a movie that is very unique to the Caribbean and the world. A story about people driven by passion and surrounded by community. A people of, yes, speed, but people also working together and making things work. From photographers, from media, people at the drag strip becoming friends with people, building their race teams with their partners, with their work colleagues who later become their partners, and their children starting to race. It is a place of love, but it's also a place of life.”
Gouverneur de Goijer
Screenwriter and director: Ivan Tai-Apin
Production company: It Goes Productions
Ivan Tai-Apin’s 100-minute feature project, budgeted at €5,000,000, tells a tale of forbidden love in the 17th century Suriname, as the son of the governor and an enslaved man secretly start an affair. To save them from the death penalty, both the governor's family and the enslaved family must risk everything they have to guard this secret.
The Dutch/Surinaams/Afrikaans/French/German project is at advanced script stage and director Tai-Apin was keen to woo sales agents, festival programmers, distribution companies and sales departments of streaming platforms.
“We live in a pretty divided world where people often don't understand each other. With this film, I want to give people insight so that they will understand how this divided world came about,” the director stresses. “This can inspire people to create an improved world in which understanding and acceptance of each other are central. As a director and screenplay writer, I hope that everyone who works on this project also has the bigger goal in mind. Freedom is not a just given, it can be taken away from us in no time, as if the history returns, so we will always have to fight for our freedom. Let’s create freedom for us all.”
Het Excuus (The Excuse)
Screenwriter: Suleigha Winkel and Bryan Blinker
Director: Suleigha Winkel
Production company: Stichting Markoesa
Suleigha Winkel’s Het Excuus is a 90-minute Dutch/Javanese/Bahasa/Sranang-language historical drama set in the colonial era of Suriname, in which three generations of Javanese descent embark on a journey of finding the true gold of Suriname. “So why do we need to make this movie? For me, I'm half Japanese, my mom is Japanese. My great grandparents came from Indonesia. So that's also very interesting for me to do the research and dig deeper into my heritage and also where I come from,” explained director Winkel.
Scriptwriter Bryan Blinker concurs: “The beauty of this is as a black man, my knowledge of all the other cultures, the indigenous people, the Creole, the Hindustanis, the Japanese, the Chinese in Surimame…is very superficial. So with this movie, we are showing the importance of knowing each other’s cultures so we can grow together as one.”
“Right now we're at the early script phase,” added Winkel. “We're finalizing the [finance] so we can make it. We will be filming in three different countries; Suriname, of course, in Indonesia and French Guyana… We need advice on how to finalize our budget and we need a great DOP, especially somebody who has shot in Indonesia because that experience is very, very valuable to us to make the movie of course look great. We need a special effects team. We will be shooting in Indonesia the train scenes, but we need somebody to really make it look like we're back in 1902 with specifically the steam local competitive.”
She is also looking for a sound designer “to really harmonize the feeling of the movie,” she adds. “The vision/idea behind our movie is simple, to take people back to a time when everything was possible, the moment in which the only boundary you had was how far you would dare to dream. We long to capture moments when there was hope. A beautiful moment in the History of Suriname in the 20th century. What’s your excuse?”
Screenwriter and director: Eché Janga
Production company: Keplerfilm
When Franklin (17) gets the chance to sit out his sentence on Curaçao at the bee farm of his estranged father, he realises family is everything he ever longed for.
The €3.75 million Dutch/Papiamento/French/Spanish-language 100-minute fiction project is at early script stage with €106,750 already raised. The Netherlands Film Fund is listed as a partner. The film will shoot in the Netherlands, Curaçao and France. In Utrecht, Keplerfilm producers Derk-Jan Warrink and Koji Nelissen were looking for co-pro and sales interest during Utrecht.
“The natural need to know who made you is in my opinion of great importance and can help to steer one’s life path in the right direction,” explains director Eché Janga in his film notes. “For me, part of the purpose of this film is to appeal to young people who recognize themselves in similar situations that I and my friends used to be in. Although we were not adopted, many of us did have a father from a different, and at the time elusive to us, culture.”
“This created more distance and complications, especially when the father-son relationship was already not good. This is what makes the relationship in Killabees interesting to me. I recognize my younger self in Franklin. He needs his father as an example to mature mentally and emotionally.”
La Isla Inútil
Screenwriter and director: Raydrick Feliciana
Production company: Raydrick Feliciana
Aruban filmmaker Raydrick Feliciana describes his fiction feature as “a sensorial visual poem” that depicts the rise and fall of past Aruban industries, culminating in the abandonment of the Lago Oil Refinery, where his father worked, and the island’s inevitable shift to tourism. “La IIsa Inútil is a film about an island and her people traversing the storm of progress which lands upon her shores… a storm which continues to rage today, consuming all that it touches,” the filmmaker told the HFM professional audience.
The 70-minute Papiamento/English-language film is at early script stage and filmmaker Feliciana has budgeted his project at €113,600. His aim is to find a creative producer interested in working with “a first-time, driven filmmaker” and to source a composer interested in working on a film “with an experimental method.”
Feliciana is a graduate of the Doc Nomads master's degree program and for the last six years has worked as a cinematographer and editor mostly on short documentaries and short fiction films, as well as directed his own short documentary films. La Isla Inútil will be his feature debut.
“In the early 1500s, Spanish explorers discovered Aruba and subsequently enslaved and deported its entire indigenous population,” explained the director. “Having taken everything they deemed of value, they declared the island “la isla inútil”, a Spanish official status which means the ‘useless island.’ This moment of dramatic change, this shift, is what my film is all about, and it's the first of several which would come to Aruba.”
“By taking possession of this unprocessed history, this core search for my own roots leads to places that I find rich; rapidly dying folktales and oral histories on this island riddled deep with caves and hidden places. A history that is etched upon visages and stone alike, handed from parents to children and settled even within my own body,” he ends.
Screenwriters: Hilkia Lobman and Rafael Chan Pin Jin
Director: Rafael Chan Pin Jin
Production company: Craftameleon N.V. I.O.
Budgeted at €3,000,000, the madcap comedy/sci-fi feature PBM Enterprise reflects the idiocy, egotism and red tape which makes the world an altogether more frustrating place to inhabit. In the film, when the only functioning navigation system breaks down onboard a pluralistic and chaotic spaceship, a grumpy mechanic and her overly happy sidekick have to mobilize egotistical politicians, desk-potatoes and naysayers to collaborate in order for humanity to survive.
“Because of my film background, I have found a way to turn my frustrations and irritations into an infuriation for an illogical world filled with red tape and characters suffering from Egoitis and ignorance, just as I have experienced countless times before,” director Rafael Chan Pin Jin underlines in his film notes. “And this is not just in Suriname, the rest of the world suffers from ‘bureaucrap’ and ‘idiocracy’ too... my last encounter with the trash-lady in France proved my point. No matter how different we might seem from one another, we all suffer from the same illnesses, and the frustrations are thus universal.”
“All of humanity is in fact a group of animals,” Rafael continues. “We think we belong to a gender, class, religion, ethnicity, village, country or another group. Or some of us think we are lone wolves... I see myself as a lone wolf, able to observe from a distance how we can perhaps find a solution in the midst of all these frustrations. That solution is what I want to provide the audience... hope. There is always hope. All of this, with the miscommunications, polarizations, and absurdity illustrates the birth of PBM Enterprise.”
When pitching the film to the online HFM audience, Rafael explained in part the film’s raison d’etre and the significance of its title. “The film is inspired by Suriname, one of the world's most diverse countries in terms of ethnicities, religions, and languages. What sets us apart from other multicultural countries is our non-homogenous society. In short, the entire world resides in Suriname, which is why we chose the name PBM Enterprise, ‘PBM’ being the flight code for Suriname’s Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport.”
Screenwriters: Gillian Royes and Tony Hendriks
Director: Peter Sagnia
Production company: Peter Sagnia Films B.V.
The €1,000,000 thriller Sinned Marten tells the story the eponymous anti-hero story, a gambler who hits rock bottom, helps an undercover cop for cash, gets framed for murder, and must finally prove the guilt of a beloved televangelist. It is all set on the Caribbean paradise island of Sint Maarten where beaches are a playground for tourists and casinos promise hope and riches…
During HFM, director/producer Peter Sagnia made a three-way pitch on the project which is at early script stage. He was joined by writers Tony Hendriks and Gillian Royes. Their goals at the HFM were to find development funds, meet co-producers interested in presenting the “other” Caribbean and find partners in Europe and the US.
“The film so much more than a log line,” said writer Royes. “It's a character-driven murder mystery, and it's full of the paradoxes that exist in the islands.” Such as casinos and the promise of riches versus poverty and the collateral damage of addiction, added Sagnia, “and churches, the good that they do, as well as their greed.”
“It's not a comedy, but you can't tell a Caribbean story without humor,” Sagnia continued. “We take ‘serious thing and make joke.’” Royes added how the production is looking for a partner “who wants to help us tell our stories so we can open a window for the outside world to see into ours. Not just sun, sand and beaches, but real lives of real people who live here.”
“Exciting fiction about Caribbean people and their lives,” ended Sagnia. “Thrills, pills, humour, excitement, love and loyalty.”
Written by Nick Cunningham