Ricky Rijneke debut
in Tiger Competition
Guido van Driel opens
Rotterdam in Tiger competition New Dutch Directing Talent Nanouk Leopold selected
for Berlin Panorama
Latest David Verbeek film in new Rotterdam competition A publication by the Netherlands Film Fund and EYE International
Issue #10 February 2013 IFFR/Berlinale issue Download the free app for iPad and Android 1
View from Within
2 View from Within:
will determine the winner. We have always had a very loyal, intelligent, articulate and dedicated audience so it only makes sense that we turned to them to choose the winners. Cinema programmers will know that these films were chosen by a jury representing the same audience that will pay good money to see them when they go on wider release.
Rutger Wolfson, Director of IFFR
8-9 Cover Feature:
Tiger Debutante: Ricky Rijneke is in Tiger Competition with her debut feature Silent Ones. She talks to See NL.
10-11 New Year, New Look:
how the Netherlands Film Fund will be structured from 2013.
12-13 A Bright Future:
new Dutch directing talent in Rotterdam.
14-15 Graphic Adaptation:
Guido van Driel talks to See NL about his debut film The Resurrection of a Bastard, opening Rotterdam.
16-17 How to Describe a Cloud: David Verbeek’s latest film
competes in Rotterdam’s new Big Screen Award Competition. He explains all to See NL.
18-19 Go West:
Debutant Alex Pitstra is in IFFR Bright Future with Die Welt, a film that offers a critical assessment of Europe from the perspective of an outsider.
20-21 Rotterdam to Rio:
Three outstanding documentarians talk to See NL about their Rotterdam 2013 selections.
22-23 Nice Shorts:
An overview of the Dutch short films in Clemont-Ferrand.
24-25 Catching and Dancing:
Auteur Nanouk Leopold discusses her ‘revelatory’ new film It’s All So Quiet, opening Berlin Panorama.
26-27 Sluizer in Berlin:
Completed nearly 20 years later than originally planned, George Sluizer’s Dark Blood is screening Out of Competition in Berlin.
28-29 Festival Fare:
An overview of the Dutch films selected for Berlin and Rotterdam.
30-31 Home Success:
Dutch producers know how to satisfy home audiences. Three leading exponents discuss their success with See NL.
We acknowledge of course that this festival has always been very internationally oriented, but we also realise that we can offer a lot of opportunities and support to Dutch films. We can present them to an international audience of professionals but we can help their release in the Netherlands. When Dutch films are selected at Rotterdam, a lot of publicity is generated that will invariably support the release of the film after the festival. We work hard for each of the films.
IFFR marks the beginning of the film calendar, and this year we were very lucky that so many strong Dutch films were finished in time for the festival. This was a timely coincidence as right now the Netherlands film industry is facing some serious budget cuts, with Dutch politicians on the verge of creating a soft money scheme. We all have to make a strong case for Dutch film and I am very glad that the IFFR can support this commitment and continue to demonstrate the excellence of films made in Holland.
The Rotterdam Film Festival owes its success to many things. Our timing is just right, at the beginning of the year when people are full of enthusiasm and confidence for their films. The best industry professionals come to Rotterdam and our festival programmers have the keenest instincts. Some of the Netherlands’ most notable auteurs, such as Nanouk Leopold and David Verbeek, and producers Femke Wolting and Kees Kasander, grew up watching films in Rotterdam (David Verbeek’s How to Describe a Cloud is in Big Screen Competition) and this mutual fertilisation process continues to be in evidence. The successful HBF Plus programme of The Netherlands Film Fund and the International Film Festival Rotterdam gets Dutch producers involved in Hubert Bals Fund-supported, inter national co-productions.
For the first time in 14 years we have a Dutch opening film. The Resurrection Of A Bastard is powerful stuff - a very special film from a very talented director. And we have Ricky Rijneke's excellent debut feature Silent Ones in Tiger Competition as well. But the most important new addition is the Big Screen Award Competition section whose purpose is to raise the domestic profile of the films in selection. We are obviously aware that the climate for artistic films in Dutch cinemas is becoming ever more difficult so we thought it essential to start a new competition with a guaranteed prize of theatrical distribution in the Netherlands. One of the interesting things about this new initiative is that a jury from the Rotterdam audience
Cover still: Silent Ones Director: Ricky Rijneke Script: Ricky Rijneke Production: Rotterdam Films Sales: WIDE Management See page 8
And we have the original co-production market in CineMart which has informed and aided the development of numerous other co-production markets around the world. The list of CineMart participants from the Netherlands over the years reads like a Who’s Who of Dutch cinema.
Colophon See NL is published four times per year by EYE International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals. Editors in chief: Claudia Landsberger (EYE), Jonathan Mees (Netherlands Film Fund) Executive editor: Nick Cunningham Contributors: Geoffrey Macnab, Melanie Goodfellow, Rutger Wolfson Concept & Design: Lava.nl, Amsterdam Layout: def., Amsterdam Printing: Roto Smeets Grafiservices Printed on FSC paper Circulation: 1800 copies © All rights reserved: The Netherlands Film Fund and EYE International 2013 Contact Sandra den Hamer CEO EYE Film Institute Netherlands E firstname.lastname@example.org Claudia Landsberger Head of EYE international EYE Netherlands E email@example.com EYE Film Institute Netherlands PO BOX 74782 1070 BT Amsterdam The Netherlands T +31 20 589 1400 W www.eyefilm.nl Doreen Boonekamp CEO Netherlands Film Fund E firstname.lastname@example.org Jonathan Mees Head of Communications Netherlands Film Fund E email@example.com
Dead Body Welcome
‘I couldn't find enough words, or the right words, to explain how it felt ... I also understood that maybe it is impossible to explain. Maybe you have to show it.’ See page 12
Dead Body Welcome Director: Kees Brienen Script: Desiree Duwel, Kees Brienen Production: De Productie, KINO International
Dany Delvoie International Affairs Netherlands Film Fund E firstname.lastname@example.org Netherlands Film Fund Pijnackerstraat 5 1072 JS Amsterdam The Netherlands T +31 20 570 7676 W www.filmfonds.nl
The Resurrection Of A Bastard ‘An early supporter was producer Frans van Gestel. He didn’t know van Driel’s comic books but took an immediate liking to the story. Nor did he blink when van Driel revealed that he wanted to direct the movie version himself.’ See page 14
Photo: Pief Weyman-Topkapi Film
The Resurrection Of A Bastard Director: Guido van Driel Script: Bas Blokker, Guido van Driel Production: Topkapi Films (NL), Menuet (BE) 4
Devastated by Love ‘Ari Deelder, daughter of celebrated poet Jules, came to directing after a childhood in which she had been “indoctrinated with the love for theatre and film since she was an embryo.” See page 12
Devastated by Love Director: Ari Deelder Script: Ari Deelder Production: StudioRe
It’s All So Quiet ‘For Leopold the experience of working on It’s all So Quiet was a revelation. Her previous films are intense psychological studies of women. This time the cast is almost exclusively male.’ See page 24
Photo: Victor Arnolds
It’s All So Quiet Director: Nanouk Leopold Script: Nanouk Leopold Production: Circe Films (NL), N279 Entertainment (NL), Coin Film (DE)
Dark Blood ‘After 2007, it became a drive, a must, an urgency. I felt it was probably worthwhile. I remembered that people told me it was good material 20 years before. I guess that I am a craftsman in the sense that I don’t like unfinished products.’ See page 26
Dark Blood Director: George Sluizer Script: Jim Barton, rewrite by George Sluizer Production: 2012: Sluizer Films, 1993: Scala Productions - Fine Line Features
Tiger Debutante Silent Ones, Ricky Rijneke’s debut feature selected for IFFR Tiger Competition, is a film with a self-consciously dream-like quality, reports Geoffrey Macnab. A young Hungarian woman (Orsi Toth) wakes up inside a crashed car in the middle of nowhere having lost all sight of her brother Isti. Distraught, she boards a cargo ship and heads to Western Europe in hope of a new life. Young Dutch director Rijneke has described her film as “a visual representation of the state of mind” of the main character Csilla, and as a “kind of road movie.” Dialogue is pared down to a minimum. Shots, for example of Csilla wandering through the harbour, are held for a small eternity. Rijneke creates a claustrophobic and threatening world in which the lines between reality and fantasy are deliberately blurred. The film, which has several scenes at sea, was partly shot on an abandoned ship in the harbour at Rotterdam. “All the shooting on the land is more dynamic. There is more handheld (camera). The shooting on the ship is more sober and more precise, more fixed shots,” the director says of the stylistic divide within her film. Rijneke has been working on the project for four years. She met Hungarian actress Orsi Toth at the Locarno Film Festival. Toth was there as a jury member. Rijneke knew her from her performance in Kornél Mundruczó’s Pleasant Days (2002) and asked the Hungarian if she might be interested in appearing in Silent Ones. When Toth agreed, Rijneke refined the screenplay to “make it more for
her.” The director describes Toth as brilliant and highly disciplined. “She needs good instructions, and when you are on the same level you can absolutely rely on her. She is very strong, really a one-take actress.”
‘In the edit you are re-exploring the film’ There are several other eastern European collaborators on Silent Ones, among them cinema tographer Gergely Pohárnok (whose credits include György Pálfi’s Hukkle and Taxidermia) and Russian composer Andrey Dergatchev, best known for his score for Venice Golden Lion winner The Return. “I didn’t see a culture clash,” the Dutch filmmaker says of working with Hungarians and Russians but then adds that she had no experience of working with Dutch actors to compare it with. Her award winning short Wing, the Fish that Talked Back, featured a six-year-old Chinese actress. She sees Silent Ones as exploring similar themes.
Fatih Dervisoglu behind the till in the local Turkish supermarket.
there (to Rotterdam) and all the nationalities coming here.”
Rijneke grew up around film. There is a photograph of her as a very young girl with the legendary Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski, who came to her home town Rotterdam to work on the portmanteau film City Life, produced by her father Dirk Rijneke and mother Mildred van Leeuwaarden. Through that project, she also met such notable figures as Bela Tarr (and family) and the late Carlos Reichenbach. “I grew up with film of course,” the director states. “I was always there from when production was going on. From childhood, I knew a lot of directors.”
Silent Ones follows an eastern European woman as she heads west. However, Rijneke cautions against seeing her film as a political allegory. “That’s not the most important thing. It is more about the inner world of the character.”
Dirk and Mildred were producers on Silent Ones. And, no, it wasn’t problematic working so closely with family members. “You see it a lot more. Families or partners or couples work together,” Rijneke suggests, ticking off such examples as the Dardenne brothers, Francis Ford Coppola and his children and Nuri Bilge Ceylan and his wife Ebru Ceylan. An obvious advantage about her producers was that they allowed her to take the time she needed to develop Silent Ones. “I could make the film without any limitations.”
“Elements that are already in the short film return in the feature. Both characters are creating their own universe and dreaming their own worlds. They are outsiders. The one (the feature) comes out of the other (the short).”
The film was funded by ‘De Verbeelding’, an initiative by the Filmfund, and the Mondriaan Fund. It is receiving its world premiere at International Film Festival Rotterdam. Even in advance of its first public screenings, Silent Ones has been making a noise with distributors and has already been snapped up for international sales by Paris-based Wide Management. Distributor Contact is handling the Dutch release. Meanwhile, Rijneke is already at work on a new project. “It is called Hotel Europa. It’s about youngsters isolated after a long winter who want to go out partying...”
This was a film that was partially discovered in the editing. Rijneke worked and reworked her material until she found the balance she wanted. “In the editing, you’re exploring again the film.”
The casting of Isti, Csilla’s young brother, happened in unlikely circumstances. Rijneke and her casting director had searched far and wide for a young actor. Then, when she was despairing of ever being able to track down someone suitable, she ran into 10-year-old
Rijneke grew up in Rotterdam - the production company behind Silent Ones is called Rotterdam Films - and she is proud of her home city. “I think also what inspired me - all the ships that go Silent Ones Director: Ricky Rijneke Script: Ricky Rijneke Production: Rotterdam Films Sales: WIDE Management
Photo: Yvonne Witte Front: Monique Ruinen, Reneé van der Grinten, Bero Beyer, Doreen Boonekamp, Dorien van de Pas, Peter Lindhout and Frank Peijnenburg Rear row: Pieter Fleury, George van Breemen and José van Doorn 10
New Year, New Look The remodelled Netherlands Film Fund opened its doors for business at the beginning of January 2013. Melanie Goodfellow reports. It is a landmark year for the Netherlands Film Fund: the body, which turns twenty this year, is undergoing one of its biggest overhauls since its creation in 1993. The radical changes incorporated into the fund’s latest four-year plan running to 2017 have been sparked by a near 30% cut in the annual funding budget to €27.3 million, part of the government’s plan to rein in public spending. But adversity also brings opportunity and fund director Doreen Boonekamp has used the imposed streamlining to re-focus the fund. “We wanted to give priority to project development. We’ve abolished deadlines and advisory committees in favour of a system of film consultants. The aim is for the fund to work organically throughout the year in a more thorough, continuous fashion, creating an on-going dialogue with the applicants. It is the least expensive part of film making to invest in and it helps defining more precise which projects are strong enough and ready for production” she explains. The new structure integrates different formats side-by-side in three central funding programmes, unlike in the past when when it had different divisions. The three programmes for development and production support comprise: New Screen NL, aimed primarily at new feature film talent, short animation films and cinematical experiment; Screen NL which will focus on new feature films, feature length documentaries
and animation films from filmmakers working on their second or subsequent film; and Screen NL Plus, a non selective film programme, aimed at mainstream film as well as at distribution.
Netherlands Eurimages representative, will handle talent development alongside supporting the work of film consultants Renée van der Grinten, who will focus on experimental film, and animation expert Peter Lindhout. She adds that New Screen NL will continue to operate the established new talent initiatives set up before the overhaul, such as the Oversteek programme aimed at artistic first and second pictures, which supported Urszula Antoniak’s Nothing Personal, David Verbeek’s R U There and Michiel ten Horn’s The Deflowering of Eva van End, which premiered in Toronto and which will also be in Rotterdam.
The overall target for the fund is approximately 100 productions per year. “We’re aiming at improving the quality of Dutch film while retaining a reasonable number of productions because we obviously need a certain amount of films to stimulate the industry and encourage international co-production,” says Boonekamp.
Former A-Film acquisition director Frank Peijnenburg is the head of the biggest programme Screen NL and George van Breemen will manage Screen NL Plus. Feature film consultants at Screen NL will comprise: producer Bero Beyer (Salt of this Sea and Paradise Now), veteran producer José van Doorn and Monique Ruinen, former project manager at the Dutch Cinekid festival and dramaturgist at AVRO television. Documentary filmmaker Pieter Fleury, who joined the NFF last year, will continue as consultant for feature length documentary film.
‘We’re trying to create conditions for young talent to thrive’ One of her key ambitions for the new structure is the strong focus on talent development, for both new talent as well as established film makers and producers. “There is a new generation of filmmakers who are more open and inventive in the way they get their projects made and more international in their outlook,” Boonekamp stresses.
“My role is to assess the production, financial and distribution documents of all applications while the film consultants assess the content and the teams involved,” comments Screen NL head Peijnenburg. “We have an interesting team, each with specific areas of expertise and very different personalities… the challenge is bringing all this together in order to end up with a more integrated film policy. It’s important that established talent
“We’d like to give this new generation more support and a step up into the industry that the fund didn’t offer before,” New Screen NL head Dorien van de Pas adds. “We’re trying to create conditions for young talent to thrive. We can help them not just through funding but also through training and matchmaking.” Van de Pas, who is also the
is offered the chance to continue to grow and develop.” One of the strand’s key aims, says Peijnenburg, is to encourage more international co-productions. “Building strong networks is essential. Minority co-production gives our producers invaluable experience and gains them access to bigger projects on a relativity small budget,” he explains. The new programmes officially opened their doors for submissions on January 15. After more than 12 months of planning and presentations, Boonekamp’s new-look fund is swinging into action.
Funding breakdown The Fund focuses on the production and dissemination of different types of films, so that the range of filmsin terms of artistic quality, diversity, volume and audience appeal, develop and strengthen Dutch cinema and film culture, both domestically and internationally. New Screen NL for first-time directors, cinematic experiment and short (animation) films. Screen NL for feature films, featurelength animation films and featurelength documentaries from film directors working on their second or subsequent film and for international co-productions. Screen NL Plus for cinema films targeting a large audience, through a matching scheme as well as a support for distribution. The total amount available for development and production funding in 2013 is € 24 million. € 1 million are set aside for distribution and the budget for film activities such as film festivals and training is € 1.5 million.
A Bright Future Beckons Four new Dutch directing talents - Kees Brienen, Diederik Ebbinge, Ari Deelder and Michiel ten Horn - will feature in IFFR's Bright Future section. They talk to See NL. Kees Brienen is a familiar face on the Dutch and international film circuit - but as a programmer, not as a filmmaker. But that is set to change in 2013 following the Rotterdam selection of his feature debut Dead Body Welcome. The project was one born out of tragedy. In 2006 Brienen went to Ghana to meet up with his best friend, artist Jeroen de Rijke, in order to observe and film a solar eclipse. Within an hour of landing, however, Brienen discovered that De Rijke had died some days before, and he spent the next eight days organising the return of his friend’s body to the Netherlands. “When I came back to Holland somehow I was never satisfied with my explanation of what happened,” he says. “I couldn’t find enough words, or the right words, to explain how it felt to be there by myself. I also understood that maybe it is impossible to explain. Maybe you have to show it.” Brienen decided to locate the story in India and cast himself in the lead. The film was shot on a low budget with a production grant of €30,000 from the Netherlands Film Fund. Brienen then managed to persuade the much-lauded Dutch editor Menno Boerma to cut the film. “He was the impetus I needed to complete the film,” Brienen stresses. “I needed his visionary view. It was easy for him to take distance and show me the darlings I had to kill, some of which were very painful. My initial edit was linear with no particular harmony. Menno
made it into a proper film, a sculpture.”
Festival. “To have everything under control - that’s what I like!” he explains of why he now likes calling the shots.
Diederik Ebbinge’s debut feature Matterhorn isn’t, strictly speaking, a mountaineering film. “When I was young, I went with my parents a lot to Switzerland to walk in the mountains. They were the only place on earth where I had the belief there was some kind of god. It gave me some religious feeling. It (the mountain range) is so huge and you are so small. The Matterhorn is like a church tower.”
Ari Deelder’s comedy/drama Devastated By Love is an adap tation of the novel by actor and writer Aat Ceelen. The moment she read the book, Deelder was hooked on the idea of making a movie of it. She came across it while hard at work on her short film Don’t Tell Kees in which Ceelen appeared as an actor. “Some scenes were instantly clear in my head. And I knew I wanted to make this film,” she remembers. “When I asked Aat if I could use his book for a script, he told me he didn’t think it was possible, but that I could try.”
“Matterhorn is a tragicomedy, with more emphasis on the tragic”
Try she did, and two years later, her script won the “Lang Rotterdams” competition run by the Rotterdam Media Fund. The project, which was also nurtured at the Binger Institute, finally came to fruition.
The real subject of Matterhorn, however, is the relationship between a lonely, widowed man and the stranger who walks into his home out of nowhere. The film is a tragicomedy - but with more emphasis on the tragic than the comic. “Everybody I show the movie to is crying at the end of the film and I didn’t foresee that.”
Deelder, who works as a dj and is the daughter of celebrated poet Jules Deelder, came to directing after a childhood in which she had been “indoctrinated with the love for theatre and film since she was an embryo.” “I’ve inherited my love for language from both my parents, but while writing the script I talked with Jules about some scenes I wrote,” Deelder notes. “He helped me with finding the right use of Rotterdam slang.”
Ebbinge wrote the screenplay with his two leads already in mind, Ton Kas, who plays the widower, an actor the director had long admired, and René van ’t Hof. “Van ’t Hof is a very good physical actor. I’ve been a fan of him since I was young,” Ebbinge observes.
The director is already working on a new project, an adaptation of her father’s story A Night In Tunisia.
The 43-year-old director turned to filmmaking after a successful career as an actor and comedian. His short film Success won the ‘Prix du Rire’ at the ClermontFerrand International Short Film
Michiel ten Horn’s debut feature The Deflowering Of Eva van End, which enjoyed its world premiere at the Toronto International Film
Festival, is not the typical Dutch family movie. There’s a barbed, satirical humour here not always found in films from the Netherlands. Anne Barnhoorn’s screenplay features a 15 year-old ugly duckling protagonist Eva (Vivian Dierickx), an awkward teenager who doesn’t fit in with her family. The arrival of a handsome, seemingly perfect German exchange student heightens tensions between the family members, who all vie to wiggle their way into his affections. Ten Horn has made several well received short films. Iris Otten of Pupkin Film had seen his work and was enthusiastic about it. She contacted him and he in turn brought screenwriter Barnhoorn on board. The Deflowering Of Eva van End went through the Netherlands Film Fund’s Oversteek scheme, a collaboration between Dutch public broadcasters, the Netherlands Film Fund and Dutch Cultural Media Fund to give new talent the opportunity to make films. It was shot in only 22 days. Ten Horn began his filmmaking as an animator - a field in which he remains active. That’s one reason, he suggests, why he can see the “cartoonish” elements in his characters. His graduation film Basta (2007) was “a live action story with an animation feel to it.” So what next for the precocious young filmmaker? Ten Horn hopes to work with the same team again. In the meantime, he is preparing an animated project about “a Dutch junkie.” Geoffrey Macnab and Nick Cunningham
Graphic Adaptation At the ripe age of 50, acclaimed cartoonist and graphic novelist Guido van Driel has made his debut feature, The Resurrection Of A Bastard (the first Dutch movie to open IFFR in over a decade), writes Geoffrey Macnab. The title hints at the subject matter. This is the story of a low-life hoodlum who is gunned down and left for dead. His brush with death changes his personality quite radically. He is looking for retribution, trying to hunt down the man who assaulted him. His only clue is a tattoo on his assailant’s wrist. He ends up in Dokkum where he encounters an asylum seeker who is unable to talk about his past. The story builds to an enigmatic finale under a large willow tree. “It was a really joyful experience!” van Driel reflects on the process of adapting his own graphic novel Om Mekaar in Dokkum for the screen together with co-screen writer Bas Blokker. Van Driel and Blokker weren’t in any rush. The director calculates it took them five years to refine the screenplay and then to pull all the financing together. The film has several new scenes not found in the graphic novel. These are there to illuminate the criminal life of the main character. “If I remember it well, I was already working on a film script about a criminal who has a near death experience when I had the commission to make the graphic novel,” van Driel recalls. He points out that when the novel was finally published, the reviewers all remarked on how cinematic it was. The challenge was laid down. Van Driel thought it was time to make a movie.
An early supporter was producer Frans van Gestel, then of Motel Films (now of Topkapi). He didn’t know van Driel’s comic books but took an immediate liking to the story. Nor did he blink when van Driel revealed that he wanted to direct the movie version himself.
as criminal boss James Joyce. “He was an amazingly good actor. He spoke fluent French, fluent German, fluent English,” van Driel recalls. The director also reserves considerable praise for lead actor Yorick van Wageningen who played hoodlum Ronnie, both as a young and old man.
Van Driel directed a TV movie, Groen is toch de mooiste kleur voor gras (2007), before commencing work on Resurrection in earnest. He knew he had to make the transition from working in isolation as a graphic novelist to being in the middle of the organised chaos of a film shoot. “That is what I really had to learn, giving up the idea of total control.”
Van Driel was “dead tired” after an exhausting shoot. Even so, during the editing, he felt completely at ease and enjoyed the challenge of cutting the film together with his editor Alain Dessauvage (who also worked on Michaël R. Roskam’s award winning Bullhead). There are some overlaps between Resurrection and Bullhead. Both are gangster movies which also feature farmers. Van Driel says that any similarity between the films is coincidental. He had already long since finished his screenplay when Bullhead went into production. Nonetheless, he admired Roskam’s movie and, in particular, the way Roskam used Flemish dialect and local colour.
The director took his project to the Binger in Amsterdam. One of the teachers, British director Hettie MacDonald, told him he was trying too hard to control everything and that he needed to open up to his collaborators advice he took on board. The film got production support from the Netherlands Film Fund.
Dutch defeat by Germany during the 1974 World Cup. The screen play is already completed. “That 1974 match was the most traumatic we ever had,” the director remembers of the shattering World Cup Final loss. This is a coming of age yarn about two youngsters facing up to adult life. There is also a sub-plot about a girl who has been murdered. All being well, van Driel would like to make the film with the same team behind Resurrection. One of his graphic novels, Gasten, is about two “typically British Noel Gallagher-like” types who take magic mushrooms and share intimate secrets on a trip to Amsterdam. From his time in Amsterdam’s red light district, Van Driel has a strong curiosity about British tourists. “They’re definitely different from all the other ones,” he puzzles over the strange tendency of Brits in Holland to wear nothing but t-shirts on even the coldest nights of the year. “You never see Italians or Germans doing that!”
Resurrection arrives as opening film in Rotterdam having already being “pitched” in the festival’s co-production market, CineMart. “I know Rotterdam very well. I did the CineMart and I spoke to 30 different people from distributors to producers but it didn’t bring us anything!”
Van Driel thought it was time to make a movie. No, van Driel doesn’t have first-hand knowledge of the Dutch criminal underworld (although he did live for seven years in Amsterdam’s red light district.) Resurrection isn’t intended as a realistic film.
Van Driel’s own journey toward the movie business has been long and circuitous. He began his professional career as an illustrator in the 1980s. He has worked as a painter and as a graphic novelist.
Award winning Dutch actor Jeroen Willems (who sadly died last December) was originally offered the leading role. He turned it down because he was exhausted but took a smaller part
Having completed Resurrection, he is now looking to adapt another of his graphic novels for the screen. Toen we van de Duitsers verloren is about the The Resurrection Of A Bastard Director: Guido van Driel Script: Bas Blokker, Guido van Driel Production: Topkapi Films (NL), Menuet (BE)
Photo: Pief Weyman-Topkapi Film
Photo: Lennert Hillege Guido van Driel
Photo: Lennert Hillege
On Cloud Nine Less a study in nephology (the branch of meteorology dealing with clouds), more an essay on how superstition still holds sway in an increasingly modern Taiwan, David Verbeek’s latest film How to Describe A Cloud is selected for IFFR’s inaugural Big Screen Award Competition that aims to support distribution in Dutch cinemas. The director talks to Nick Cunningham. The essential dilemma within How to Describe A Cloud is a universal one. A young urban woman, Liling, chooses to return home to care for her dying mother. Set in a modern-day Taiwan, however, where established customs and beliefs conspire to influence social behaviour, the film offers a complex and nuanced portrait of a woman encountering both grief and sexual desire, all set against a backdrop of mystery and superstition. Liling’s ailing mother may be blind but she seems latterly to have developed an ability to communicate via a sixth sense. Meanwhile Liling has developed a relationship with an older biologist who rejects all phenomena that defy rational explanation. Nevertheless he creates pictures of alien worlds and the creatures that would evolve within them. In the film’s ambiguous and satisfying climax Liling is drawn towards an island where the mystery intensifies and takes fantastical form. “I think the starting point for me was that I really wanted to investigate if there was a connection between people outside of the known senses of feeling, smell, sight and sound,” comments Verbeek. “In the film I don’t answer whether there is some kind of sixth sense - I don’t stress it - but the film is obviously
about a modern daughter having problems believing this, but in the end when she sees what she sees on the island we do understand that at least she has the comfort of her own imagination.”
montages where this happens, and then that happens, it is not so much about cause and effect. It is really about the mental space where the film asks you to go, and it is really the audience members themselves who must find that space within themselves in order to enter this realm.”
The film assumed a higher level of poignancy for Verbeek when he was told last year that his own mother was gravely ill. “This is very much the story about the loss of a parent,” he stresses. “I have always been very afraid of losing my own mother… and the extremely strange coincidence is that she is dying at this moment. Although I have trouble believing things I can’t prove, it does seem to me that this isn’t just coincidence... Basically the timing of this film gave me the sense subconsciously that something like this was coming. I am intrigued by the connections there are between people that we don’t yet fully understand.”
‘It is a return to the basics of filmmaking’
So does he feel less a European filmmaker, one more shaped by a sense of Asian aesthetic? “What attracts me to making films in the East is the speed at which society is changing and the effects that has on people,” he concludes. “I started making films in Shanghai which is the epitome of this incredible fast growth. I have been inspired by many Asian filmmakers, but you might as well say I have been inspired by Antonioni as well. So for me, it is hard to localise a sense of style.”
“Nor does it tell you what to think about the film,” he continues. “It doesn’t say that she is now sad so we’ll put some sad music on. For me this is the essence of filmmaking, which is a photo graphic medium which also uses sound that creates an experience of the here and the now, and of the moment that it is shot. So in this way by having these moments one after the other what you are doing is creating a mental space, and in that way it is very pure. It creates the mental space of this girl who is witnessing the decline of her mother and who is wondering about the connection she has with the people around her, her family, or this friend who might be a lover. It’s all about connections between people.”
Verbeek claims that How to Describe A Cloud, which received post-production funding from the Netherlandds Film Fund, represents a return “to the basics of filmmaking”, using basic cinematic means. “For me, cinema is the most direct medium to explore the workings of the mind”. The film doesn’t eschew essen tials such as plot development, but plot is rendered secondary to other aspects of the film. “I think this film offers the audience an experience to tap into a stream of consciousness, rather then to be told a story that will explain itself,” Verbeek explains. “Every scene has a tempo and a way of shooting that (necessitates) a degree of concentration which really asks the audience members to be there at that place, at that time. It’s not a film full of
Currently developing his sixth feature, Verbeek divides his time between Europe and Asia. Later this year he will direct Full Contact for the Dutch Topkapi Film after he has pitched his Chinese vampire project Dead and Beautiful at CineMart 2013 (Dutch producer Lemming Film, co-producer Les Petites Lumières, Shanghai). How to Describe a Cloud Director: David Verbeek Script: David Verbeek Production: Conijn Film
Photo: Kris Dewitte David Verbeek
Go West Alex Pitstra freely acknow ledges that there is a strong autobiographical undertow to his debut feature Die Welt, which receives its Dutch premiere at International Film Festival Rotterdam. Geoffrey Macnab explains how. The story of a young Tunisian in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011 who dreams of heading west to start a new life in the Netherlands, the film echoes experiences of both the director and of his father. ‘Fort Europe’, as Pitstra nicknames it, appears to the Tunisian émigré hero as both a land of opportunity and a very grim and forbidding place where dreams can easily be shattered. “For me, it was a big experiment. It was not that I knew exactly how it would turn out,” Pitstra reflects. “I didn’t want to make a film just about me or my experience. I wanted to make a film that would be more universal so I tried to integrate the elements into some kind of hybrid storyline.” The 33-year-old director has called the film “an exploration of both myself and of the person I could have been if my father had made different choices in life.” Growing up in the Netherlands, he says his relationship with Tunisia (where his father was born) was “non-existent.” He knew he had many relatives still living there but for a long period, he “denied” his own Tunisian heritage. He wasn’t in contact with his father, who had separated from his mother and had gone to live in Switzerland. “I accepted that he wasn’t part of my life but also felt angry about that and tried to push him away.” Having turned his back on his absent father and grown up in the Netherlands, Pitstra gradually
became more and more curious about his Tunisian roots. In 2005, after his father wrote to him, they finally had a reunion after many years without seeing each other. “The first meeting was strange but also good,” Pitstra recalls. Father and son walked together through the parking lot at Tunis airport. Alex was surprised by his father’s casual manner but soon discovered his father was as nervous as he was.
foray into filmmaking. When he was 15 years old, he directed a short video movie as part of a school project. “That was my first experience with editing, with tapes. It was magical but also frustrating. I had to work with people who didn’t listen or I had ideas that didn’t work.” After training as an audioengineer, Pitstra returned to filmmaking during his student days. While studying Audio-visual Communication in Leeuwarden, he made the short Mixtape in 2004, based on his own experiences as a dj/producer in the music industry. He then enrolled on a film course at the University of Groningen and directed the short, absurdist film Solex in 2006.
As a young Dutchman, Pitstra has witnessed changes in social attitudes in the Netherlands and, in particular, an increasing hostility to outsiders. “The tolerance (in Holland) is shadowed by another side of the coin which is indifference. As long as it is not bothering us, we don’t care about it,” he reflects on the old liberalism and how it has now changed in the Geert Wilders era. Pitstra produced Die Welt as well as writing and directing it. Raising the financing was a daunting task. Early support came from the local council in Groningen. Friends and relatives invested. He mounted an online crowdfunding campaign. (“You have to make a lot of effort to promote your project. If you weigh that against the income you get, it’s tough…(but) the thing you get is a really connected fanbase.”) Finally, when he had already done a rough cut, both the Netherlands Film Fund and Doha Film Institute supported the post-production.
for the film. He is also preparing a doc about his half-sister in Switzerland and her experiences of deracination, which mirror his own. In the meantime, as a director for hire, he is still turning out those Governmentcommissioned films. “I have to. Independent film isn’t big business, especially when you start out. I have to keep myself busy!”
“I suddenly realised this (filmmaking) is so much fun. I felt the energy again which I had had when I was 15,” the young director recalls of how he switched from music back to film. He cut his teeth as a tyro director making commissioned films for Govern ment agencies. He has also worked as a cinematographer. Pitstra thus has a working knowledge of every aspect of filmmaking from writing, producing and directing to photography, sound and music.
Pistra’s father saw Die Welt early on and was an enthusiastic supporter, even if he joked that he would have preferred his son to make a gangster movie rather than digging into such intimate moments from his own life.
Die Welt premiered recently at the Doha Festival. “When I came into the festival, I was a little bit scared because I heard rumours there were only 20 people attending screenings!” the writer-director confides. To his great relief, Die Welt was almost sold out. The audience stayed for the Q&A and was intrigued to discover the personal dimensions to the story.
The film may be Pitstra’s first feature but it’s far from his first
Now, the director is working on an international release strategy Die Welt Director: Alex Pitstra Script: Alex Pitstra, Thijs Gloger, Abdallah Rezgui Production: Alex Pitstra Media, Schaftkip Films
â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;I realised filmmaking is such funâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Photo: Wadad Hachichou
Rotterdam to Rio Two made docs focusing on the festival city of Rotterdam, the other one made a film about the harshness of life thousands of miles away in Brazil. See NL talks to three prominent Dutch documentarians in IFFR selection. Respected docmaker Hans Heijnen’s latest work Lee Towers, The Voice of Rotterdam (IFFR Spectrum) explores the life and career of Dutch crooner Lee Towers during the lead-up to a final one-night concert in Rotterdam’s Ahoy arena at the end of 2011. Heijnen says that the ragsto-riches, Las Vegas-style singer was one of the hardest subjects he has ever attempted to capture. “He’s likeable to everyone and rarely shows his dark side,” explains the director, who followed the singer for a year. “Leen Huijzer (that’s his real name) is always Lee Towers and he always acts as his show character. It’s very difficult to get behind the mask. When he saw the film the first time he was not happy with a couple of the scenes and he wanted me to take them out but I refused, telling him ‘no Lee, a really worthwhile documentary, or portrait, is about everything you are, not just the nice bits you want to show the world’.” The 55-year-old filmmaker started dabbling in documentary in the late 1980s after a three-year stint writing fiction scripts for producers Dick Maas and Laurens Geels at First Floor Films. The company had hired Heijnen on the back of his graduation horror short about a man terrorised by a fly, made in his final year at the Dutch Film and Television Academy in Amsterdam in 1985.
Heijnen’s break-through title was his 1989 Nice Weather, Mr. Pradhan! about a Nepalese anthropologist studying a Dutch fishing village. A year later, he made his first feature-length work Rockin’ Ramona about the music scene created by Dutch-Indonesian immigrants who fled to the Netherlands following Indonesian independence in 1949. Some 25 years later, Heijnen’s filmography comprises more than 30 titles ranging from the award-winning 1999 Lisdoonvarna, Lourdes of Love, about three bachelors attempting to find a wife at a match-making fair in Ireland’s County Clare, to the more recent Witness One Minute about a group of people wrongfully convicted of stabbing a teenager to death on the basis of shaky smartphone images.
who wasn’t a working artist, but he was a life artist,” comments van Lieshout. “The hospital deaths were a big thing here. Twenty-four people died in hospital.” It is the second time that van Lieshout competes in Tiger Shorts, following his 2010 Sex is Sentimental. “I’m a Rotterdambased artist and this time it is a film really about Rotterdam. It is a local situation. It is very interesting to see how the local people will react to it.” Van Lieshout recently received funding to the tune of €300,000 for his feature debut Werk, which promises to offer a transparent view of the working life in his home city of Helmond, as well as tell a hyper-personal story of the artist against the producer and of the collective against the individual artist. The funding is granted via the ‘de Verbeelding’ initiative overseen by the Netherlands Film Fund and the Mondriaan Fund. “For regular filmmakers this is not so much, but for artists this is a lot,” comments Janus producer Suzanne Weenink.
According to leading UK broadsheet The Guardian, Erik van Lieshout (whose Janus competes in Tiger Shorts) is the Ali G of art. It is a compliment that van Lieshout is happy to accept, although within a Dutch context he feels that his work has a more serious intent.
Brazilian-born documentarymaker Maria Ramos, who divides her time between Brazil and her adopted home of Holland where she studied documentary at film school, is in IFFR Spectrum this year with Hill of Pleasures. Preceded by Justice and Behave, the documentary is the final work in a trilogy of films examining the Brazilian law and justice system and the deep chasm between Brazil’s middle class and underclass. “I needed to take a break after Behave… I wasn’t sure for a while whether I would continue with the trilogy,” says Ramos of Behave, which followed the fate of teenagers being tried
Janus, a larger than life “Big Lebowski” type of man, was a resident of van Lieshout’s own suburb of Rotterdam South who died, with many others, after contracting a hospital virus. After his death van Lieshout bought the contents of Janus’s house and plunged himself into the dead man’s life, interviewing his friends and family not only about the eponymous subject but on matters such as the contemporary role of the artist and the effect of cuts to the art budget on output. Van Lieshout himself provides a series of existential monologues about what is expected of an artist. “This film is a memorial to Janus,
in youth courts, capturing their versions of the circumstances that landed them there through a series of re-enactments. “What I found painful were the youth correctional units which are not like those you find in Europe. Youth correctional units are places where youngsters are deprived of their freedom. Nobody likes to be jailed. It is depressing. And in Brazil, those facilities are often very bad.” Hill of Pleasures focuses instead on Rio de Janeiro’s revolutionary Police Pacification Unit (UPP) initiative – a law enforcement and social services programme aimed at cleaning up the city’s lawless favelas. Ramos spent four months following the work of one of the new units in the notorious Hill of Pleasures slum overlooking Rio and its landmark Sugarloaf Mountain, embedding herself in the community in a bid to capture the process from both sides. “Getting the police high command on board wasn’t difficult - the UPP is very conscious of the need to work with the press and create a good image - but getting the policemen and women patrolling the Hill of Pleasures to partici pate in the film was difficult. I also had to find people within the community who would support the film,” says Ramos. The director spent three months therefore getting to know the community before going in to shoot. “I talked about the first two films in the trilogy to the community and explained what I wanted to do. Fortunately there was a woman from the favela who had seen them and gave her support. I just started building the film from there.” Melanie Goodfellow and Nick Cunningham
Ramos embedded herself in the community in a bid to capture the process from both sides.
Still: Hill of Pleasures
Clermont connection Dutch filmmakers will be out in force at Clermont-Ferrand’s International Short Film Festival and Market this February. Melanie Goodfellow reports A record seven short Dutch films have been invited to the 35th edition of Clermont-Ferrand’s prestigious International Short Film Festival this year in what is becoming something of a tradition in recent years at the event. This year's event runs 1-9 February. EYE International chief Claudia Landsberger notes how, two decades ago, the short film was a lost genre in the Netherlands and one that needed a significant boost. “During this period EYE International (formerly Holland Film) became very active in giving Dutch shorts a respectable place in the international film arena,” she stresses. “Clermont-Ferrand has been growing in importance on the festival circuit and the Dutch connection that we established long ago has evolved in the same way. That is why this year we are again very well represented, to our great satisfaction. Once again we invited Christian Guignot, the festival's artistic director, to come to the Netherlands to see our new crop of shorts.” Dorien van de Pas, head of the Netherlands Film Fund’s recently launched funding strand New Screen NL, which is focused on new feature film talent, shorts and cinematic experiment, says the strong Dutch presence is no surprise given the public’s rediscovered love affair with the short format. “Shorts are more than simply a genre in the Netherlands... the format is taken quite seriously and attracts experienced filmmakers as well as newcomers,” she notes.
Dutch works selected for Clermont-Ferrand include established avant-garde artist and filmmaker Rosto’s latest work Lonely Bones, sequel to his No Place Like Home, and inspired by the filmmaker’s virtual band The Wreckers. The picture has qualified for Clermont’s National Competition for French shorts by dint of the fact that the filmmaker co-produced the film with Paris-based Autour de Minuit, which is also handling sales. Last year, Rosto’s 30-minute film The Monster of Nix screened in International Competition, winning the SACEM Award for Best Original Film Score.
Amsterdam-based sales agent Sydney Neter of SND Films is handling sales on both Man in Suit and Sevilla as well as Arthur van Merwijk’s animated short Snapshot, which receives its international premiere at Clermont, about a couple who head to the forest to take nature snaps but fail to see what is going on under their noses. The film played ahead of Madagascar 3 In the Netherlands. New Screen NL’s van de Pas says the Netherlands’ thriving shorts scene is due in large part to KORT! - a joint programme run by the Netherlands Film Fund, broadcaster NTR and the Mediafonds and CoBO. After an autumn call for projects (and a December submission deadline) the organisers greenlight some 10 shorts every January, which are then completed in time for a premiere at the Netherlands Film Festival in September. Both Man in Suit and Sevilla were made with the help of the scheme.
Shorts are more than just a genre in Holland Anna van der Heide, who is better known on the festival circuit for her family feature film Fidgety Bram, about a young boy who does not see the world quite like everyone else, is a contender in International Competition with Man in Suit. The 10-minute black comedy revolves around a hassled mother at a fun-fair who dumps her kids and goes off to explore by herself. In 2007, van der Heide’s MissiePoo16 won the Dutch Gold Calf for Best Short Film at the Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht.
“This year is the 13th edition. We get around 100 applications a year. It was set up originally because there were not a lot of slots for shorts. Now everyone knows there is this slot of 10-minute films and it has created a pipeline of short films. During the Netherlands Film Festival there’s a special night devoted to the shorts – there’s a real effort to make something special out of it,” says van de Pas. The other three Dutch titles screening in Clermont-Ferrand are Sandra Welte’s Lift Off and Jonathan Elbers’ The Ugly Kids’ Club (De Club Van Lelijke Kinderen) which are both screening in the Youth Programme and Noud Heerkens’ Nol King Ruter which will play in the Lab Competition aimed at experimental works.
Also in International Compe tition is Bram Schouw’s Sevilla about three youngsters who set off on a road trip to Spain that will change their lives forever. The short clinched the Golden Calf for Best Short Film in Utrecht in 2012.
Welte’s endearing animated short Lift Off follows the efforts of a clumsy, flightless bird living in the jungle of Puerto d’Azu to reach a female bird that he’s fallen for, perched high up in a tree. It is Welte’s graduation film after a four-year Bachelor of Design Study at St Joost Art and Design Academy in the southern Netherlands city of Breda. Elbers’ The Ugly Kids’ Club is a 25-minute live-action adaptation of a story by Dutch children’s writer Koos Meinderts’ about an imaginary land where a dictator decrees all ugly children should be arrested. Noud Heerkens’ Nol King Ruter stars the late Dutch dancer and choreographer Tom Lutgerink who holds a last supper with his friends and colleague to show off his skills one final time, and find a successor to fill his shoes. The live-action film, which is danced throughout, was shot in the final months ahead of Lutgerink’s death in 2012. It was Heerken’s third film made in collaboration with Lutgerink, after the 2000 Privé Story and 1995 Man in Motion, both capturing the artist at significant stages in his career.
Clermont-Ferrand Dutch shorts at a glance: Man in Suit Anna van der Heide, International Competition Production: Eyeworks Film & TV Drama Sales: SND Films International Premiere Sevilla Bram Schouw, International Competition Production: BALDR Film Sales: SND Films International Premiere Nol King Ruter Noud Heerkens, Lab Competition Production: Holland Harbour Productions International Premiere Lonely Bones Rosto, French competition Production: Autour de Minuit (FR), Studio Rosto A.D. (NL). Sales: Autour de Minuit World Premiere Snapshot Arthur van Merwijk, Kids Programme Production: Breinmonster Animation Productions Sales: SND Films Lift Off Sandra Welte, School programme ECO1 Production: AKV St. Joost Art Academy International Premiere The Club of Ugly Children Jonathan Elbers, School programme ECO1 Production: Netherlands Film and Television Academy NFTA International Premiere
Still: Man in Suit
Catching and Dancing Dutch auteur Nanouk Leopold will open Berlin Panorama with her latest opus It’s all So Quiet. She talks to Nick Cunningham. The elation Nanouk Leopold feels at the Berlinale selection for her latest film is tempered by a profound sense of loss following the recent and unexpected death of lead actor Jeroen Willems. In the film Willems plays the complex Helmer, a farmer who must look after his cantankerous, disabled father in their small farmhouse. Helmer’s life undergoes a sea change when the young worker Henk comes to work for him. “He is an extremely good actor,” Leopold comments, unable (or unwilling) to talk about Willems in the past tense. “The role he plays sits very much within what he can do very very well, to create an inner world in which there is a lot of pressure but from which nothing comes out. You don’t know what is inside bothering him, but you really believe in him.” For Leopold the experience of working on It’s all So Quiet was a revelation. Her previous films (Îles flottantes, Guernsey, Wolfbergen and Brownian Movement) are intense psychological studies of women. This time the cast is almost exclusively male. In addition she was, she claims for the first time, influenced by the standard 3-act narrative structure, and also for (again for the first time) she hints at an ending akin to a happy one. The major revelatory aspect of the project however was her decision to alter radically her way of shooting, embracing an altogether more fluid approach and (at least temporarily) ditching her rigid framing and static camera.
She employed a technique she calls ‘catching and dancing’, in which she, her DOP, camera assistant and sound director would move together as one organism in order to follow the actor(s), the objective being to capture the action before following it in a blur of choreographed movement.
can see how life is already slipping away for Helmer, and he really has to do something if he really wants to experience this fulfilment of really communi cating with, and loving, somebody.” The first cut of the film came in at over four hours, somewhat more than the final running time of 90 minutes. Nevertheless key within the final edit is an abundance of ‘found footage’, material that Leopold shot during a series of 10-minute takes (ten minutes being the duration of each camera card she used to record the action). She discovered if she let a scene develop beyond the scripted part she could yield better results. One such example of found footage is the lyrical bookend sequences that show a thoughtful Helmer walking through, and lying in, the long reeds by a willow.
“Everything became very intuitive and because we were all together in a small space such as a kitchen or a bathroom, we would all have to move all the time and not be in frame, so you really have to know what the other one is doing,” she explains. “You develop these antennae and you feel what the others are doing and react to it. You come to rely on gut feeling, not having to think too much, just seeing, hearing and reacting. We had a a pact. We all reacted with one mind to whatever happened.”
It frustrates him and then he doesn’t know why he is frustrated at that moment. These are very difficult things to play because you have to hide all these inner layers.” “It is terrible that he cannot see the film,” she concludes. “He was inspiring. I already had ten new films in my head for him. We made jokes that he would play a woman next and what frock he should wear. I can’t think now what to do with these ideas. I cannot make them with anybody else.”
“This approach was another revelation,” she underlines. “The unplanned things took over and replaced the plotted points, but in the process the film returned more to the tone of the book. The film itself dictated where it should go, but how it ended up at just 90 minutes is quite a miracle.”
Leopold was keen to portray the physicality of the men
Leopold reserves final comment for the late Jeroen Willems who, she believes, offered a highly nuanced portrayal of a man with a fractured past and whose sexuality is ambiguous. “He was very important for this role where the character has issues with his past, with his father and with his own body,” she stresses. “For him, in the film, it wasn’t about being gay or not gay. It would be too easy to describe it in this way. It is just that he has this urge to look at this man and he doesn’t know why. He is drawn there.
Leopold was also keen to portray the physicality of the men within her story, whether via the muscular vitality of Henk or the frailty of Helmer’s bed-bound father. Helmer himself, she explains, is the vulnerable link between the two. “It’s a film very much about ageing, a film about life and how, if you don’t watch out, it’s all over. Helmer is at this point in his life where he either becomes the father with an old body who dies, or he uses his body to love. When you see Henk’s youth and strength, you
It’s All So Quiet Director: Nanouk Leopold Script: Nanouk Leopold Production: Circe Films (NL), N279 Entertainment (NL), Coin Film (DE)
Sluizer in Berlin 80-year-old filmmaker George Sluizer finally completed Dark Blood nearly 20 years later than originally planned, and now the film is screening Out of Competition in Berlin. He talks to Geoffrey Macnab.
Sluizer, then back in Holland, received a message that the negative was about to be destroyed. He decided to save the footage. The insurers, he believes, turned a blind eye to what he was doing.
In 1993, after the sudden death of the movie’s 23-year-old star River Phoenix, director George Sluizer abandoned the project Dark Blood. “At that time, no-one was interested in whatsoever way in trying to finish the film,” he recalls. “The financiers, not. The producers, not. The insurers, not. Not even myself. It was a rather intimate film. We needed close-ups. This was not a film where you could just show legs of someone running and and pretend it was the same film. Everybody was finally in favour of letting the film go.”
“They knew about it and they had the key, which they were willing to give to me.”
The insurers paid out and the production was closed down. The material that Sluizer had already shot (75% of the script) was put into storage. The bank that had cashflowed the movie and the insurance company both claimed that they owned the negative. By 1999, the two feuding parties still had not reached a settlement. “Neither were interested in the material because it was nonedited. In my contract, I had (the stipulation) that the material could not be edited during the shooting,” the director recalls. “I had a deal that the negative would be edited immediately after shooting.” There was a mass of footage which didn’t make sense to anyone other than the director. Finally in late 1999, the insurers decided they would scrap the material, which was housed in LA. “They were fed up with paying storage costs.”
that he wouldn’t live. Against enormous odds, he survived. He claims he went for five hours without oxygen to his heart or brain. The surgeon in Lyon who plucked him out of what was thought to be a terminal coma was startled when Sluizer suddenly shouted: “Hurry up operating on me. I’ve got a plane to LA! I have a film to finish.” “He never had a dead man talking to him like that. He was a little surprised. He operated on me anyway and succeeded in keeping me alive.”
‘It became a drive, a must, an urgency.’
After a lengthy period of rehabilitation, Sluizer wanted to go back to work. He knew he had “to do something small.” He wasn’t in a fit state to shoot an epic new movie. He therefore made the documentary Homeland (2010), a documentary about the Middle East and the IsraeliPalestinian conflict. At the same time, he felt the urge finally to complete Dark Blood.
The director’s intention was to save the film from “moneyminded Americans.” At that stage, he had no specific intention to complete the movie but Sluizer took the footage back to Europe. Finally, in 2009, he brought it to Holland. “We had 700 kilos of material,” he recalls. “That’s the (picture) negative, the soundtrack (negative) and positive.”
die before you get out of my office!” Nonetheless, Sluizer finished the post-production, attended the premiere at the Netherlands Film Festival in September 2012 and hopes to be in Berlin for its Out of Competition screening. “I had to decide to go fast if I wanted to finish before it was too late!” Sluizer says of his rush to finish the movie. “I am still here...I guess if you ask my collaborators I am just as tough as I have always been...what keeps me alive is working. If I stopped, I guess I would die the next day.”
“After 2007, it became a drive, a must, an urgency. I felt it was probably worthwhile. I remembered that people told me it was good material 20 years before. I guess that I am a craftsman in the sense that I don’t like unfinished products.”
On its own, the film material was simply a historical curiosity. This was the last footage ever shot of River Phoenix, a young actor seen by some as the early 1990s’ answer to James Dean. Even so, there was no rush to invest in the conservation or completion of Dark Blood. The director struggled in vain to find a supporter like the late Henri Langlois, the maverick French co-founder of the Cinematheque Francaise, a figure who would do anything to save films he admired. “He would keep this fucking stuff in the bathroom if he had no space!”
Sluizer didn’t want to see his own creative work or that by his highly skilled technicians and cast go to waste. He spent two years editing the material. The director himself paid for much of the post-production. He also received support from the Netherlands Film Fund. In February 2012, the director was given further bad news regarding his health. “The most optimistic (doctor) gave me six months. The least optimistic said you should
In 2007, Sluizer suffered an aneurysm. He was told by doctors
Dark Blood Director: George Sluizer Script: Jim Barton, rewrite by George Sluizer Production: 2012: Sluizer Films, 1993: Scala Productions - Fine Line Features 26
Festival Fare Selected Dutch films at Berlinale 2013
Selected Dutch films at IFFR 2013
Co-production (Culinary Cinema)
Tiger Competition (Opening Film)
Director: Willemiek Kluijfhout Script: Willemiek Kluijfhout Production: Trueworks Sales: Autlook Filmsales (Previous festivals: Film by the Sea, IDFA, CPH:DOX)
Director: Pia Marais Script: Horst Markgraf, Pia Marais Production: Pandora Film Production (DE), Topkapi Films (NL) Sales: The Match Factory World Premiere
Director: Guido van Driel Script: Bas Blokker, Guido van Driel Production: Topkapi Films (NL), Menuet (BE) World Premiere - see page 14
Co-production (Generation Kplus)
Director: Vincent Bal Script: Vincent Bal Production: BosBros, N279 Entertainment & Prime Time (BE) Sales: Attraction Distribution (Previous festivals: Cinekid, Netherlands FF, Toronto International Film Festival, Jekino Festival (BE)
Director: Felix van Groeningen Script: Carl Joos, Felix van Groeningen Production: Menuet (BE), Topkapi Films (NL) Sales: The Match Factory (Previous festivals: Film Festival Gent)
Director: Ricky Rijneke Script: Ricky Rijneke Production: Rotterdam Films Sales: WIDE Management World Premiere - see page 8
Panorama (Opening Film)
Director: Nanouk Leopold Script: Nanouk Leopold Production: Circe Films (NL), N279 Entertainment (NL), Coin Film (DE) Sales: Films Distribution See page 24
Director: Asli Özge Script: Asli Özge Production: Bulut Film (TR), Kaliber Film (NL), Augustus Film (NL), Razor Film (DE), Soda Medya (TR), The Post Republic (DE) World Premiere
Director: Maria Ramos Script: Maria Ramos Production: KeyDocs (NL), Nocofo Filmes (BR) Sales: NPO Sales World Premiere - see page 20
Out of competition
Director: George Sluizer Script: Jim Barton, re-write: George Sluizer Production: Sluizer Films See page 26
Director: Ana Guevara, Leticia Jorge Script: Ana Guevara, Leticia Jorge Production: Control Z Films (Uruguay), Topkapi Films (NL), Bonita Films (Mexico), Komplizen Film (Germany) World Premiere
Director: Hans Heijnen Script: Hans Heijnen Production: Hans Heijnen Films World Premiere - see page 20
Mussels in Love
The Zigzag Kid
It’s All So Quiet
The Resurrection of a Bastard
The Broken Circle Breakdown
Hill of Pleasures
So Much Water
Lee Towers: the Voice of Rotterdam
Tiger Competition for Short Films
Tiger Competition for Short Films
Director: Erik van Lieshout Production: Erik van Lieshout BV See page 20
Director: Zachary Formwalt Script: Zachary Formwalt International Premiere
Director: Michiel ten Horn Script: Anne Barnhoorn Production: Pupkin Film Sales: M-Appeal European Premiere (previous festivals: Toronto International Film Festival) See page 12
Tiger Competition for Short Films
The Deflowering of Eva van End
How to Describe a Cloud
Big Screen Award Competition
Director: David Verbeek Script: David Verbeek Production: Can June International (Taiwan) World Premiere
Director: David Verbeek Script: David Verbeek Production: Conijn Film World Premiere - see page 16
Director: Ari Deelder Script: Ari Deelder Production: StudioRev World Premiere - see page 12
Tiger Competition for Short Films
Director: Sebastian Diaz Morales Script: Sebastian Diaz Morales Production: Sebastian Diaz Morales Sales: gallery carlier | gebauer (Berlin), gallery Catherine Bastide (Brussels) European Premiere (Festivals: Locarno FF)
Director: Jaap van Heusden Script: Rogier de Blok Production: IJswater Films World Premiere
Director: Alex Pitstra Script: Alex Pitstra, Thijs Gloger, Abdallah Rezgui Production: Alex Pitstra Media, Schaftkip Films European Premiere (previous festivals: Doha Tribeca Film Festival) See page 18
Tiger Competition for Short Films
The New World
Devastated by Love
Dead Body Welcome
Number Fourteen, Home
Director: Guido van der Werve Script: Guido van der Werve Production: Roofvogel World Premiere
Director: Kees Brienen Script: Desiree Duwel, Kees Brienen Production: De Productie, KINO International World Premiere - see page 12
Director: Diederik Ebbinge Script: Diederik Ebbinge Production: Column Film (NL), Grobbendonk Films (BE) World Premiere - see page 12
Photo: Victor Arnolds Still: The Family Way
Dutch industry analysis
Home Success Dutch movies may sometimes struggle to achieve inter national recognition and distribution but filmmakers are becoming increasingly successful at reaching their own domestic audiences, reports Geoffrey Macnab. The variety of films capturing cinemagoers’ imaginations at the Dutch box-office is striking. Around Christmas time, it is to be expected that children’s fare will have a special resonance for family audiences but epic dramas and romantic comedies have also been posting very strong results. Total box-office grew in Holland last year by 2.25% to €245 million. Although Dutch films’ share of the local market dropped slightly (to 16.3%), there have still been around 5 million visitors to Dutch films. Topkapi boss Frans van Gestel is in no doubt why his company’s romantic comedy The Family Way (Alles Is Familie) has been so successful. The film, on target to reach around 850,000 admissions, was released in late November. It was up against box-office giants as The Hobbit and Life Of Pi. “It (success) is always a combination of more than one factor,” van Gestel suggests, ticking off the reasons why The Family Way so appealed to viewers. First, it was seen as a loose sequel to 2007 runaway hit, Love Is All, also directed by Joram Lürsen (and seen by 1.4 million people). Plus it had one of the Netherlands’ most popular actresses in Carice van Houten (“one of the few stars we have”). This wasn’t just schmaltz. It’s a movie with serious themes and a lengthy running time. However, van Gestel suggests, local
audiences wanting an antidote to Hollywood blockbusters flocked to see it. “We were the alternative. We were the Dutch film!”
In the past, there has been a great divide between Dutch arthouse titles that screen at international festivals and popular mainstream movies. Van Gestel believes this divide is narrowing. Topkapi also produced this year’s opening film at Rotterdam, Resurrection Of A Bastard by Guido van Driel. The Topkapi boss cites this as an example of a ‘crossover’ film with both critical appeal and the chance to reach an audience. He compares it to ‘the Belgian wave’, the spate of new movies from Belgian directors led by the Oscar-nominated Bullhead. “If we want to get Dutch audiences back to the smaller budget films, we really have to tell clear stories and connect them with what is happening now in society,” van Gestel suggests.
The Family Way has been packing in audiences for over two months which suggests that word of mouth is very strong. “It’s quite easy to identify with the film. It’s about a family gathering in a big house,” the Topkapi boss suggests. “Releasing the film round Christmas, when you have a family feeling, gives good reason to people to buy tickets... we were the warm Christmas film for the family.” Ate De Jong’s The Blitz, about a young boxer and a wealthy female socialite whose romance is overshadowed by the Nazi invasion of Rotterdam in the 1940s, has racked up around 200,000 admissions. One of its producers, San Fu Maltha of Fu Works, points to its historical resonance. “The Blitz is about a national phenomenon which is, of course, very important Rotterdam being destroyed.” It helped, too, that the film had a well-known star in Jan Smit (also a pop star). The film was released on 20 December amid a blaze of publicity.
‘We were the alternative. We were the Dutch film’ Paul Voorthuysen of PVPictures is also basking in a recent success - that of kids’ movie Mees Kees (English title Class of Fun), about the misadventures of a young intern teacher at an elementary school. Released by eOne Benelux just after the Netherlands Film Festival (where it premiered in the autumn), Mees Kees was released in early October in time for the school holiday. After 14 weeks, the film was still in cinemas and had been seen by almost 600,000 people - quite an achievement given that it was a “matinee” title, generally only shown during the day and not in the evenings. Needless to say, Voorthuysen is now preparing a series of sequels.
Van Gestel and Maltha both believe that crossover Dutch films are now marketed far more effectively than in the past. In the case of The Family Way, van Gestel was able to draw on his knowledge of the release campaign for Love Is All. Distributors A-Film were very careful about how they spent the €500,000 in prints and advertising (P&A). The Family Way was aimed at a Dutch audience. While it might be ripe for remakes, van Gestel acknow ledges it is unlikely to sell widely abroad.
One advantage Mees Kees had was that it is based on a very well known children’s book. “The film works very well. It’s a very nice film, a positive film and it is really a film for children,” Voorthuysen states. (One problem with many other children’s movies, he believes, is that they’re made with an adult sensibility.) The film has a sales agent (High Point in the UK) but the challenge now will be to reach audiences in countries that don’t know the Mees Kees novels. The paradox is that Dutch films are booming at a time when the climate for Dutch production has become increasingly hostile. San Fu Maltha bemoans the fact that Holland still lacks a tax shelter. There may also be stormy times ahead as public cuts in film funding begin to be felt. The Dutch producers all acknowledge that selling mainstream Dutch movies abroad remains a formidable challenge. Still, as Voorthuysen points out, given that films like Mees Kees and The Family Way work so well with local audiences, it is churlish to complain too much. “You have different films with different ambitions...art films have more potential for travel than commercial films.”
MARK WASC H K E
S E A RC H I N G FO R YO U
A f i l l m b y No r b e r t t e r Ha l l (A’ DA M - E .V. A . )
I N C I N E M A S M A R C H 14 PHANTA FILM PRESENTS AN &ME FILMFUND PRODUCTION • IN COPRODUCTION WITH EYEWORKS FILM & TV DRAMA BELGIUM, UNAFILM & NTR • STARRING MARK WASCHKE, TEUN LUIJKX & VERÓNICA ECHEGUI, SPECIAL APPEARANCE ROSSY DE PALMA • WRITTEN BY NORBERT TER HALL AND OSCAR VAN DEN BOOGAARD
Photo: Viviane Sassen
BASED ON THE NOVEL “FREMDKÖRPER” BY OSCAR VAN DEN BOOGAARD • DOP RICHARD VAN OOSTERHOUT • EDITOR ISABEL MEIER • PRODUCTION DESIGNER PEPIJN VAN LOOY • SOUND DESIGNER TOBIAS FLEIG • MUSIC BY JASPER BOEKE • COPRODUCERS PETER BOUCKAERT, TITUS KREYENBERG & MARINA BLOK • DIRECTED BY NORBERT TER HALL & PRODUCED BY PETRA GOEDINGS IN COOPERATION WITH CINEART AND WITH THE SUPPORT OF THE BELGIAN TAX SHELTER FILM FINANCE, THE NETHERLANDS FILM FUND, FILM- UND MEDIENSTIFTUNG NRW, FLANDERS AUDIOVISUAL FUND, WALLONIA AND BRUSSELS-CAPITAL, COBO, THE MEDIA PROGRAMME-I2I AUDIOVISUAL, ALL DUTCH PARTICIPANTS, NTR