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HFM New Dutch expert interview: Susan Korda

Renowned editor, producer, story consultant and lecturer Susan Korda acknowledges the sturdiness, even the bravery, of HFM participants in submitting their work, and by extension themselves, for scrutiny by fellow professionals.
“It shows a very good capacity to be in the belly of your work, whereby you can actually challenge that work by taking it to a forum, people give you feedback, you may need to take it apart and with the assistance of other professionals put it back together again,” she says. “The creatives come in with different needs, different strengths, different blind spots. They have the willingness to be part of it, to be challenged… I mean, it’s not for sissies. These people are coming in with guts and drive.”
New Dutch comprises a curated selection of the most exciting new projects in Dutch fiction, documentary, animation and interactive which is presented to the international network of industry toppers during HFM. All of these projects are in post-production already, and each receives a bespoke development programme designed to accommodate the filmmakers’ individual goals, wishes and needs, and to prepare them for a life far beyond Dutch borders.And if the participants are up for it, then so is Korda. “That\'s always fun to work with, especially at Utrecht, whether in the context of the New Dutch projects or BoostNL, or whatever. I\'m just working with filmmakers. I\'m flexible. I don\'t have a preference, except for a good story and passion.”As an editor, Susan began her career on Al Reinert’s Oscar-nominated and Sundance-winning documentary For All Mankind. She edited and was credited as Creative Collaborator on Sandi Du Bowski’s Trembling Before G-d, and was a producer on Emily and Sarah Kunstler’s doc William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe. She is credited on several narrative films, notably the 2020 Sundance prize-winning Identifying Features by Fernanda Valadez.As a story consultant, Susan worked with Alan Berliner on his films The Sweetest Sound and First Cousin Once Removed and on this year’s SXSW Audience Award winner Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America,” produced by the Kunstlers. Her own work includes the award-winning docs Vienna is Different & One of Us and the short narrative Salomea’s Nose.She has taught at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and was a Visiting Artist at Cooper Union. In Europe she has lectured at the international film school, Cologne; Binger Film Lab, Amsterdam and University of Applied Science, Vienna. Susan has been teaching at Columbia University’s School of the Arts since 2010.Korda explains her modus operandi in tackling the projects that come her way for guidance. “It\'s always about going into themes. I\'ve got different tools in my kit for getting more focused very quickly on where the interest of a project lies,” she says. “It\'s always about drilling deeper or drilling more into the immediacy of the moment, whether in writing a screenplay or in the editing. There’s what is happening within the blueprint of the project, within the script, or there is the actual three-dimensional emotional reality of it in the editing room because of what the actors bring. The film becomes a different beast at that point than anything one could have ever imagined, and thank God. If it were color by numbers, it would not be fun.”She adds of what she has experienced working in the European environment: “Yes, I do have an American perspective. I know how to have fun in that kind of American way of cinema. But in Europe audiences tend to be more willing to work with a filmmaker to experience the film. They don\'t want to necessarily be passively fed entertainment. So what I prefer in working with European filmmakers for the most part is that if I say we need to dig deeper into the truth, they will understand and work with that.”New Dutch selections 2021
  • Descending the Mountain (The Netherlands, Switzerland) – Maartje Nevejan
  • Femi (The Netherlands) – Dwight Fagbamila
  • The Miracle Basket (The Netherlands, Turkey) – Abner Preis
  • Swipe (The Netherlands) – Mieke Gerritzen

About the Holland Film Meeting (HFM) The Netherlands Film Festival is the central, most extensive meeting place for professionals from all corners of the Dutch audiovisual industry. Within the framework of the festival, the annual Holland Film Meeting builds and expands bridges between the Dutch and international worlds of film, TV, and digital storytelling. Together, we broaden our horizons and deepen our stories by exchanging knowledge, collaborating on projects, and finding our future audiences. Learn more about the Holland Film Meeting.
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