Stories & Beyond is designed to provide screenwriters with the possibility to meet with representatives from the international industry through individual coaching sessions and intensive workshops. The focus of the programme is cross-pollination between writers, producers and other experts from different countries and backgrounds, with the spotlight trained on Indonesia, South Africa and France in 2021. HFM seeks to encourage screenwriters at a relatively early stage of the filmmaking process to begin exploring the international potential of their eventual films.
One of the Stories & Beyond experts on hand is Sacha Gertsik of Kaap Holland Film, an independent Amsterdam-based film, series and online production company with a solid track-record in both genre and crossover films with international appeal, as well as projects that have been amongst the highest grossing in The Netherlands. The company was minority co-producer on the international hits The Goldfinch (John Crowley) and Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.
Together with Jeltje Hillen and Safirah Dijkstra, Sacha also runs De Ontmoeting (which is Dutch for ‘The Meeting’) which offers financing possibilities for short films, and has also recently launched De Klik - an initiative to help new filmmakers take their next steps in the industry whether through script development or by actively introducing them to more experienced industryites who can offer help and support.
Sacha underlines therefore how her expertise is in development and how, during Utrecht, she is looking forward to face-to-face production chat once more, which she believes is the key driver for creative (and profitable) collaboration.
“You're always looking for that one story you haven't seen or heard before, and that touches you,” she says. “What you have to offer is your own expertise but also maybe a fresh take for people who have been stewing in their own story for quite a while. That always happens for a filmmaker, not only in a pandemic. Sometimes therefore you're also that fresh pair of eyes on a project. So what I will be looking for is mostly just interesting conversation. That may sound cheesy and a bit like an audition, but you're looking for that click with someone, with the story, with the person.”
“This whole industry is about connecting to people in stories, and we've been starved of that. So any way we can keep doing that beyond our own small inner circle is valuable,” Sacha adds.
The three countries in focus (Indonesia, South Africa and France) during Stories & Beyond in 2021 are from three continents and offer considerable cinematic diversity. “These countries tell stories in many different ways,” agrees Sacha. “South Africa and Indonesia both have strong storytelling traditions that are significantly different from our Western storytelling tradition, which to me as someone working in this industry offers an immense possibility to learn about what storytelling is and what storytelling could be, what I don't know, and the things I am yet to know.”
“In terms of France, we all just envy their industry and their funding structure. There, the storytelling tradition is much closer to ours, but there is enough to learn there and be inspired by,” she adds.
Sacha further underlines both her sense of curiosity for what is out there production-wise, and how the Holland Film Meeting/Netherlands Film Festival will generally provide the answers.
“To be fair, I think that almost every film company that's doing okay always has a full slate, but you're always looking for new stuff,” she says. “We're kind of gluttons, all of us, it's never enough. For me, the Dutch Film Festival is literally a place to meet after being in our homes for a year and a half and to finally see each other face to face and to have a beer and to kind of get inspired by each other. But you are always looking for projects as well. I'm always looking to see what we can do next, which co-productions would work for us, but also to present the new talents we have been developing.”
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.