Van Warmerdamâ€™s Borgman
in Cannes Competition EYE: One Year On
Celebrating Dutch Lensers Retel Helmrich takes
RawÂ Herring to Tribeca Co-producing with
Germany and Denmark
A publication by the Netherlands Film Fund and EYE International
Issue #11 May 2013 Cannes/Annecy issue Download the free app for iPad and Android 1
View from The Edge Colophon
2 View from the Edge:
strong preference for new technologies. The vast landscape around them goes from works drawn directly on film by Oerd Van Cuijlenborg to Erik Van Schaaik’s formalist comedies, continuing from Red-End and the Seemingly Symbiotic Society by Robin Noorda and Bethany de Forest to Junkyard by Hisko Hulsing and Get Real! by Evert de Beijer, to mention the most notable short films of recent years. And I have not even mentioned the work that falls under the realm of contemporary, such as Michiel Van Bakel’s breathtaking Equestrian or the hypnotising [mu:sterman] – A Flood Story by Maarten Isaäk De Heer. There is no technical approach, consistent themes or unity in tone connecting these films, but a far-reaching cinematography with broad horizons is always a sign of good health. The only thing still missing is a strong feature animated film industry that could offer new outlets for producers and new possibilities to artists. I am looking forward to seeing how recent politics will help the development of animated feature film production as there is definitely enough talent in the Netherlands for these creations to stand out.
Marcel Jean, Artistic Director, The Annecy International Animation Film Festival.
See NL talks to EYE’s Ido Abram a year on from the institute’s move to its new home.
8-11 Master of Light:
How Dutch DoPs have mastered their craft.
12-13 Co-pro Heli in Cannes competition: See NL talks to Lemming Film’s Leontine Petit and Eva Eisenloeffel.
14 Dutch/German Bond:
Cannes meeting to pave the way for co-pro treaty. See NL reports.
15 Nothing like a Dane:
Cannes co-pro summit between Holland and Denmark. See NL investigates.
16-17 Cover feature:
The Dutch have a film in Cannes competition after a 38-year wait. Borgman director Alex van Warmerdam talks to See NL.
18-21 Being Alex:
The life and career of Dutch maverick director Alex van Warmerdam.
22-23 Lights Carbon Cut:
See NL reports on the Dutch Green Screen Competition, making its second outing this year.
24 A Mountain in Holland: See NL talks to Dutch sales house Mountain Road.
25 Producer on the Move:
See NL profiles Marleen Slot, destined for Cannes as this year’s Dutch Producer on the Move.
26-27 Exhibit EYE:
See NL talks exhibitions with EYE’s Jaap Guldemond.
28-29 Loss of Herring:
Doc supremo Leonard Retel Helmrich turns his lens on the Dutch herring industry in his new film Raw Herring. See NL trawls alongside.
30-31 Short Cuts:
News from the Dutch film industry.
32 Star profile:
Hadewych Minis, star of Alex van Warmerdam’s Cannes competition contender Borgman.
Photo: G. Piel/CITIA
6-7 Eye on EYE:
Marcel Jean, Artistic Director, The Annecy International Animation Film Festival 10-15 June 2013 Writing about Dutch animation is not easy. For decades the leading light of Dutch animation, Paul Driessen (David), worked in both his native land and Canada. While he developed his very own graphic cartoon style, adopted by many followers around the world, he didn’t lay the foundations of a national animation tradition. For his part, the late Gerrit Van Dijk entered the little explored territory of self-portrait (I Move, so I Am) and political commentary, producing a unique and inspiring body of work but without leaving any direct line of descent. The younger Michael Dudok de Wit has directed two classics (The Monk and the Fish, Father and Daughter), but his production of only four short films in over twenty years is too rare to be a driving force at a national level. Meanwhile, the excellent and even younger Piet Kroon (T.R.A.N.S.I.T.) put his talent to work at major American studios, including DreamWorks and Blue Sky.
See NL is published four times per year by EYE International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.
“I tried to go to another part of my brain to see what was there, to find a starting point. I had no idea when I started writing in which direction it should go.” Alex van Warmerdam. See page 16
Editors in chief: Claudia Landsberger (EYE), Jonathan Mees (Netherlands Film Fund) Executive editor: Nick Cunningham Contributors: Geoffrey Macnab, Melanie Goodfellow, Marcel Jean 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 E email@example.com Claudia Landsberger Head of EYE international E firstname.lastname@example.org EYE International PO BOX 74782 1070 BT Amsterdam The Netherlands T +31 20 589 1400 W www.eyefilm.nl Doreen Boonekamp CEO Netherlands Film Fund E email@example.com Frank Peijnenburg Head of Screen NL Netherlands Film Fund E firstname.lastname@example.org Jonathan Mees Head of Communications Netherlands Film Fund E email@example.com 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
Today, diversity is a typical feature of Dutch animation: the two important figures of the new generation, Rosto (Lonely Bones) and Adriaan Lokman (Barcode), have little in common other than a ground-breaking status and a
Cover still, and pages 2 and 3: Borgman Director: Alex van Warmerdam Script: Alex van Warmerdam Production: Graniet Film (NL), Epidemic (BE), Angel Film (DK), NTR (NL) Financially supported by: Netherlands Film Fund, Eurimages, CoBO, VAF, Danish Film Institute, Abraham Tuschinski Fund, Johannes Vermeerprijs, Mollywood Film Financing & Tax Sheltering. Sales: Fortissimo Films See page 16
Raw Herring “It had taken the Helmrichs a small eternity to win the trust of the community. The fishermen were suspicious of outsiders. So Leonard himself went out to sea four times, the voyages lasting between one and two weeks. ‘It was very difficult for them to grasp what kind of film I was making,’ Leonard recalls.” See page 28
Heli “Shot in and around Escalante’s central Mexican home city of Guanajuato, the film explores the devastating impact of drugs violence and state corruption on ordinary people.” See page 12
Photo: Frank van ’t Hof
Raw Herring Director: Leonard Retel Helmrich Script: Leonard Retel Helmrich, Esther Gould and Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich Production: In-Soo Productions Sales: First Hand Films
Heli Director: Amat Escalante Script: Amat Escalante Production: Mantarraya Producciones (Mex), Lemming Film (NL), Le Pacte (Fr), Unafilm (GER)
One year on It’s just over a year since the sleek, modernist EYE building opened just across the river from Amsterdam’s Central Station. Geoffrey Macnab reflects on the last 12 months with the new film museum’s Ido Abram. At the time of the new EYE opening, there was widespread apprehension as to whether the €38 million building with its huge exhibition space and four cinemas would be a success. Sceptics tutted that no-one would come and that the building, on which EYE had secured a Government-backed 25-year lease, would soon be seen as a white elephant. The target set last spring for visitors was 225,000 paid visitors per year - but the expectation was that it would take three years to reach this number. But Ido Abram, Director of Presentation and Communication at EYE, felt none of the apprehension of the naysayers. “My feelings about moving in were only excitement, because finally we could do all the things we had wanted to do for such a long time,” Abram says. The new building offers facilities light years ahead of what EYE had enjoyed in its old home in the Vondelpark and Abram’s enthusiasm was shared by visitors as a whole. In the first year, 720,000 people (almost half a million more than some had anticipated) beat a path across the river Ij (same pronunciation) to the new EYE building. (One unexpected consequence is that the pristine white interior walls of the new building have had to be painted several times.) These visitors have come to see films, visit the exhibitions, go on guided tours, enrol in educational
workshops or simply to hang out. “Not everything was working as well as expected but, in general, if you look at the successes, it is a mixture of the new films, the older films, the historical films, retrospectives - everything comes together,” Abram reflects on the different attractions EYE has offered. “Our programming is working absolutely the way we want it to work.”
newly refurbished Rijkmuseum also include EYE on their Amsterdam itinerary. “Even transfer passengers from Schipol (Airport) hop on the train and then take the ferry. They can do EYE, see the exhibition and be back at the airport in three hours,” says Abram, pointing out how easily you can reach the building. Alongside its cultural activities, EYE also has a commercial arm. If you want to have a conference, organise a banquet or even to get married, you can come here. But the real challenge now is to maintain the momentum at a time of fierce cutbacks for arts organisations in the Netherlands. “The Government is, of course, very happy that we are doing so well,” Abram says, but points out that the first year success isn’t a guarantee of financial security for the future.
‘the challenge is to maintain momentum...’ The ‘Found Footage’, ‘Stanley Kubrick’ and ‘Expanded Cinema’ exhibitions successfully drew the crowds and, to the staff’s relief, the Dutch media has been upbeat about the new building. “The reaction of the media was overwhelmingly positive,” Abram recalls. Even journalists initially doubtful that EYE could reach its targets have been won over.
Alongside the four cinemas in the new building, EYE has a ‘fifth screen’ (as Abram calls it) in its online portal. Through this, curated platform Instant Cinema offers experimental and art films while Scene Machine serves up intriguing fragments from the collection. Meanwhile, a new site called Film In The Netherlands aims to cover every aspect of Dutch film culture and history. “In the end, that should be the complete database for Dutch film.”
Looking to the next generation, EYE has been successful in capturing the imagination of Amsterdam’s school kids, who attend its educational workshops and screenings in huge numbers. Family films - a genre at which the Dutch have long excelled - screen regularly in the EYE cinemas. Dutch Oscar entry Kauwboy was a particular success last year. The Dutch film industry too has welcomed the new flagship building. “It has given a face to film in the Netherlands,” Abram suggests.
One obvious sign of the EYE building’s success is the constant glances being cast at it by other national film agencies around the world. If these agencies are feeling jealous, they aren’t yet showing it openly. “They are behaving very politely. I don’t feel (their) envy but the reactions are very positive!” Another positive sign is that the Mayor of Amsterdam is mulling over increasing the frequency of the ferries because of the incessant demand of EYE visitors. Not that Abram and his team are showing any complacency. “We always see things where we can improve,” he muses. “It’s a rather Calvinistic way of saying this, that the first year success was only beginner’s luck. We do our best to maintain our success.” It’s normal for a small dip in visitors in the second year of a museum’s success but Abram is confident that EYE’s 2013 offerings, including a Fellini retrospective and exhibition and an expansive Russian programme, will keep the audiences coming in.
EYE recently received good news about its long planned ‘collections centre’, a second new building in which to store all its riches. Due to the economic crisis, this project was postponed. Now, Abram reveals, the planning and financing is underway again and the hope is that the centre will be open in Amsterdam North by 2014/2015. “That’s another dream that seems to be coming true.”
EYE has also been courting tourists to Amsterdam - most of its screenings have English subtitles (many are in English anyway) - and there is evidence that visitors to the Van Gogh and
Photo: Bas Losekoot Ido Abram
Dutch Masters of Light
They are the “masters of light.” Without them, no films would be made, but their contribution isn’t always acknowledged. Geoffrey MacNab meets the cream of the Dutch cinematographer crop.
shot Alex van Warmerdam’s Cannes competition selection Borgman, argues that cinematographers need to accept that they are not there just to create spectacular imagery. Their job is to serve the film, not to show off their technique.
In the Netherlands in recent years, a new generation of cinematographers has emerged who have produced astonishing and groundbreaking work. There are also established talents who have been lighting and shooting movies for many years. One or two (notably Robby Müller and Hoyte van Hoytema) have built big international reputations for themselves.
What’s more, while he and his colleagues are at the forefront of Dutch cinema they also like to work outside the Netherlands. “Sometimes, I like to go with a little suitcase abroad,” says Erisman. He relishes the freedom and excitement of making films away from home. “In Holland, you know everybody but it’s also fun to meet new people. That keeps it fresh.”
Dutch cinematographers may increasingly act as a collective, and may have their own Cinematographers’ Society (many leading Dutch DoPs are now even represented by the same management team, The Birds), but speak to a cross-section of them and it becomes clear that they are a fiercely independent breed. They will help one another with technical information and advice, meet for drinks and casual conversation, but they also like to be left to work alone. “There’s a very friendly atmosphere between everybody, but in practice I find it very individual,” says young camera ace Jasper Wolf. “That’s my character. I always want to find out everything myself.”
Still: Nothing Personal
Given the nature of the Dutch industry, cinematographers need to be versatile. Most have credits that run the whole gamut from kids’ movies to arthouse cinema and genre fare. Budgets tend not to be high and the camera wizards need to know how to improvise. Director of Photography Tom Erisman, who Goert Giltay
the first cameramen in Holland who had an Aaton,” Giltay recalls. Gradually, he gravitated away from docs and more towards drama. “At some point, I experienced (the feeling) that shooting documentary was a bit confining,” he continues. “A lot of times, the person you want to film doesn’t want it (to be filmed) himself, or he is not allowed...it is difficult to explore or to expand your skills when you’re shooting only with one light and you have to make yourself as small as possible in order not to disturb the people you want to film.” Giltay ended up shooting such films as Jos Stelling’s No Trains No Planes (1999) and George Sluizer’s The Stone Raft (2002). “He tends to get his energy out of conflict,” Giltay reflects on the combustible but inspirational Sluizer. “It’s a little bit the Werner Herzog style.”
He very quickly found himself in demand. ‘Basically, I am self-taught,’ says van Gennep
Ask Guido van Gennep how he became a cinematographer and he explains that he was an ardent young cinephile, photographer and music enthusiast. He made his own art films (“art film is a very marginal existence I would say”) before enrolling as a director at Amsterdam’s Binger Institute. At first he was shooting his movies himself. His friends and fellow students soon started asking him to shoot their work too. He very quickly found himself in demand. “Basically, I am self-taught,” he states.
DOP Daniel Bouquet agrees. “When I travel, it inspires as well...I am also interested in other stories,” he stresses. Even so, they all leap at the chance to work with visionary Dutch directors, whether emerging talents like Ursula Antoniak and Sacha Polak or for well established auteurs like Van Warmerdam. Bouquet shot Antoniak’s 2009 festival success Nothing Personal.
Tom Erisman’s working relationship with the maverick Dutch filmmaker Alex van Warmerdam stretches back 20 years to 1992 when he worked second unit on The Northerners. “We have a lot of things in common, the same interests in music and art,” Erisman muses on why he and van Warmerdam
The cinematographers all come from very different backgrounds. Veteran Dutch DoP Goert Giltay began his career shooting documentaries for Dutch broadcaster VPRO, often in far flung places. “I never went down the assistant route. I bought my own camera early on. I was one of
Still: The Girl And Death
work so well together. “He trusts me all the way.” Erisman worked his way up the old fashioned way. He didn’t go to film school but started his film career as a production assistant. Slowly, he established himself in the camera crew, working as a best boy, a gaffer and, eventually, as fully fledged Director of Photography. He was given his chance by the late Theo van Gogh. “We met each other in a bar. He asked me, Tom, do you want to take risks?” When Erisman said yes, van Gogh promptly hired
The transition to digital In the Netherlands as elsewhere, cinematographers are in a transitional period, moving away from 16mm and 35mm to new digital formats. “In the beginning, I regretted it a lot,” Tom Erisman says of the shift from celluloid to digital. His early experiences weren’t encouraging but he has found an Alexa camera he likes using. “It’s a workhorse. That for me is most important.” Jasper Wolf suggests that film allows cinematographers to impose their vision on their material. “What I always liked about shooting with film is that you could make a decision to go for a kind of feel. When the film was processed, that (feel) would immediately be there. The disadvantage of digital at this stage is that the feel has to be created in the colour grading.” The irony, adds Daniel Bouquet, is that even when cinematographers shoot on digital, “we always try to make it look like film.” Giltay jokingly calls himself one of the “last of the Mohicans”, describing his reluctance to switch to digital. What changed his mind eventually was the richness and subtlety he was able to achieve using an Alexa on Jos Stelling’s period piece The Girl And Death starring Sylvia Hoeks.
him. Erisman shot all of van Gogh’s films and TV movies until 2001 (three years before van Gogh’s murder) when they had a falling out. It’s a collaboration he still misses. Van Gogh used to tell him, “I do the actors and you are my eyes,” and gave him extraordinary creative freedom. The career path of Jasper Wolf (who has shot such movies as Code Blue and The Deflowering of Eva van End) was quite different. He went to art academy and then to film school. After a very short stint as a focus puller and gaffer, he very quickly established himself as a DoP on commercials, and then features.
‘We were aiming for a physical experience for the audience’ Just as Erisman relishes working with strong-minded auteurs like van Warmerdam and van Gogh, Wolf speaks with huge enthusiasm of his collaboration with Urszula Antoniak on Code Blue. “We were aiming for a physical experience for the audience. She allows a lot of freedom but she also brings a lot herself to the table.” His enthusiasm is matched by that of Daniel Bouquet, another avowed Antoniak fan. “I think Nothing Personal is one of the best scripts I’ve ever read,” he says of Antoniak’s screenplay about a rebellious young woman adrift in rural Ireland. A DutchIrish coproduction starring Lotte Verbeek and Stephen Rea, this was an intimate and naturalistic film shot on a modest budget.
studied graphic design. “But I felt I didn’t want to become a painter or an artist.” He flirted with photography and acting but eventually decided that cinematography was his vocation. At film school, he met young director Sacha Polak whose debut feature Hemel he ended up shooting. The Dutch don’t have a big star system but the cinematographers savour the opportunity to work with talents like Sylvia Hoeks, Lotte Verbeek and other such glamorous figures. Guido van Gennep was cinematographer on Famke Janssen’s directorial debut feature Bringing Up Bobby (2011) starring Milla Jovovich. “She (Jovovich) said to me “I’ve got 5 to 10 good years left so I want to look my best. She put it on the line and said will you help me with that?’,” the DoP recalls the celebrity model/actress telling him. This isn’t the kind of request Dutch cinematographers often receive from local actors and actresses.
Single Shot Cinema Alongside his own films, multi award-winning documentary maker and virtuoso cinematographer Leonard Retel Helmrich is a pioneer of what he calls ‘Single Shot Cinema’. Leonard made the highly stylised and much acclaimed Indonesian trilogy The Eye of the Day, Shape of the Moon, Position Among the Stars using this method. This spring he was in Las Vegas to present his latest invention, the OmniRig. In Helmrich’s own words, this device is “small and light” and allows the camera to travel through space “like a mosquito,” buzzing round people and getting very close to them.
The Dutch industry is small enough for everyone to know everyone else. The cinematographers are competing for the same jobs but all the evidence indicates that they are coming together as never before. “It’s very open,” states van Gennep. “I don’t know how it is in other countries, but here in Holland the camaraderie is huge, I would say.”
Still: The Last Days of Emma Blank
Still: Life in One Day
Unlike the steadicam, the rig is light and easy to use. It is also relatively cheap. “I heard only the words ‘awesome,’ ‘fabulous’ and ‘well done,’” Helmrich’s sister and business partner Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich says of the response to OmniRig at the Las Vegas trade show. The OmniRig follows on from Steadywings, an earlier, almost equally lithe and light rig that Helmrich designed. He is known as a documentary maker but is currently planning a first dramatic feature. Poker Play, as it is likely to be called, will be shot in 3D using the new equipment. The idea is to film it in a single shot. “I really want in all senses to apply my philosophy of single shot cinema,” he states. The film will start with young people around a table and will look very static... and then the camera will start moving. As anyone who has seen Helmrich’s work can testify, the cinematography is often astounding. The camera moves with an ease and fluidity that defies belief.
The 31-year-old Bouquet was an accomplished draughtsman who
Dutch Connection Lemming Film’s Leontine Petit and Eva Eisenloeffel talk to Melanie Goodfellow about Cannes competition title Heli - and about co-producing across the four corners of the earth. Amsterdam-based co-production powerhouse Lemming Film is back at the Cannes this year as co-producer on Mexican Amat Escalante’s Palme d’Or contender Heli. On the face of it, the picture is 100% Mexican. Shot in and around Escalante’s central Mexican home city of Guanajuato, the film explores the devastating impact of drugs violence and state corruption on ordinary people. Behind the scenes, however, the picture bears all the hallmarks of a textbook European co-production. Produced by Jaime Romandia of Mexico City-based Mantarraya Producciones, the feature is a four-way co-production involving Lemming Film’s Eva Eisenloeffel, Jean Labadie of Paris-based Le Pacte and German Titus Kreyenberg of Cologne and Berlin-based unafilm. Lemming Film – which was in Cannes last year as a co-producer on Serge Loznitsa’s competition title In the Fog – is a respected player in Europe’s co-production scene. Lemming boarded the Heli project early on in the financing process after it was presented at the International Rotterdam Film Festival’s Cinemart co-production market in 2010. “We knew and loved Amat’s previous films Sangre and Los Bastardos,” says producer Eisenloeffel. “Jaime was already known to us because he had produced Carlo Reygadas’ Silent Light, as well as Post Tenebras Lux (with Dutch producer Topkapi Films).”
Lemming film felt the script for Heli was strong enough to win the support of the Netherlands Film Fund, especially as the body already knew Mantarraya, having put money into Post Tenebras Lux. The Fund stumped up €75,000 for Heli, budgeted roughly at €1.1 million. In the meantime, Mantarraya Producciones also made a successful application to France’s Fonds Sud (which has since morphed in to the World Cinema Fund) through co-producer Le Pacte. “We started working with Mantarraya on the budget and decided there was scope for bringing in another European country,” says Eisenloeffel. Drawing on contacts, Lemming brought in unafilm’s Kreyenberg, who in turn made a successful funding application to the Cologne-based NRW federal film fund and also pulled FrancoGerman broadcaster Arte/Zdf into the project. “When we set-up a co-production, we really look at what is best for the film and try to find the right partners,” says Eisenloeffel. Despite having helped put the finance in place, they did not make it on to the set in Mexico. “Of course I would have loved to have gone but I didn’t want to waste money that I felt should go to the film,” she says. “Titus went at the beginning of the shoot because Germany provided the camera equipment so he took it over and got it through customs, and then stayed a few days. ” Much of the post-production, however, was done back in Europe. The grading, for example, was done at Amsterdam-based, post-production house Filmmore. “Amat and his director of photography Lorenzo (Hagerman)
spent three weeks in Amsterdam to work on the grading,” says Eisenloeffel. “It’s great that a company such as Filmmore has the opportunity to show what it can do at Cannes.” Lemming Film hopes that Heli will pave the way for further co-operation with Mexico. Eisenloeffel has just started Dutch financing on Belgian Gert van den Berghe’s third picture Lucifer, a co-production with Brusselsbased Minds Meet, which the filmmaker would like to shoot in Mexico.
‘... bears all the hallmarks of a textbook European co-production’
well,” says Eisenloeffel. “It’s very exciting.” After Heli, upcoming titles on the Lemming Film slate include compatriot Marco Van Geffen’s In Your Name, co-produced with French Kinoelektron and Belgian A Private View: Christmas Moose, a co-production with Swedish Svensk Filmindustri and Dajav Film and Belgian Anchorage Entertainment, and Norwegian director Eskil Vogt’s Blind, a co-production with Oslo-based Motlys AS.
The Cannes Un Certain Regard program also has a Dutch touch with the new film Omar by the Dutch-Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad in selection. Abu-Assad previously had huge international success with his film Paradise Now.
Leontine Petit joined a Dutch delegation that was invited to the Guanajuato International Film Festival last year where the idea was expressed that Mexican funds would be willing to invest in Dutch and/or European films. “Until now it has always been the other way round. It’s early days but it’s an interesting development nonetheless,” she says. In the meantime, Eisenloeffel and Petit are in the throes of preproduction on an exciting Dutch-Chinese co-production, a China-set vampire picture by Dutch filmmaker David Verbeek, whose R U There? was in Un Certain Regard in 2010. A major sales agent deal is expected to be announced during Cannes. “I know David from film school – we graduated eight years ago together. He’s lived in Shanghai for a number of years so he knows the city and Chinese society really Heli Director: Amat Escalante Script: Amat Escalante Production: Mantarraya Producciones (Mex), Lemming Film (NL), Le Pacte (Fr), Unafilm (GER)
Nothing Like A Dane
Photo: Lucia Guglielmetti
“In general, the Dutch and the Scandinavian people are quite similar,” Frank Peijnenburg, Head of Screen NL, tells Geoffrey Macnab on the eve of a special Dutch/Danish summit at the Cannes Film Festival on Saturday May 18th.
Doreen Boonekamp and Peter Dinges
When producers and high level representatives from the Dutch and German film industries meet in Cannes on the morning of 20th May, they will be paving the way for a full blown bi-lateral coproduction treaty between the two nations, reports Geoffrey Macnab.
whatever their cultural differences. During 2011/12 there were several meetings at locations from Utrecht to Berlin where top producers sat down with one another. “As a result of such meetings, the producers themselves said ‘let’s go further, let’s improve this relationship,’” Dinges points out.
“The co-production treaty is only one aspect of the co-operation between Germany and the Netherlands in the field of film,” says Peter Dinges, CEO of the German Federal Film Board (FFA).
All being well, the new coproduction treaty will be signed before the end of the year.
Dinges traces the beginning of the partnership between the Germans and the Dutch to 2011 when the first meeting took place between the countries’ respective culture ministries. At the same time, he had been meeting with Doreen Boonekamp, CEO of the Netherlands Film Fund. Early on, the intention was simply to “improve the relations” between the industries of two countries that were very close,
smaller” than its German counterpart. “They are a widely spread industry with their regional funds, national funds and TV companies,” she comments. Major funders and state and regional bodies will be attending the session in Cannes. The Netherlands Film Fund, Nordmedia, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, Filmstiftung Hamburg, Filmstiftung NRW, Film Fund Bavaria, the German Federal Film Board and MDMMitteldeutsche Medienfoerderung are all participating, as are 20 Dutch and German producers. There will be an “expert table” on children’s film (an area in which the Dutch excel) with representatives including Lemming Film from the Netherlands and Hamster Film from Germany.
The Dutch don’t currently have a soft money incentive or regional film funds. However, Dinges says that German producers are looking primarily at their “creative potential.” “It’s first of all about bringing creative people and their energy together,” the FFA boss states. “It’s not about only economical values and economical strength. It’s about enrichment of future coproductions and it’s about sharing a common market also.”
“Children’s film is one of the areas where we can certainly co-operate and where Germany can learn a lot from our Dutch colleagues,” Dinges observes.
Boonekamp acknowledges that the Dutch industry is “much
“Also, smaller arthouse films, full of ambition and creative potential, could also be a common ground for the two countries.” In recent years, Germans and Dutch have collaborated on several youth and children’s films. “It’s important to coproduce with countries you feel attached to,” notes Frank Peijnenburg, head of Screen NL. This is a sentiment echoed by both Boonekamp and Dinges. Co-production policy, they suggest, can’t be rigid or doctrinaire. It has to be about shared creative interests and not simply an opportunistic exercise in pulling together budgets. “I feel that with this coproduction treaty, the signed paper is not the main thing. It is only the result of a very, very good relationship,” Dinges says of the already close collaboration between the Dutch and German industries.
Noemi Ferrer Schwenk, the Danish Film Institute’s (DFI) in-house International Producer, makes the same point, referring to the “mindset” that the Dutch and Danes share as small, pragmatic mercantile nations who have the same appetite for doing business. Thanks to Lars Von Trier, Thomas Vinterberg et al Danish filmmakers have a very strong international profile. The Dutch (with their first film in competition in Cannes in 38 years in the shape of Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman) are trying to boost their presence abroad. That’s why leading producers from both countries will come face to face in “one to one” meetings at the two hour session. The idea for bringing the Dutch and Danes together was born at Rotterdam’s CineMart last January, when there was a lunch for Nordic and Dutch producers. This was followed by a meeting at the Berlinale between the Film Fund and the DFI. It was here that the Dutch and Danes hatched their Cannes meeting. “When we were talking there, it was pretty clear that the producers from both countries never really had a platform to meet each other,” Schwenk states. The interest from the two countries in each other’s filmmaking cultures has long been apparent. Last summer, a major programme of “New Dutch
Film” was shown in Copenhagen. Nonetheless, some feel that the co-production relationship between the Netherlands and Denmark is slightly lop-sided. The Dutch would like to see more of their films receive Danish support. That’s why top Dutch companies like Lemming, Topkapi, Waterland, Rinkel and Fu Works will all be in attendance at the Cannes event.
managed to sort out a reciprocal way of working and we are very happy with that,” Boonekamp agrees. “We haven’t been discussing that (a treaty) yet. We are just working out a good way of co-producing within the possibilities that the Convention offers.”
These producers aren’t coming empty-handed. Amid widespread cutbacks in spending elsewhere, the Netherlands Film Fund has set aside extra money for co-production. “It is very, very important for us to co-produce,” Peijnenburg states. “It’s a major need.” In recent years, the Danes have supported such projects as Borgman (through Danish outfit Angel Films) and Urzula Antoniak’s Code Blue (through Zentropa). The hope now is that they will board yet more Dutch features. “The playing field for the Dutch film industry is international. We should enable our filmmakers to operate on this field in order to get their films financed and screened abroad,” says Doreen Boonekamp, CEO of the Netherlands Film Fund. “In spite of all the cuts, we are very keen on stimulating international co-production and collaboration on the best level we can.” There aren’t plans for a full blown co-production treaty between Denmark and The Netherlands. As Schwenk points out, it currently makes more sense (and involves less red tape) for the countries to work together under the terms of the European Convention on Cinematographic Co-production. “We have
‘It is very important for us to co-produce’
Noemi Ferrer Schwenk
Borgman in Cannes The wait is over. Finally, after 38 years, the Dutch have a film in Cannes competition. Borgman director Alex van Warmerdam talks to Nick Cunningham. In all of his films Alex van Warmerdam has served up a satisfying blend of dark humour, macabre plot twists, psycho/ sociopathic character traits (many within characters played by himself), imagery both grotesque and painfully beautiful, and a tendency towards absurdism worthy of Buñuel in his pomp. Borgman, his eighth film, offers much of the same but is different in one respect. The film is a dark fable, with matters macabre and supernatural at its core, and this time around a deeper sense of seriousness is in evidence, horrific and psychologically disturbing, but nevertheless delivered with measure and restraint. Borgman is a film made by a director in control of his craft. The film opens with a quotation - “And they descended upon the earth to strengthen their ranks” before we see a shotgun-wielding priest, played by Pierre Bokma, hunting down three men who live in a warren of their own making, beneath the forest floor. Their leader is the eponymous Camiel Borgman. There is something of the night about Borgman, a man both deeply charismatic and otherworldly, who talks his way into the lives of an affluent middleclass couple, their three children and their nanny, all living comfortably on the forest’s fringes. When installed there, he begins to wreak murderous havoc, and calls upon his followers to aid him in this task.
Van Warmerdam’s screenplay was, he explains, a story told in the writing. “I was a little bit, vaguely interested in horror, in something nasty,” he says. “I tried to go to another part of my brain to see what was there, to find a starting point. I had no idea when I started writing in which direction it should go.”
for screen. So first day on set he resembled a prophet; emaciated, with wild hair and a long beard. Then, half way through the film, when he formally applies for the job of house gardener (having creatively murdered the previous incumbent), his hair is newly cut and his face is clean-shaven. “The moment it all came off he looked like a totally different person,” points out van Warmerdam. “I was surprised what was underneath.”
The crucial starting point, he claims, was when the tramp-like Borgman turns up at the door of the house and claims that Marina, the matriarch, was once his nurse. “When I wrote that scene, for a long time that felt like really something. Maybe she was his nurse, maybe they had had a relationship, and so during the writing I found my way and I developed the story.”
... first day on set he resembled a prophet; emaciated, with wild hair and a long beard
Van Warmerdam himself appears as follower Ludwig, a nononsense homicidal fixer who performs surgical incisions in the backs of each of the children. Whether he is putting something in or taking something out is unclear. “That is the big question. I don’t know. Both answers are possible of course. Maybe the removal of an essence,” the director speculates.
What follows is a disturbing, uncanny and at times deeply lyrical tale of murder, abduction and diabolism. The film may eschew overt gore, but nevertheless the image of three murder victims, floating upside down in wavy green pond water, their heads cemented into equally-sized buckets, is both intriguing and disturbing. Equally memorable is the image of a naked, sprite-like Borgman who comes to Marina at night as an incubus, crouching over her, filling her dreams with terrors and monsters and violent sex. The opening scene in which the earth collapses into the matrix of tunnels built beneath the earth is spectacular.
Previous van Warmerdam films have a deeply rooted comic core - the two preceding films, Waiter and The Last Days of Emma Blank, are downright hilarious. But laughs are not in abundance this time around. Not that that was the director’s intention when writing the screenplay. “Eventually there was less humour in the film than in the script, but Job ter Burg is a very good editor, so we gave many viewings to one or two people, trying to find the film hidden in the material, and we took out a lot of information and a lot of humour, and made it more serious than it was on paper. “It is a film about fallen angels, who need people to sustain them,” van Warmerdam concludes. “It is a real horror story, and even though I do not like the word, it is a little bit occult. Which is not at all my style - but it happened.”
The character of Borgman is played by Flemish actor Jan Bijvoet, whom van Warmerdam describes as Belgium’s “best kept secret”. Prior to the film, Bijvoet had turned his back on acting for two years, preferring to direct, feeling no compulsion therefore to self-groom either for stage or
Industry Boost The Cannes selection is a boost to a Dutch funding infrastructure that has placed increasing emphasis on its arthouse output, and which has implored its producers to find international co-production partners to boost investment. Over the past few years more and more Dutch films, mainly international co-productions, have been wooing and wowing selectors and juries at all the major international festivals, and (young) art house directors such as Nanouk Leopold, David Verbeek, Sacha Polak and Boudewijn Koole, to name just a few, are assuming heavyweight status on the festival circuit.
Borgman itself is a co-production with Flanders and Denmark, countries with whom The Netherlands has close co-production ties. A co-production bilateral treaty already exists between the Netherlands Film Fund and the Flemish Audiovisual Fund (VAF) while a top-level summit has been arranged for Cannes 2013 to discuss continuing and augmenting Dutch/Danish collaboration in the future.
Borgman Director: Alex van Warmerdam Script: Alex van Warmerdam Production: Graniet Film (NL), Epidemic (BE), Angel Film (DK), NTR (NL) Financially supported by: Netherlands Film Fund, Eurimages, CiBO, VAF, Danish Film Institute, Abraham Tuschinski Fund, Johannes Vermeerprijs, Mollywood Film Financing & Tax Sheltering. Sales: Fortissimo Films 16
Being Alex Alex van Warmerdam isn’t a man prone to navel gazing. Ask him about the factors that shaped him as a filmmaker and he his loathe to offer much by way of psychological insight, reports Nick Cunningham. But somewhere in his childhood a particular aesthetic was formed, he reckons, and he tells an interesting and revelatory story about his journey to school everyday when living as a child in the south of Holland. “My youngest brother not so long ago told me that one of my great inspirations must have been the Ian McEwan short story The Last Day of Summer, about a canal and a drowning, and yes, I remember that it made a big impression on me,” he says. “Because in my youth I lived for five years outside a town, and there was a swamp and there were ditches and stories about how that they tied girls to trees within the Black Wood. And I passed it everyday, and you could drown in that swamp, and afterwards I was always fascinated by underwater.” Of course these are major motifs in his work. There isn’t a van Warmerdam film that doesn’t feature a sinister wood, a protagonist in mortal danger, the use of water as a means of extermination, and myriad other motifs. “But I don’t have a talent for analysis, especially of myself,” he continues. “Also, it doesn’t interest me so much to find out where it comes from, and when I do sometimes have a little thought about it, I don’t get very far. I can only think that it has something to do with the first impressions that I had as a child. My father was a stage master, so my first memories were in a theatre, one that we lived above. I was already too young when I
saw Psycho and already too young when I read Kafka, so my first cultural acquaintance was with dark things, with writers who were much too difficult for me but who opened up a certain horizon… I found out that I had a natural interest in the dark side, the weird side… combined with humour of course. I’m not very serious, and the humour is always there. But where all this comes from, I really don’t know.”
depicting instead a grey and rural (and distinctly non-idealised) Holland whose inhabitants become brain-addled when they encounter a particular dress. Once again it is murderous and disturbing, and the world within the film is infused by a kind of domestic diabolism that feeds like a virus. Little Tony (Kleine Teun, 1998) started life as a play (van Warmerdam is one of the Netherlands’ leading playwrights and theatre directors), and is set on a small farm. The main characters are a childless couple (Brand, an illiterate farmer played by van Warmerdam, and Keet, played by Annet Malherbe, van Warmerdam’s real life partner of many years) and schoolteacher Lena, played by Ariane Schluter, a stalwart member of the director’s acting company. In the film Keet encourages a sexual relationship between her husband and the schoolteacher and determines to keep for herself the offspring of that liaison, killing the mother in the process.
‘Cezanne painted one mountain many times, so it is not forbidden’ Van Warmerdam has made eight films, each of which reveals a director possessing of a tormented and vagabond curiosity. He will argue that they are all infused with humour (which they are), and that each film is a reaction to, or is made in direct response to, the previous one. His first film Abel (1986) trumpeted the arrival of a new and considerable talent, but its very smallness (in terms of its cast and its studio-bound status) determined that his next film The Northerners would be made in an altogether different way. Referencing the small town, mid-West aesthetic of David Lynch, The Northerners’ production necessitated the planting of a fake wood and the construction of a one-horse, one-street town, populated by an altogether bigger cast, each with his or her own motivation whether evil or benign.
Grimm, a modern telling of the Hansel and Gretel fable, is similarly themed, even if the scenario is radically different. Again we see how a couple deploys homicidal means to protect or secure their happiness. A malevolent farmer (played by Frank Lammers) forces the young Jacob (played by Jacob Derwig) to fornicate, at gunpoint, with his sex-starved wife. Later, when the film relocates to Spain, the happiness of a rich and incestuous brother/sister pairing can only be guaranteed if the kidneys of Jacob are surgically removed for transplant.
Then came The Dress which was stripped of the gouache colour processes of its predecessors,
“I was not aware of that motif,” van Warmerdam points out. “Sometimes I write something
On the set of The Last Days of Emma Blank
Alex van Warmerdam
and it looks familiar and then I find out that I have done it already, five or ten years before, so I have to take care not to repeat myself. On the other hand, I’m also not afraid of it. Cezanne painted one mountain many times, so it is not forbidden.” The director points out that Grimm is the only film that he his actively looking to re-cut. Back in 2003 he edited out a vital wedding scene in which an actor performed poorly, and in which the light looked overly “kitsch”. The film, he believes, suffered as a result of his edit. “That is the core of my wish - to find out if this film is better with the wedding - and then I can recut some more. So I am curious. I have the idea that I can make the movie much better.”
‘A couple deploys homicidal means to protect or secure their happiness’ Van Warmerdam’s Waiter is an out-and-out comedy and one in which the director best shows off his acting talents. He plays a downtrodden waiter who, in a style reminiscent of a playful Woody Allen, remonstrates with the screenwriter who is creating such a miserable life for him. “It started with a wish to play myself as a waiter,” he says. “That was something for me. I started writing and the story developed during the writing, and I suddenly had the idea that he was being written by a writer and I realised ‘ah, now I know what to do’, and then the script was finished in two months.” “As an actor I am very limited - I am aware of that,” van
Warmerdam continues. Despite this assertion he has cast himself across a range of demands, whether these be borderline psychopathic (The Dress), as a kleptomaniac postman (The Northerners) or as a dog (The Last Days of Emma Blank). “I am my own director so I don’t do anything that I am unable to do. Already during the writing I rehearse all my lines out loud so that they sound good already behind a table. So everything which is too difficult for me, like crying or getting hysterical, I don’t write for myself. It is all written with my own limitations in mind. I call it Japanese style. Being there, standing there - that is my forte. Not doing too much.”
Borgman reunites many actors who have worked extensively with van Warmerdam in the past, such as Schluter, Malherbe (who also works as van Warmerdam’s casting director) and, latterly, Eva van de Wijdeven (The Last Days of Emma Blank). “They are all actors who intuitively understand my music,” the director comments. “If I work with an actor who, on a natural basis, doesn’t feel the way I have to speak, the way I have to move, then it’s a problem for me.”
Still: The Northerners
Nor does van Warmerdam feel comfortable with actors who overintellectualise on the part they are asked to play, nor those who feel that overt psychological interpretation is necessary, or indeed welcomed. And as for acting in a way that is anything other than naturalistic - that is not to van Warmerdam’s taste at all.
As a dog in The Last Days of Emma Blank he is particularly effective - defecating to order and fornicating with human legs, as dogs do - but eventually in the film the requirement to play canine passes and he reverts to human type. Emma Blank is a matron who rules a household and team of domestic staff with a rod of iron. But this is all a sadistic whim, because the staff are her close family all of whom are prepared to humiliate themselves in order to inherit their part of the family fortune. When it transpires that there is no fortune, they feel no particular compunction to keep Emma alive.
Still: The Dress
“You have to understand that, for me, any psychological approach is taboo,” the director insists. “Play what is on the paper. And don’t fill it up with rococo movements or big pauses, like Anthony Hopkins who steals movie time by looking away before he says something - I don’t like that. I don’t like excessive movements or use of props. Jean Gabin told Henri Garcin (another van Warmerdam regular) ‘never touch your face’.
Still: Little Tony
“Of course you must be prepared to make an exception. It’s not a dogma, otherwise we would be like robots. But (in assuming overt actorly mannerisms and gestures) actors tend to look for a comfort zone, it’s the first place they go to. ‘Look at me, I’m acting’. And they want to fill in their character with their own personal psychology. And that’s when I say, just act the words on the page. I didn’t write them for nothing.”
And then there is Borgman, his current film selected for Cannes competition 2013 . And soon there will be Number 9, just a working title as it describes his ninth film, and one which he is keeping tight-lipped about, although a synopsis from the IFFR CineMart catalogue reveals that it is the story of a man who receives an important assignment that needs to be executed on his birthday.
Lights, Carbon, Cut! 2013 marks the second edition of the Dutch Green Filmmaking Competition. Melanie Goodfellow reports. There are not many productions where the cast and crew bring their own plates and cutlery to the set in a bid for a more environmentally friendly shoot. It was one of the more unusual green tactics employed on the shoot of Anielle Webster’s short film Leven, the winning production in last year’s inaugural shorts-focused Dutch Green Filmmaking Competition. “We did the washing-up,” says Amsterdam-based producer Trent of NFI Productions, who was named Dutch Green Filmmaker of the Year for his efforts to embrace environmentally friendly filmmaking on the short. “We also raided second-hand shops and provided everyone with their own cup with their name on it.” “A lot of the locations had natural light so were able to cut down on the use of artificial lighting… we used two or three small lights and a system of mirrors,” he continues. “It’s hard to implement green innovations on a grand scale for a short, but a series of small initiatives can have a cumulative impact… The key to making the film more sustainable was to get the crew thinking about it way before shooting. If I’d waited until we were on the set it would have been too late. The film industry is kind of traditional and it’s hard to break old habits.” The Green Filmmaking Competition was launched in 2012 by Amsterdam-based Strawberry Earth - a design blog, events platform and deal site promoting sustainable products and practices - with the support
of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation which stumped up for a €20,000 prize. “We felt there wasn’t a connection between the Dutch film world and sustainable practices,” says Roos de Jager, head of communications for the festival. “Strawberry Earth is about inspiring cultural creatives because we think those are the people who inspire everyone else to live a more sustainable life – film professionals are really creative people but not many have adopted sustainable practices.”
NTR, the Media Fund and the CoBO Fund, supporting the production of ten short films by upcoming and established filmmakers annually. All the shorts produced under Kort! will automatically participate in the Dutch Green Filmmaking Competition as well, which will offer a €12,500 prize this year. The partners are already backing each project to the tune of €73,500. “Working with the Kort! programme is the next step in making the film industry greener because we will be working with a mix of young and established filmmakers,” says de Jager. The eight participating projects range from Chauffeur, directed by Guido van Driel - whose The Resurrection of a Bastard opened the International Film Festival Rotterdam this year - to upcoming young director Joost Reijmers’ Pony Place. As part of the initiative, Strawberry Earth organised a workshop last February to help inspire all the participants. It featured speakers such as Juhi Shareef, a sustainability consultant with the Colin and Livia Firth-backed London-based Eco Consultancy, as well as Christiaan Maats, founder of the biodegradable sneaker company OATS Shoes. The contest’s official ambassadress is In Bruges actress Thekla Reuten. “We want to help filmmakers think out of the box… which is why we invited people like Christiaan Maats… he’s a very inspiring guy,” says de Jager. The Netherlands Film Fund hopes the competition will encourage sustainability within filmmaking across the board. “It’s an area that is still at pioneering phase ... we see the competition as a way of learning about sustainability and perhaps
‘Oscar submission Balance was shot using LED lights…’ Six shorts, running less than 10 minutes, selected out of some 60 submitted proposals, competed in the first edition. “People really got into it. There were a lot of different solutions,” says de Jager. “One film, Hoogtepunt, produced by Sabine Smits, used a solar-powered camera. Trent’s project focused on slashing waste. There were no plastic cups. Anything left over from the catering was taken to a children’s farm and he got people to come to set by bicycle - simple but effective green solutions. Another contender Balance, which went to be the Netherlands’ short Oscar submission was shot only using LED lights.” For the second edition, Strawberry Earth is again joining forces with the Netherlands Film Fund to incorporate the contest into the long-running Kort! competition – a joint programme run by the Fund, broadcaster
Photo: Daria Mnych Thekla Reuten at the 2012 Dutch Green Filmmaking Competition
even developing benchmarking tools and policies,” says Renee van der Grinten, consultant for Experimental Film and Documentary within the Film Fund’s New Screen programme, who helps oversee the initiative. In the meantime, the competition already seems to be having an impact on the practices of those who were involved in last year’s edition – big and small. “I am now working on Jochem de Vries’ psychological thriller Cornea,” says producer Trent. “The crew is too big to get them to bring their own cutlery but we’re using an energy-efficient PANI light, have done away with a generator and also use smaller trucks by planning in advance… I bumped into one of the crew on Leven the other day who told me he was still using the same cup... it’s a small thing but it’s a start.”
A Mountain in Holland When Sjef Scholte formed sales entity Mountain Road he was determined to provide an effective, Netherlands-based, platform for the sale of Dutch films internationally. He talks business with Nick Cunningham. The key to selling, argues Sjef Scholte, is to devise an argument so compelling that there is no reason to say no. This has been his philosophy since he and partner Danielle Raaphorst launched Mountain Road in 2010 to export the best of commercial Dutch fare to international cinemas and broadcasters. As producers themselves of commercial Dutch films they didn’t want to rely upon overseas agents whom they felt may not have had the “feel” for Dutch product. When they resolved to build a sales arm to export their own films it seemed logical to sell other Dutch films too. The company’s growing library currently contains some of the most celebrated mainstream Dutch titles of recent years, including Reinout Oerlemans’ Nova Zembla, The Blitz (Ate de Jong) and Matthijs van Heijningen’s The Gang of Oss. Scholte’s sales pitch is simple. He is not just selling the film, he is selling the marketing package too, designed to maximise the chances of success across all buying markets. He points to the example of Steven de Jong whose commercial family films are big international sellers for Mountain Road. “What’s more, his films are very successful in the local market,” comments Scholte. “Because when we make a sale to a country we always tell them about the marketing approach we did in Holland. For Penny’s
Producer on the Move Don’t be fooled by the name of producer Marleen Slot’s production company Viking Film – Marleen is Dutch, not Scandinavian, confirms Melanie Goodfellow. “It’s named after the place where I grew up at the top of Holland, known locally as Vikings Island, because according to local myth the Vikings buried treasure there,” says Slot, who will be unveiled as the 2013 Dutch Producer on the Move at Cannes in May.
Shadow (2011) we told them (international buyers) about the marketing campaign that we did with the Dutch publisher, and we successfully put them in contact with publishers in their own countries in order to make the film more successful.”
‘an argument so compelling there is no reason to say no’ Another example of Scholte’s holistic sales approach is the successful Loving Ibiza (Johan Nijenhuis) that sold to, among many other territories, Russia and Germany. “They were so interested in the way that we did the Dutch marketing that it was for them the final reason to buy it,” Scholte points out. “We told them about working with airlines and the film advertising that we agreed on seat pillows over a half year before, getting across the message that the film would be in theatres in January 2013. We told them that Ibiza itself was very interested in putting in money to the promotion of the film, as the island is very interested in attracting German and Russia tourists.”
The aim of the European Film Promotion initiative is to assist European producers in finding partners for their upcoming projects, to strengthen industry networking opportunities and to offer a platform where the producer’s potential can be recognised. Slot, 31, launched her company in 2011 after seven fruitful years at Lemming Film, where she worked alongside co-founding CEOs Leontine Petit and Joost de Vries on pictures such as Vivan Las Antipodas, My Joy, Tony 10 and Snackbar. “They taught me everything I know. It was their idea that I attend EAVE with my first proper project Tony 10 in 2007,” says Slot, who is also a member of the Atelier du Cinema Europeen (ACE) network. In the 18 months since she launched Viking, Slot has already built up an impressive slate. Productions in the works include Sacha Polak’s documentary New Tits about a woman’s decision to have a mastectomy to prevent breast cancer, which is due to broadcast in the Netherlands next October, two television dramas by a pair of upcoming
So for Mountain Road, a sale is more than a signature on the dotted line? “Yes,” Scholte answers. “And that is why we are stronger than anybody else because we know what we can do on a local level, and we try to find an angle for a distributor in a certain country to do the same. Since our films don’t have international stars we have to find other arguments to make them an interesting proposition for a buyer.”
Dutch directors, and a handful of shorts including Chauffeur by Guido van Driel, director of The Resurrection of a Bastard. Top of Viking's slate is Polak’s next film Zurich, about a woman who discovers that her lorry driver partner, following his death in an accident, had another wife and family. “We’ve been close friends for a long time. We met through mutual friends before I even went into film,” says Slot of Polak. “While I was at Lemming, we made the short film Brother to see whether we could work together. We didn’t want to harm our friendship.” Slot is adept at co-producing. For Zurich, she is working with Belgian production outfit A Private View and the German Rohfilm. The film has already secured the backing of the Flemish Film Fund and the German regional fund Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung (MDM), and is awaiting support from Eurimages. “I am really keen to talk to people about the project in Cannes,” says Slot. Beyond her own projects, Slot is also a co-producer on Brazilian director Gabriel Mascaro’s Bull Down, with the backing of the Hubert Bals Fund Plus – alongside Brazil and Uruguay – after meeting the filmmaker at Rotterdam’s Cinemart coproduction market. “It’s been a really busy year… and this year promises to be busy too which is great - I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
‘Slot has already built up an impressive slate’
Photo: Hanneke Lindenburg
Photo: Cindy Heijnen
EYE for Exhibition When you have 1200 square metres of exhibition space at your disposal within what many consider to be Holland’s most stylish architectural construct, where do you start? And how do you hope to meet audience and professional expectations? EYE exhibition czar Jaap Guldemond talks to Nick Cunningham about his first year in charge. Jaap Guldemond came to the EYE film museum with a reputation. As an art historian of some renown, and curator at two of the Netherlands’ most iconic museums of modern art Eindhoven’s Van Abbemuseum and the Boijmans in Rotterdam Guldemond had already successfully fused the visual arts with the medium of cinema, working with artists such as Isaac Julien, Steve McQueen and Douglas Gordon. He had also worked closely with then-Rotterdam Film Festival (IFFR) chief Sandra den Hamer on the festival’s highly successful Artist in Focus programme. So when den Hamer assumed directorship of EYE, Guldemond seemed the preferred candidate for the exhibition job - smart and articulate, and somebody who understood visual media better than most, as well as knowing how best to work and exploit museum space. But the stakes were high. The building was expensive and extremely high profile, and nobody other than the truly faithful could confidently predict that the whole venture would be a success. Exhibition footfall itself was targeted at 80,000 in the first year, a huge number given that the building’s primary function was as a cinema. So what rationale did Guldemond apply to
the task at hand? He takes up the story.
from Paris but improved radically by the (simultaneous) projection on vast screens of Kubrick’s masterworks. Secondly, Guldemond thought it essential to home in on a theme of major relevance to the film world, hence his emphasis on the use of found footage. Thirdly, he wanted to focus on the history of avant garde film and fourthly, to explore the borders where cinema and the visual arts meet. His Expanded Cinema exhibition, in which participating artists Isaac Julien, Fiona Tan and Yang Fudong were allowed to break away from the framework of the silver screen and project their work on multiple surfaces, met the latter criteria with style, with intellectual relish and with considerable aplomb.
“Most of the cinematheques in the world, what they do is to make a permanent collection of the history of cinema by exhibiting old machinery, old projectors and stuff like that,” he explains. “But Sandra really didn’t want that. We knew from the experience at Rotterdam… that we would focus
‘The stakes were very high’ on the filmmaker and on the artist, dealing with cinematic grammar. The main starting point is that... we are focussing on exhibitions that are not about something, but which are the film/art itself. The film world is quite strict in the way it is mainly feature-based. But for me this is not the most interesting part. Of course I have seen thousands of feature films but for me the real interest of cinema is its broadness as a concept. It can take many different forms. So this was one of my starting points in developing the exhibition policy.”
“Yes, the response was enormously positive,” Guldemond points out. “I think many people didn’t know what to expect from a new film museum, but then most people after they saw the exhibitions were really flabbergasted… Eighty per cent really liked them very much and now see them as one of the main parts of the EYE. It is very interesting because other colleagues from the film world were worried that what we were doing was a little too highbrow, with found footage from obscure artists for example, but I am always trying to make exhibitions that you can enter at different levels. So even if you know nothing about films or visual art or contemporary or whatever, there is always a kind of level that you can enter - even if it is just a visual level.”
At this point we should cut to the chase. Guldemond’s first-year exhibitions exceeded targets by more than 50%, attracting in excess of 125,000 paying customers, in the process tapping a very lucrative revenue stream. But the success of his Stanley Kubrick, Expanded Cinema and Found Footage exhibitions was rooted, he argues, specifically within the application of four basic principles.
Guldemond predicts a secondyear lull in attendance numbers, given that public and professional curiosity was so ably satisfied in Year One, but he sees
Firstly, he wanted to programme a focus on a cinematic giant, hence the Kubrick exhibition. This exhibition was imported in
Photo: Bas Losekoot
no reason to change tack in his programming policy. April 2013 saw the opening of an exhibition centring around the work and life of Dutch master filmmaker and photographer Johan van der Keuken. This precedes EYE’s keynote Fellini exhibition in Summer 2013 during which prominence will again be placed on grandiose projections of the Italian filmmaker’s most baroque and fantastical scenes and sequences. A Brothers Quay exhibition will herald in Winter 2013. Guldemond is looking forward in particular to an event dedicated to experimental cinema’s (identical) twin luminaries. “I was working with the brothers two years ago and I had an idea for a show, but they were then committed to one at MOMA. But ours will be different. What interests me is not only the brothers’ work but the sources they use for their inspiration, the Polish posters that influenced them, the anatomical and medical instruments (supplied by the Wellcome Trust). We are going to show these within the world that the brothers use to create their own work. “And so I will call the exhibition The Universum of the Brothers Quay,” Guldemond concludes with relish and aplomb.
Loss of Herring Leonard Retel Helmrich’s films have been feted from IDFA to Sundance. Now he is tackling the Dutch obsession with herring. Geoffrey Macnab reels him in. As a cinematographer and director, Leonard Retel Helmrich is famous for his use of “single shot camera” - the extraordinarily lithe and inventive shooting style seen to most spectacular effect in Indonesian films like Shape Of The Moon (2004) and Position Among The Stars (2010). No-one expected him to make a film about the Dutch fishing industry, however. That is why his new feature doc Raw Herring (codirected by his sister Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich) comes as a surprise. The film premiered at Tribeca in April 2013 where it was received rapturously. “I’ve been shooting films in Indonesia. I was always far away. People thought I was living outside the Netherlands. I wasn’t even regarded as a Dutch filmmaker,” Leonard recalls. “They thought I was some kind of foreigner in my own country.” The director responded with enthusiasm therefore when Dutch producer In-Soo Radstake and his producing partner Esther van Messel proposed a herring doc. You couldn’t make a more Dutch film than Raw Herring. It helped that both Leonard and Hetty were firm fans of the new Dutch herring delicacy (the Hollandse Nieuwe). They love to eat the raw fish. “We eat seven or eight at a time!” Hetty volunteers. However, there was a wider story to tell here too. Only two boats remain in the once vast Dutch herring fishing fleet. In making Raw Herring, the Helmrichs were
following in the path of legendary Scottish documentary maker John Grierson who, in 1929, had directed Drifters, a silent classic about the British herring industry. Grierson had chronicled the moment at which fishing became industrialised. Now, a little over 80 years later, the seas have been so exhaustively over-fished that the profession is in near terminal decline.
statistics about the decline in herring fishing, or with talking heads. Instead, he wanted to get as close to the fishermen as he could. On board the Wiron, as the boat was called, he recorded every aspect of these fishermen’s daily lives: how they catch the fish and how they fillet and package them. For Raw Herring, Leonard shot a whopping 300 hours of footage. Hetty and her son Jasper were also intimately involved in the creative process, shooting second unit and helping winnow down the material. They are now mulling over making a second film on the fishermen that would be based on the footage that didn’t make the final cut. Raw Herring is visual in tone and concentrates on what happens at sea. A second film could potentially follow the story of what happens to the herring and the fishing families on shore in more detail.
In the community of Katwijk, fishing for herring isn’t just a livelihood, it gives the community an identity and a sense of pride. However, as Leonard quickly discovered, these were changing times. “Even though they (the fishermen) were Dutch, it was very hard for me to understand what they were saying,” Leonard recalls of his time on board. The fishermen took their religion seriously - most were committed Christians - yet spoke in very salty slang. “Most of the time, they were either talking about soccer or sex!”
Hetty still marvels at the way Leonard filmed at sea. “Most people will be amazed by the shots and will (ask) how it was possible,” she says of shots that give the impression the camera is shooting from high in the air - as if from a helicopter - or swooping under water. Yes, Leonard acknowledges, the film is a change of direction from his Indonesian trilogy but he also points to the similarities. “You come very close to the characters...you feel as if you’re connected to them,” he states.
‘Leonard went out to sea four times, the voyages lasting one or two weeks’
His sister agrees: “It’s the same emotion (as in the earlier films.)... in the opening, it’s a fishing boat. You’ll see it is underwater, going up and down. You will be with the birds, you will be with the fish… and you will feel what the fish are thinking when they are stuck in the net!”
At the Rotterdam Film Festival earlier this year, Hetty met Frederic Boyer, the former head of the Quinzaine in Cannes who is now artistic director of the Tribeca Festival. “Frederic asked me ‘do you have a film?’ I told him about the herring film.” Boyer was immediately intrigued.
What’s more, it had taken the Helmrichs a small eternity to win the trust of the community. The fishermen were suspicious of outsiders. So Leonard himself went out to sea four times, the voyages lasting between one and two weeks. “It was very difficult for them to grasp what kind of film I was making,” Leonard recalls. The fishermen expected that he would be shooting TV news-style reportage and, at first, they were keen to talk directly to camera and to explain what they were doing. Only slowly did they begin to accept his unobtrusive, intuitive style of filmmaking, which is based around observation and long takes.
Raw Herring was originally commissioned for Teledoc, a collaboration between the Dutch Public Broadcasters, CoBO-Fund and the Netherlands Film Fund, to make feature-length docs for a wide TV audience. It will soon be seen on Dutch television but the chances are that it will also have a lengthy life in cinemas following its Tribeca screenings. Hetty confirms that she has received many inquiries from other festivals. Esther van Messel’s First Hand Films will oversee its international sales.
As he explains, his method is to follow his instincts. He didn’t want to fill his movie with
Raw Herring Director: Leonard Retel Helmrich Script: Leonard Retel Helmrich, Esther Gould and Hetty Naaijkens-Retel Helmrich Production: In-Soo Productions Sales: First Hand Films 28
Still: Raw Herring
Dutch Industry News
Still: Lonely Bones
Cannes Marché 2013
Photo: Ilona van Genderen Stort
Dutch films screening in the 2013 Cannes Market are:
Five Dutch short films have been selected for the upcoming 37th Annecy International Film Festival (June 10-15), three of which are in International Competition.
EYE is among the finalists in four categories for the FOCAL International Awards, that acknowledge the best use of archive material. The nominated films and projects are: Karel Doing’s Liquidator (for the category Best Use of Footage in a Short Production), the website Film In Nederland (Best Use of Footage on non-television Platforms), EYE’s Desmet Collection (Best Archive Restoration/Preservation Project) and Shoes (1916, Best Archive Restoration/ Preservation Title).
The long-awaited ‘summit’ between the Dutch film industry and the government took place in mid April. Senior film figures led by Doreen Boonekamp, CEO of the Netherlands Film Fund, were able to air their concerns about film policy - and budget cuts - with senior ministers. As the film representatives made clear to culture minister Jet Bussemaker and economic affairs minister Henk Kamp, the industry faces daunting economical challenges.
These are Chopper, directed by Lars Damoiseaux and Frederik Palmaers and produced by CTM LEV Pictures, Lonely Bones by ROSTO, a co-production between Autour de Minuit France) and Studio Rosto AD (NL), and A History of Pets, directed by Kris Genjin and produced by the Netherlands Institute for Animation Film. Screening out of competition is Oerd van Cuijlenborg’s A Direct Film Farewell, produced by Il Luster Productions and [mu:st?rman] - A Flood Story, directed and produced by Maarten Isaäk de Heer.
Each year FOCAL (the Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Libraries International) awards these prizes in order to acknowledge the work of researchers and restoration staff. EYE’s restoration of Shoes is up against the restored and preserved Le voyage à la lune by Georges Méliès. The website Film In Nederland (filminnederland.nl) has been nominated alongside the website of Beeld en Geluid (The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision). EYE has been nominated for two FOCAL awards in the past, for Beyond the Rocks (1922, an EYE restoration project) and for Ditteke Mensink’s Farewell (2009), that utilised 12 minutes of film material from the EYE collection.
See page 2 for Annecy artistic director Marcel Jean’s View from the Edge column in which he discusses
The key argument that Boonekamp and her colleagues put to the ministers was that the film incentives they are calling for wil have a positive effect on the audio-visual infrastructure and the economy. The experience of other European countries is that these incentives can drive employment and inward investment while paying for themselves. They are either “cost neutral” or actually turn a profit. If film production in the Netherlands remains underfunded, the Ministers were told, the country will lose out and neighbouring countries like Belgium (with its successful tax shelter) will benefit at Holland’s expense. This was a chance for some leading producers to make their case and for the Ministers to be brought up to speed on how exhibition and distribution works. There were no firm commitments for extra public funding for film. The two MInisters will now report back to the Parliament.
contemporary Dutch animation.
Further meetings between industry representatives and politicians are likely as Boonekamp and her colleagues call for urgent measures to be taken to protect the Dutch industry. “We will all do our utmost to have it solved as soon as possible - and to strengthen the international ambition and market share for Dutch film,” Boonekamp stressed.
The Zigzag Kid
Director: Bobby Boermans Script: Robert A. Jansen Production: 2CFILM in co-production with Just Film Sales: High Point Media Group A young psychology student is drawn into the dark and fearful world of a diabolic and mysterious app that starts to terrorise her.
Director: Leonard Retel Helmrich, Hetty NaaijkensRetel Helmrich Script: Ester Gould, Leonard Retel Helmrich Production: In-Soo Productions Sales: First Hand Films Doc about the Hollandse Nieuwe (Dutch New Herring), a phenomenon that has become a national cultural icon. (Festival: Tribeca 2013)
Director and script: Vincent Bal Production: BosBros Sales: Attraction Distribution On a train ride 13-year old Nono meets master-burglar Felix, and the adventure begins... (Festivals: Opening Film Generation - Berlinale 2013, Toronto International Film Festival 2012, Opening Film Netherlands Film Festival 2012)
The Domino Effect
Director and script: Paula van der Oest Production: Kasander Film Sales: ARRI World Sales If global economy came to a sudden stop what would be the effect on families worldwide? (Festivals: Netherlands Film Festival 2012 (Golden Calf for Best Director), Busan Film Festival 2012, Warsaw FF 2012)
Director and script: Ricky Rijneke Production: Rotterdam Films Sales: Wide Management A young Hungarian woman leaves aboard a cargo ship to keep her promise of finding a better life. (Festivals: Titanic IFF 2013 (Budapest), Festival of European Cinema Lecce 2013 - Best Photography and Best Supporting Actor, IFFR 2013- Tiger nominee.
Director and script: Diederik Ebbinge Production: Column Film Sales: Media Luna New Films One day, the tramp Leo wanders into the life of lonely Fred and turns his well organized life upside down. (Festival: IFFR 2013: Audience Award)
Director: Richard Raaphorst Script: Chris W. Mitchell, Miguel Tejada-Flores Production: Dark Sky Film (USA), Pellicola (NL, minority partner), XYZ (USA), Sirena (CZ) Sales: MPI Media Group After a battalion of soldiers is lured into the secret lab of a deranged scientist, they are forced to face off against an army of horrific war machines created from flesh and metal. (Festival: IFFR 2013)
Director: Alex Pitstra Script: Alex Pitstra, Thijs Gloger, Abdallah Rezgui Production: Alex Pitstra Media, Schaftkip Films (NL) Sales: Premium Films Debut feature of Dutch-Tunisian Alex Pitstra, an immersive picture of daily life in post-revolutionary Tunisia. (Festivals: New Directors/New Films 2013, IFFR 2013, Doha Tribeca Film Festival Official competition 2012)
Star Profile Hadewych Minis In 1999 Dutch actress Hadewych Minis graduated from the Maastricht Theatre Academy before moving to New York to study method acting at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. Since then her film roles in the Netherlands have been numerous, culminating in the role of Marina in Alex van Warmerdam’s Cannes competition selection Borgman.
Other films include: Phileine Says Sorry directed by Robert Jan Westdijk, Deep by Simone van Dusseldorp, Night Run by Dana Nechustan, Kicks by Albert ter Heerdt and Erik de Bruyn’s Nadine. In 2007 she played the lead role in Killer Babes by Dick Maas. In 2009 she acted in no less than four features: Amsterdam by director Ivo van Hove, Life in One Day by Marc de Cloe, My Queen Karo by Dorothee van den Berghe, and alongside
Barry Atsma she played the lead in the psychological thriller Two Eyes Staring by Elbert van Strien. In 2010 she played Maxima in Her Majesty directed by Peter de Baan. The same year she starred in Antoinette Beumer’s film Loft. Later this year she will feature in Marc de Cloe’s Mannenharten. Alex van Warmerdam comments of Minis: “With Hadewych, I didn’t see her at first for the part of Marina,
but Annet (Malherbe) was really pushing her for that role. She did a very good test and then, on the first day on the set - and I really don’t like to exaggerate when talking about actors - for me there was a type of miracle. She was really just right. And she continued to act the role very well. Very well.”