Verbeek shooting new film in Croatia â‚Ź20 million cash rebate to boost foreign investment The New Wilderness in Cannes Market The Dutch get animated Two golden EYE years New Dutch horror The Pool
Issue #15 May 2014 Cannes issue Download the freeÂ app for iPad and Android
A publication by the Netherlands Film Fund and EYE International
4 View from the Edge Herbert Schwering of Cologne-based COIN Film 6-9 Providing Incentive Spring 2014 sees the introduction of a €20 million cash rebate system to entice international productions to the Netherlands. See NL reports… 10-11 Commission Statement … and with a cash rebate system comes a national film commission to promote the advantages of shooting in the Netherlands. Fund director Doreen Boonekamp explains her rationale 12-15 Getting Animated: Three top Dutch animators working in Hollywood discuss their craft and the burgeoning animation industry back home in the Netherlands 14-15 Cats Tales The classic animated felines Pim and Pom have made it to the big screen. See NL reports 18 Hijacking Annecy Dutch films at the 2014 Annecy International Animation Film Festival 19 Bijker on the Move See NL talks to David Bijker, the Dutch Producer on the Move at Cannes 2014. 20-23 EYE 2 EYE Director of EYE Sandra den Hamer talks to See NL about the first two years in the museum’s new and iconic premises
See NL is published four times per year by EYE International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.
28-29 Nothing to Regret Dave Schram’s Regret has taken the festival world by storm over the past year. He talks to See NL
Editors in chief: Claudia Landsberger (EYE), Jonathan Mees (Netherlands Film Fund) Executive editor: Nick Cunningham Contributors: Geoffrey Macnab, Melanie Goodfellow and Herbert Schwering Concept & Design: Lava.nl, Amsterdam Layout: def., Amsterdam Printing: Roto Smeets Grafiservices Printed on FSC paper Circulation: 3500 copies © All rights reserved: The Netherlands Film Fund and EYE International 2014
30-31 Maps to Cronenburg See NL talks to EYE’s Jaap Guldemond about the upcoming David Cronenburg exhibition 32-33 Restoring EYE Sight Silent film curator Elif Rongen discusses the film museum’s recent successes in film restoration
CONTACT Sandra den Hamer CEO EYE E email@example.com
34-35 Wild at Heart The biggest Dutch hit at the local box-office in 2013 was the wildlife feature The New Wilderness, which garnered an audience nearing 750,000. See NL talks to producer Ton Okkerse
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
36-37 Dutch Courage Needed Amsterdam-based Brit Chris W. Mitchell discusses his horror pic The Pool, backed by San Fu Maltha’s Fu Works
Doreen Boonekamp CEO Netherlands Film Fund E email@example.com
38-39 Full Contact Dutch auteur David Verbeek is shooting his latest film in Croatia, three years after pitching the project at Cannes Atelier. He talks to See NL
Frank Peijnenburg Head of Screen NL Netherlands Film Fund E firstname.lastname@example.org
40-41 Short Cuts News from the Dutch film industry
Dany Delvoie International Affairs Netherlands Film Fund E email@example.com
42-43 The Netherlands in Cannes Dutch films at the 2014 Cannes Market
Jonathan Mees Head of Communications Netherlands Film Fund E firstname.lastname@example.org
24-25 A Woman of Substance See NL profiles Monic Hendrickx, star of Kenau, about the historical Dutch heroine Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer
Netherlands Film Fund Pijnackerstraat 5 1072 JS Amsterdam The Netherlands T +31 20 570 7676 W www.filmfonds.nl
26-27 Museum Piece Oeke Hoogendijk discusses her doc The New Rijksmuseum, about the turbulent re-opening of Amsterdam’s world famous museum
Cover still Full Contact Director: David Verbeek Script: David Verbeek Production: Lemming Film See page 38
Animator Piet Kroon. See page 12
Photo: COIN FILM / Heike Fischer
View from The Edge
German producer Herbert Schwering of COIN Film (Cologne)
We have shot four films as Dutch co-productions over the last few years; Brownian Movement and It’s All So Quiet directed by the very talented Nanouk Leopold, Supernova by Tamar van den Dop and in the past year Nena by Saskia Diesing. It’s interesting that all these films were made by female directors, but that’s just a coincidence. They are all very different films, but each one impresses with its own highly artistic quality. Nena is currently in post-production and the three others premiered at the Berlinale. On all of these I was the minority partner. In the coming year, however, we are developing a project with the German director Lola Randl and I have already spoken to producer Stienette Bosklopper about the script. She likes both the project and the director very much. I would be delighted if we could get a Dutch co-producer on board as a minority partner for the project.
When I assess past Dutch cinema, I was impressed early on by classics such as Turkish Delight by Paul Verhoeven, The Assault by Fons Rademakers or Amsterdamned by Dick Maas, which was both highly professional and very commercial. These were films which also reached audiences in Germany. In the Münster Filmclub we screened films like Der Weichensteller by Jos Stelling or the Oscar prize winners Antonia’s Line by Marleen Gorris and Character by Mike van Diem. Then in 1995/96 I curated a line-up of Dutch films in Germany and invited some directors and producers over to Germany. At the time Claudia Landsberger was my contact at Holland Film Promotion. We screened the current films made by directors such as Paul Ruven, Theo van Gogh, Mijke de Jong, Ben Verbong and Heddy Honigmann and I have to say I was extremely impressed by this huge amount of talent and creativity. In the 1990s German cinema was boring, and then suddenly you saw Dutch films like Abel and The Northerners by Alex van Warmerdam. Fantastic. Such idiosyncratic humour, full of tragi-comic moments and at the same time that deep, soulful melancholy. From the younger generation, it has primarily been Nanouk Leopold who has impressed me with her direction and creative, clear-cut powers of observation.
Providing Incentive As of Spring 2014, the Dutch production sector is boosted by a €20 million cash rebate scheme, devised to stimulate greater international investment in the local film infrastructure. Netherlands Film Fund CEO Doreen Boonekamp talks to Nick Cunningham. When internationally-minded producers go abroad to close their film financing, conditions will inevitably - and quite properly - be applied. One of these is that production monies, often generated at home, must be spent in the co-producing country. Dutch productions are no different, but over the past few years the effect of this enforced foreign spend has had a negative effect on the local industry. Put crudely, production money that was being spent abroad was not being spent at home, which meant that work was drying up within the Dutch production and post-production service industries. This in turn led to a dive in Dutch industry revenues and an inevitable diminished investment in local technical talent. Added to this a lack of fiscal or rebate-based incentives to international producers looking to shoot in the Netherlands and sector stagnation was inevitable. “We were aware of a significant drop in production activity within the Dutch industry itself over the past
years,” points out Netherlands Film Fund chief Doreen Boonekamp.
to get themselves better financed within the Netherlands.”
This state of affairs was underlined by a 2013 report by the respected global economics forecaster Oxford Economics that showed while employment levels in the film sector in Europe have shown growth of 11.5% since 1998, Dutch employment figures actually fell 16.7% in the same period. Their analysis pointed to a strong correlation between positive levels of state support and the health of the film and audiovisual sector. So it was patently obvious that something had to be done.
Called the Netherlands Film Production Incentive, the initiative comes into play May 2014 (upon the approval of the European Commission) and will allow the country finally to compete on equal terms with its European neighbours.
‘Attracting top international films and talent’ “There was a contradiction in developments outside the Netherlands compared to developments inside the Dutch industry itself,” points out Boonekamp. “But we had been in touch with representatives from the parliament and government proposing possible solutions, resolving at the end of last year with their significant enthusiasm to put aside 20 million euros towards a cash rebate system that would, on the one hand, attract international productions to the Netherlands and, on the other, offer more possibilities for Dutch productions
In essence, the aim of the Incentive is to transform a solid and dependable film production sector into a super fit and vibrant one, capable of attracting top international films and talent to the country, and dedicated to raising both production activity and the skills levels of the country’s creative and technical film professionals to the highest levels. The scheme is open to applications for feature films and feature-length animated films with a production budget of at least 1 million euro, and to feature length documentaries with a production budget of at least €250.000. A planned theatrical release and at least 50% of the production budget should be in place upon application. In addition, in order to ensure the cultural objectives of the Incentive, a test of qualifying characteristics will be conducted. Applications should meet at least three of the ten cultural criteria to be eligible, and
Shooting Nanouk Leopold’s It’s All So Quiet (2013)
applications that tick the right boxes will be further ranked on the basis of a points system. This will determine the impact of a production on the audiovisual infrastructure and film culture in the Netherlands, the (cross border) development of creative and technical talent and the promotion of the Netherlands as a production location.
‘The aim is to reach a level playing field’ Every year there will be four application rounds but as we are so far into 2014, this year there will be just three, the first deadline being June 3 2014 when a budget cap of €9.7 million will be applied. The second and third deadlines for applications are September 2 and November 4 2014, both with a budget cap of € 4.85M. Boonekamp is satisfied that these measures will prove adequate to stimulate the Dutch industry, both financially and culturally, as well as in terms of talent development. They will also, she adds, allow the country once more to claim bragging rights as a genuinely competitive international player. “Our aim was to reach a level playing field so that we could really team up again with our international partners,” she
Shooting Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman (2013)
stresses. “But the bottom line is that producers need to get their productions made, so for the Dutch it is of real importance to have more substantial finance available, allowing us to become a lead partner within productions made with the international film industry.” “So the Netherlands has always had a very open attitude towards co-production, but until now it has been lacking the money to be an important partner in the process. With this initiative and this additional funding we are back on track. We can play a genuinely important role in the international industry and deliver equal opportunities.”
Commission statement The Film Fund’s introduction of a cash rebate incentive in 2014 is complemented by the launch of the new Netherlands Film Commission to bang the drum abroad for the Dutch film industry. If one was to pastiche the famous Life of Brian sketch and ask instead what the Dutch can do for the international film fraternity, the list of attributes would seem as endless as what the Romans ever offered up in the past. Landscapes, cityscapes, a set-up devoid of union limits, sophisticated lines of communication (physical and digital), access within hours (or less) to at least eight other European countries, wildlife reserves, extensive forests, vast ports, picture postcard villages, the type of pure light that DOPs crave, technically accomplished, highly trained staff working within a very well organized film infrastructure, canals a-plenty, windmills and dykes (of course) and now a €20 million willingness to accommodate international filmmakers seeking access to production finance. And if all that isn’t enough, the Dutch speak English, the international language of film, as well as most Brits. It’s not that the Dutch industry has never looked to promote itself and all its assets adequately in the past. It is just that this task was never before performed by one central agency. The launch of the new
Netherlands Film Commission at Cannes 2014 heralds therefore an altogether more integrated and systematic approach to the future promotion of the country as a film production location and coproduction partner to the worldwide film community. Dutch industry veteran Jacques van Heijningen, former head of the Netherlands Film Festival and the Rotterdam Film Commission, was asked to take care of all the necessary preparations, and will manage the new commission until a permanent film commissioner is appointed in the coming months. The Film Commission is a new division of the Netherlands Film Fund. “International producers are looking across the world for where they are going to shoot or produce, or post-produce, their films,” Film Fund CEO Doreen Boonekamp explains. “They are also looking for the central service point in each territory that they can access in order to have the key information to make that decision. They want to know what are the specific possibilities in a given country for their specific film production? “Until now in the Netherlands we didn’t have this central point so producers had to go on word of mouth promotion or just see how things would turn out when they looked for potential shooting
locations and production partners. We realised that if you can organise this scouting process smoothly then it is much easier for everybody. Within the international industries these service points are always found within the national film commissions, so it is an obvious first place for the producers to turn to. As of now, that is the case in the Netherlands too.” For years EYE International’s Claudia Landsberger has operated as a matchmaker par excellence at the festivals and markets that she attends, promoting Dutch films and introducing international talent with Dutch producers and location scouts. She will work in close collaboration with the new film commissioner. “We look forward to continuing the good work in the future,” Landsberger comments. “It took us one and a half years to prepare for the film commission,” adds Boonekamp, “and now we are able to launch it this coming May in Cannes. At the end of last year the decision was made to have the Production Incentive as well, so in the end both things came together as we always wanted from the start. “It is like a dream come true for our industry,” Boonekamp concludes. Nick Cunningham
For a production guide and overview of all services visit www.filmcommission.nl, or contact the Netherlands Film Commission by email: email@example.com. 10
Getting Animated For years, anyone from the Netherlands wanting to ply their trade in animation has known that working abroad is often a necessity, not a choice, writes Geoffrey Macnab. “You have got to travel,” declares Piet Kroon, a storyboard artist and animation director whose credits include Osmosis Jones, Shrek 2, Rio and Despicable Me. There is no shortage of talent in the Netherlands. The problem, until now at least, has been a lack of opportunity. The Hollywood-based Wilbert Plijnaar (story board artist on films from Ice Age to Despicable Me) believes that Dutch animators simply didn’t have the art of teamwork. “Animation is very much a team effort and the Dutch animators all used to work solitary,” Plijnaar suggests. “The Dutch mentality was that you did it all yourself. You drew it, you did the music, you wrote it, you directed it, you coloured it - and you were probably the only audience member who would ever see it!” As a youngster, Kroon was passionate about film and comics. This led him naturally to animation. “But there was no real animation business in the Netherlands,” he recalls. A handful of small studios were doing commercial work. There were also plenty of independent
Dutch animators, scrimping by on grants as they made their handdrawn or stop-motion shorts. What was lacking was an equivalent to the big companies in London and LA that could give animators continuity of employment. One pivotal figure was Haarlem-based filmmaker Gerrit van Dijk, who died in late 2012. Even those who didn’t necessarily like his work acknowledge his role as a mentor. “He was a great guy and he was very influential in the way that he motivated people,” Plijnaar says of him.
‘Animation is a team effort’ Under the guidance of Van Dijk, Kroon made a number of shorts. On the back of these, he was hired by Amblimation, a joint venture between Steven Spielberg’s Amblin and Universal that was based in London. “It was a rude awakening of sorts,” expresses Kroon. Until that time, I had always been one of the people who could draw best. Then, in London, I was suddenly surrounded by much younger people than me who were drawing circles around me!” Eventually, Kroon found his footing. Thanks to his Amblimation work and the critical success of his short film Dada (1997), he was given the opportunity to head to the US on a three-year contract.
Wilbert Plijnaar’s original artwork for Despicable Me
The mid-1990s were a boon period for European animators. After the phenomenal success of The Lion King (1994) all the US studios wanted their own animation departments. A huge recruiting drive was underway across Europe. Kroon jokes that if “you knew which end of the pencil had the point,” you were halfway to being hired. Plijnaar was one of the talents headhunted by Hollywood during this period. Before he entered animation, he had enjoyed a highly successful career as a writer and illustrator. When Warner Bros hired him in 1995, he thought that he was just in the US for a short visit. “But they offered me a three-year contract,” he remembers. With its beautiful weather, he quickly settled into LA life, working on films such as Quest For Camelot and Osmosis Jones - both box office failures. “The joke at the time was that if you want to stop AIDS, have it distributed by Warners,” he recalls. When Warner Bros closed down their animation department, Plijnaar was ready to return to Europe. Before he left, he decided to spend a few months working with a small studio in Texas that specialised in CGI animation. He worked on Jimmy Neutron, a film that was Oscar-nominated, and he quickly found he was in demand again due to increased studio demand for animators with experience with CGI. He stuck
around to work on the first Ice Age movie and has remained in the US ever since. Dutch visual effects wizard Erik-Jan de Boer is likewise happy with his career in the American film system. He came to the US after working for several years at the Moving Picture Company in London. It was there he learned the craft of digital live action manipulation. By 1996, he was keen to get out of commercials and TV in order to work on features. “I decided to go to LA and see if I liked it. All these years later, I am still there.” De Boer flourished, first at Rhythm and Hue Studios and now at Method, and when his astonishing work animating (and partly playing) the tiger in Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi was rewarded with an Oscar, his friends and family back home were the first to celebrate. As the ex-pats note, in the US animation system, any individual will only ever be a tiny cog in a huge wheel and films tend to be judged on their commercial performance, not their artistic integrity. Kroon remembers his experiences on Osmosis Jones (2001). He was co-directing the animated parts of the film while the Farrelly brothers handled the live-action. The film was not raucous or rude enough for fans of Farrelly features like There’s Something About Mary and yet it was still considered too risqué for some parents with kids.
The Dutch animators in Hollywood all have close links with their home country. They feel that they still have a Dutch sensibility. “I am very Dutch,” insists De Boer. Plijnaar has what he calls a “Dutch” liking for ”off colour jokes” and for brute honesty. And it’s a sign of renewed confidence in the Dutch animation industry that Kroon is planning to come back to the Netherlands to shoot Heinz Einz with leading Dutch kids’ movie producers, Bos Bros. (The film is based on the established newspaper cartoons, and is supported by the Netherlands Film Fund.) Yes, the animators acknowledge, big Hollywood animated features are hugely elaborate and impressive fare. However, they can also be on the formulaic side. Plijnaar jokes that lately he only ever seems to work on sequels, prequels, remakes and spin offs (although he is connected to Erik van Schaaik’s upcoming Hieronymus Bosch The Movie, also supported by the Netherlands Film Fund). As he puts it: “If you are successful in Hollywood, you immediately get punished by doing exactly the same thing again.” “I find the more interesting animated feature projects that I see are actually coming out of Europe, and are made with a lot less money. It’s as if less money buys you more creative freedom,” Kroon agrees, citing films like The Illusionist, Persepolis and Ernest And Celestine.
“There is more belief in the director as an author.”
‘I was surrounded by younger people drawing circles around me’
The ex-pats also admit they miss the social interaction that is taken for granted in any big European city. “LA is a giant collection of suburbs with freeways connecting them. It is not much of a city really,” Plijnaar states. “It is not like Amsterdam or London where you go out on the street and meet people. I miss that aspect very much.” As De Boer points out, the new cash rebate system in the Netherlands is bound to give a boost to the country`s post production and VFX sector - and may lure technicians like him back to Amsterdam. “It is very much money driven. The talent is everywhere but it is very much about the bottom line.” And, yes, he would be keen to work back home if the opportunity arose. Plijnaar enthuses about the newfound confidence and artistry of Dutch animators - and about the fact that they are willing to collaborate. “I see for the first time in Dutch animation people starting to work together,” he says. Give it time, he believes, and young Dutch talents will be making animated movies with the craft and appeal to reach an international audience. The best young animators may be able to enjoy successful careers without having to cross the Atlantic - and the ex-pats might even be lured home.
Erik-Jan de Boer who won an Academy Award for his work on Life Of Pi
Feature animation report
Cats Tales they were two-dimensional,” continues Smid, who was also a close friend of Westendorp towards the end of her life.
‘We remained true to the original’ The film was born out of a TV series The Adventures of Pim and Pom, also masterminded by Smid and sold to some 15 broadcasters around the world including NHK in Japan. “I kept seeing the series on the big screen and thought Pim and Pom would also work as a film,” says Smid. She reunited the team that had worked on the series, led by Marieke van Middelkoop, who handled art direction, and Fiona van Heemstra, who wrote the script. “The storyline is completely new and not based on any of the storylines of the original. We all had input into the script – I think we had 17 versions in the end,” says Smid with a laugh. “We remained true, however, to the characters in the original stories. Pim is enthusiastic and gutsy and Pom is more sophisticated and cautious,” says Smid. In the film, Pim and Pom are kidnapped by the nieces of their beloved owner The Lady, manage to escape, but then have to fend for themselves on the streets as they struggle to get back home. Luckily they are befriended by a group of alley cats.
As part of the production process for both the series and film, Smid created a database of all of Westendorp’s illustrations. “We used the database to build up a picture of Pim and Pom’s world. I can key in ‘couch’ for example and all the couches in Fiep’s drawings come up… it’s in my head now but it helped us step into Fiep’s shoes when making the film and work closely with her drawings,” explains Smid. Rather than farming out production to an outside animation house, the film was produced in-house, using Adobe Flash and a team of 15 animators overseen by Van Middelkoop and Smid. “We looked at collaborating with other companies but we had a such a strong vision of what we were looking for and intimate knowledge of Fiep’s work, it made most sense to make it ourselves.” The budget, which came in at just under €1m, was covered by the Netherlands Film Fund, the Dutch arm of Nickelodeon, local distributor A-Film and the Fiep Amsterdam Company. The film opened to rave reviews in the Netherlands in April, and has grossed over €300,000 to date. Smid hopes it will now travel abroad.
Photo: © Fiep Amsterdam bv; Fiep Westendorp Illustrations
Pim and Pom The Big Adventure pays homage to one of Holland’s most famous illustrators. Melanie Goodfellow reports. The late Fiep Westendorp’s illustrations have given pleasure to generations of Dutch people, young and old. On the tenth anniversary of her death in 2004, her work has hit the big screen in the endearing family feature animation Pim and Pom The Great Adventure, about two plucky kittens trying to get back home after they are abducted. It is inspired by a series of stories by Mies Bouhuys and stylised blackand-white illustrations by Westendorp, which appeared in the Dutch newspaper Het Parool in the 1960s. Art historian Gioia Smid, who is the custodian of the late illustrator’s work and founder of the Fiep Amsterdam Company, which controls the rights to her illustrations, was the driving force behind the film. “Fiep is perhaps best known for the silhouette figures she created for Annie M.G. Schmidt’s Jip and Janneke,” says Smid, referring to Westendorp’s iconic illustrations for Schmidt’s tale about a girl and a boy who live next door to one another. “The characters are shown in silhouette form, however, which is difficult to animate. We decided instead to work with another set of characters created by her, the figures of Pim and Pom, because
Attraction Distribution is handling the film at the Cannes Marché.
Pim and Pom The Big Adventure Director: Gioia Smid Script: Fiona van Heemstra Production: Pim & Pom BV, Flinck Film Sales: Attraction Distribution 16
Hijacking Annecy The Netherlands wants to become a major force in European animation production. On the eve of Dutch animated documentary Last Hijack competing in Annecy, Melanie Goodfellow reports. In a sign of the growing strength of the Netherlands animation scene, Last Hijack will screen in the feature-length competition at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival this year. The hybrid work about Somali piracy was produced by cutting edge digital production house Submarine and originally premiered at the Berlin Film Festival. Other Dutch works screening in Annecy include George Dechev’s The Visitor, about a man who can walk through walls, which is screening out of competition. Gracht, about father and son furniture removers, is a contender in the Graduation Films Competition. The film was made by Joost de Jong, Nick Groeneveld, Jeroen Hoolmans and Michaël Koning. After decades of focusing mainly on shorts, the Dutch animation scene has upped its game in recent years, in part due to a proactive approach by the Netherlands Film Fund. “Our goal is for the Netherlands to become a very serious player in European animated features… as a producer and co-producer,” says
Peter Lindhout, who started working with the Fund in the role of Film Consultant for Animated Film at the beginning of 2013.
‘It’s time to get more international’ His appointment was part of a strategy dating back to 2009 to boost feature-length animation production out of the Netherlands, which has resulted in the development of a dozen featurelength animations. Completed films include Miffy the Movie, which came out last year, and Pim & Pom, The Big Adventure, which has just hit Dutch screens, while Tripple Trouble is in postproduction. Projects expected to go into production in the coming months include comic strip adaptation Heinz Einz, Hieronymus Bosch The Movie and Pat & Mat The Film. Interestingly, Heinz Einz and Pat & Mat The Film are being developed by production houses that have previously specialised in live action production, BosBros and Lemming Film.
Lindhout wants to further professionalise the animation scene, get broadcasters more involved, develop better scriptwriting for animation and also get local animation players to work more at an international level. “It’s time for us to start becoming more international in our approach, especially with the planned introduction of the cash rebate, we need to start looking at ourselves as being part of the European animation production scene,” he says. “Within that context, we need to look at what we the Dutch can offer,” he continues. “One of our strengths, I think, is that we always do something original and different.”
Prior to Lindhout’s arrival, the Fund had already ring-fenced funding for at least one feature-length animation per year and introduced a €50,000 grant for the production of animatics, a key stage of development.
Gracht by Joost de Jong, Nick Groeneveld, Jeroen Hoolmans and Michaël Koning
EYE 2 EYE Two years on from the opening of the iconic EYE museum building across the water from Amsterdam’s Central Station, EYE director Sandra den Hamer reflects to Nick Cunningham on its unqualified success as a new home for film in the Netherlands and a modern Mecca for cineastes. The idea of relocating the Netherlands’ national film museum to bigger premises was first mooted towards the end of the last century. The museum’s former home in the Vondelpark was beautiful, set within trees and parkland and decorative waterways, but it was not up to the task of presenting the Netherlands’ rich film heritage to a local and international public. The storage conditions were crude and far from optimal, and the building could only offer film fare within two small cinemas. What’s more, the exhibition space was so limited as to just allow the hanging of a few posters, and little else. A report published at the time underlined the urgency of a move to better premises within a decade. The idea to make this the foundation stone of a new national film institute came a little later. EYE director Sandra den Hamer picks up the story. “Back then the Council for Culture in the Netherlands and also the Ministry of Culture wanted to have a
clear and transparent arts policy, so they wanted every arts discipline to have a centre or an institute to perform national tasks on the levels of promotion, education, archiving and so on. For instance we had a national centre for theatre and a national fund for performing arts, but within the discipline of film there were many separate and independent institutions. So from a governmental point of view they saw a lot of very well functioning institutions but there was no link and too little synergy. The idea of an institute was devised for efficiency and to strengthen ourselves as an industry.”
‘Great exposure for EYE in the international media’ So the EYE Film Institute Netherlands was founded on 1 January 2010 and fused four core national film organisations: the film museum, the international promotion body Holland Film, the Netherlands Institute for Film Education and De Filmbank. Two years later, in April 2012, the move to the new landmark building on the River IJ was completed. Designed by the Austrian architectural firm Delugan Meissi, the new museum offered four ultra modern auditoria, 1200 square metres of exhibition space, a
basement to house the permanent (free) exhibition allowing visitors to browse through the history of cinema, and internal and external terraces where filmgoers could mingle with diners, tourists and architecture admirers alike. The appeal of the venture was immediate, and the financial returns were (almost) off the scale. Den Hamer had figured on first year paid attendances of 200,000, but instead 350,000 cinephiles went to their wallets either for exhibition or cinema. In total 750,000 visitors underwent the EYE experience in the first year, the additional 400,000 happy to interact with the digital collection, attend festivals and industry events, browse, admire or dine. Highlights of the first year included the majestic Kubrick exhibition, and the Found Footage event showed how artists and filmmakers make use of the nearly inexhaustible reservoir of images that can be found in film archives, on Internet, TV and DVD. “The attendance was much more than we ever expected. Of course the building is a landmark for the city already. It is in all the tourist guides - 17% of our audiences are international tourists - and of course with events such as the crowning of the new king (2013), when they started the royal boat tour here, this was a great exposure for EYE in the international media,” comments den Hamer.
Sandra den Hamer addressing guests at the Film Ball 2014, hosted by EYE
“Everybody has taken it to their hearts,” she continues. “Before we opened there was much scepticism that we would ever succeed, that Amsterdam North is a no go area. People were calling it the Siberia of Amsterdam, so we are also helping the redevelopment of this area of this city. EYE is a real hit here in Amsterdam.”
‘We always focus on ways to innovate programming’ Likewise, the Dutch professionals seem to have taken this physical manifestation of Dutch film culture to their hearts. “I see a lot of Dutch professionals at EYE - they say it is the House of Film,” Den Hamer points out. “Many of these organisations - the directors guild, the producers association - they have their annual meetings at EYE. And we do a lot of events and retrospectives of Dutch filmmakers and special evenings, and we involve the industry in a lot in our programming. “A little while ago there was a Dutch producer who said that whenever he was entertaining his international co-producers he would always have his meetings at EYE because he said that people from abroad can see how seriously we take film in the Netherlands. That really touched
me because he felt a sense of genuine pride.” Den Hamer reiterates that successful, critically acclaimed exhibitions like the Kubrick or the Fellini could never have been staged before due to lack of space. The decision both to relocate premises and to redefine the museum’s offer to the film public is further underlined by the innovations in presentation. “In the building we have interactive walks, or within the digital archive people can journey through the history of Dutch film. Also online we are adding films all the time on YouTube and we are developing our site not only with the films themselves, but with a lot of extra background information.
but also the film-related collection of personal filmmakers’ archives, such as posters and stills and memorabilia. It will be a place for students and scholars doing academic and historic research but also for filmmakers that use found footage or archival material in their films, or archival material. There will be a library, screening rooms and a place where people can come and study and meet. So not just a collection centre but a semiprofessional meeting place, and I hope to open that in 2016,” Den Hamer concludes.
“I think there is still a lot of work to be done. We always focus on ways to innovate programming. I think we still have to work on reaching younger audiences, and the major challenge for us as an institute and museum is the work on the collection and digitisation,”she adds. Right now 20% of the Dutch archive is digitised, so that work is continuing. The next major step is the construction of a new collection centre, which will begin construction in autumn 2014 on land adjacent to the current site. “That is the where we will bring our collection of more than 40,000 films
The future EYE collection centre
A Woman of Substance Actress Monic Hendrickx hits the big screen this year in Maarten Treurniet’s costume drama Kenau, about the historical Dutch heroine Kenau Simonsdochter Hasselaer. She talks to Melanie Goodfellow. A household name in the Netherlands, Hendrickx is best known internationally for her performances as a battered immigrant woman in Dutch box office hit The Polish Bride and its Australian remake Unfinished Sky. In Kenau, she plays a Dutch heroine who, according to legend, triumphantly led a 300-strong army of women against Spanish forces laying siege to the city of Haarlem in the 1570s. “In Dutch, if you call a woman a ‘Kenau’, you mean she is acting like a bitch. It’s a hard word,” says Hendrickx. This did not put her off auditioning for the part. “I was immediately fascinated by the story,” she says. “I read a few things on the internet and talked to the writers about her. The life of Kenau is not welldocumented. That left us room to fantasise and use our imagination.” In this big screen version of Kenau’s life, her decision to stand-up to the Spanish is sparked by the execution of her daughter by the invaders. “What attracted me to the role was the fact that she doesn’t want to
fight against Spain, but circumstances force her to make that choice and it just happens,” says Hendrickx. “She is turned into a heroine by other people and that’s where she finds the power to overcome her grief and decides to fight. That gives her a new goal in live. I think unfortunately revenge is often a reason why wars are endless.”
‘She has an incredible and sensitivity’ Director Treurniet’s previous works include The Heineken Kidnapping. Kenau is produced by San Fu Malta’s Fu Works with support from the Netherlands Film Fund. “We couldn’t imagine another actress for the role of Kenau other than Monic Hendrickx,” says Maltha, who also produced Unfinished Sky. “She has an incredible power and sensitivity at the same time. We were so willing to have her that we adapted our shooting schedule to the availability of Monic. And that was the best choice we made, Monic is Kenau.” As well as appearing on the big screen Hendrickx has also carved herself out a career on television, most recently in the lead role of Carmen van Walraven-de Rue in the hit series Penoza about a woman who takes over her husband’s crime empire when he is assassinated.
“After the death of her husband she tries to exit the criminal world but is drawn back in,” says Hendrickx. “The choices that Carmen has to make are often on the edge of good and evil. That’s always interesting to play as an actor. It’s a challenge to make the bad girl good and to add a little evil to the good girl.” Penoza writers are currently working on a fourth season which is due to be shot in 2015. Prior to that, Hendrickx is due to work on Flemish director Lenny van Wesemael’s debut feature The Derby, a family tragedy drama set against the backdrop of a 1980s visit by the Pope to Belgium. “I am playing the role of Renée, a mother of four, who is trying to cope with the wild ideas of her husband,” reveals Hendrickx. ‘It’s a beautifully written story, very touching and strong and I am looking forward to the shoot.” She is also set to star in the theatrical production Homebody, about a woman going through a mid-life crisis who dreams of travelling to Afghanistan. It is an adaptation of American writer’s Tony Kushner play Homebody/ Kabul, by Malcolm Rock, blending music, dance and a monologue by Hendrickx. Kenau is being sold in Cannes Marché by Mountain Road Entertainment Group.
Kenau Director: Maarten Treurniet Script: Karen Holst van Pellekaan, Marnie Blok
Production: Fu Works Sales: Mountain Road Entertainment Group 24
The New Rijksmuseum to the museum by the brilliant Spanish architects Antonio Cruz and Antonio Ortiz had to be overhauled.
It is now a full decade since Oeke Hoogendijk first began to contemplate her epic documentary about the multimillion euro renovation of Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, reports Geoffrey Macnab. Back in 2004, though, she little conceived how long the project would take. “It is our big national museum. They (the museum authorities) thought maybe it is important to take care that everything is recorded, and that there should be a documentary,” the director recalls. Hoogendijk’s first step was to write a script. She then began filming in early 2005, with broadcaster NTR supporting the venture. The museum was due to re-open by 2008 but, almost right from the outset, there were problems. Costs soared. The Dutch Cyclist’s Union protested against the original plans. They were accustomed to riding underneath the building on a path that was owned by the city, not the museum. Their protests meant that the plans drawn up for the entrance
As a filmmaker, Hoogendijk tends to keep her opinions to herself. Nonetheless, she acknowledges she was startled that the Dutch cyclists were able to undermine the “beautiful, glamorous” idea that had been conceived for the entrance. “But for me, it’s fascinating,” the director says of the dispute “Everything went differently to how everyone expected!” During the long reconstruction period, Hoogendijk and her crew were among the few people permitted to step inside the museum. She had an unlikely role as both messenger and informer. “I was part of it, almost,” she says. “And the only person talking to everyone and outside the museum. The film is a little bit about everyone sitting on their own island, not communicating.” There was one bizarre moment (“funny but painful”) when the then director of the museum, Ronald de Leeuw, asked the director, “do you know when the museum will open again?” Hoogendijk couldn’t help but notice the irony in the boss asking the documentary maker such a fundamental question about his own building. “I was happy I was able to keep my mouth shut!”
The New Rijksmuseum Director: Oeke Hoogendijk Script: Oeke Hoogendijk Production: Column Film (NL) Sales: Autlook Films
In 2008, at IDFA, Hoogendijk screened some of the ongoing film. This prompted a groundswell of support for the architects and for the project as a whole. The following five years turned out to be far smoother than the initial part of the reconstruction. The two-part, four-hour version of the film was shown to great acclaim at the Film Forum in New York last year. Now, the director is winnowing down the material to create a 100-minute feature length version. There were 400 hours of material shot in all and, no, it wasn’t easy cutting the film into its various versions. “They always say ‘kill your darlings’ but this was like a massacre!’ she jokes. In late April 2014, Hoogendijk was still working on the film, supervising the editing of the shortened version, but her Rijksmuseum marathon was about to end. Asked whether she was relieved or saddened that her work was finally complete, she gives a philosophical answer. “At certain moments, I felt it would go on forever. When it opened, I was kind of stunned…it was strange to know that this was going to be the end of 10 years (of work.) It was like you have a job and you’re going to stop and quit - or you’ve been fired!” The film will be shown in the Cannes market by the project’s sales agent, Austrian outfit Autlook.
No Regrets to the Ribberink case. In fact, the film had had a lengthy gestation. It was the first of her books that Slee had wanted to see filmed.
Regret (Spijt!), which will be represented for sales by Mountain Road Entertainment, has been a phenomenon both at the Dutch box-office (making over €3 million) and at international festivals, winning over 30 awards, most recently the EFA Young Audience Award 2014. Geoffrey Macnab reports. What makes the success of Regret all the more remarkable is that its subject matter is, seemingly, very bleak indeed. This is a film about a teenage boy bullied at school - and about the remorse his friends feel at not having stood up for him. Like the cancer-themed Cool Kids Don’t Cry, Regret is based on a novel by Carry Slee. Producer and director Dave Schram acknowledges that the film turned out to be sadly topical. “During the shooting, there was a boy named Tim Ribberink who killed himself,” Schram recalls of the schoolboy whose death was covered widely in the Dutch media at around the time the movie went into production. Inevitably, the filmmakers were asked if they were making their film in direct response
Dutch Culture Minister Jet Bussemaker was at the premiere. She told Schram that she felt the film was “important for everyone” and encouraged screenings for school kids. Newspapers also encouraged the film to be shown in schools. “This was an important issue. It was a famous book. I don’t think it was because of my quality in making a movie,” the director says of the film’s success, downplaying his own open contribution.
‘I loved to produce so I forgot to direct!’ Schram, co-founder of production company Shooting Star, is one of the most prolific figures in the Dutch film industry. Quite apart from his own films as a director, he produces films for directors from Dick Maas to Jeroen Krabbé. He works very closely with his wife, renowned writer and director Maria Peters. There is further filmmaking talent in the family in the form of his daughter, Tessa Schram, whose feature directorial debut Pijnstillers he is producing, and his son Quinten who starred as a child in Peter Bell (2002) and is now carving out a career as a movie composer.
Look through Schram’s filmography and you’ll see that he spent the first half of his career as a producer on films like the Oscar-nominated Daens and Krabbé’s Left Luggage. Only relatively late on did he turn to directing. That, he suggests, was a simple quirk of fate. He studied directing at the Dutch Film Academy and had always planned to call the shots himself. “I loved to produce so I forgot to direct!” is how he describes the beginning of his career. As a producer, Schram made low budget pictures and films that cost several million euros. He had his share of flops but also some very big hits (notably Little Crumb which attracted 1.3 million viewers.) Then, in middle-age, he began directing again in earnest. “I love to direct,” Schram enthuses. “If you’re the producer, you’re the person who is taking care of everything - the money, the story, the people. If you’re a director, it’s more like you are the painter taking care of the colours. I love to do that!” He adds that he relished not having to talk about money all the time and being able to concentrate on the creative aspects of the process. Shooting Star has several projects in the pipeline - and Schram is about to unleash havoc on the streets of Amsterdam. One of his next features as a producer is Prey, a new genre film from Dick Maas about “a lion in Amsterdam who kills everybody!”
Regret Direction: Dave Schram Script: Maria Peters, Dick van den Heuvel Production: Shooting Star Filmcompany Sales: Mountain Road Entertainment Group
Focus on Cronenberg After exhibitions on Fellini and Kubrick, EYE is turning its attention to David Cronenberg. Melanie Goodfellow reports. The futuristic architecture of Amsterdam’s EYE would not look out of place in a David Cronenberg film, so it is fitting that the building will host a major exhibition this summer feting the Canadian director’s work.
‘It is quite rare that so many objects still exist’ Travelling from Toronto, where it was a major component of a multi-platform celebration of Cronenberg by the Toronto Film Festival this year, the show will have its European premiere in Amsterdam in June. It will feature costumes, props, photographs and set designs from films such as Videodrome, eXistenZ, Crash and, perhaps, even Maps to the Stars, which premieres in competition at the Cannes Film Festival this year. “We’re using the ingredients of the original show but doing it in a completely different way,” says Jaap Guldemond, director of exhibitions at the EYE. “The exhibition in Toronto was installed over 300 square metres and we have 1,200 square metres. A large part of the exhibition is devoted to props from the films. They’re very precisely
made, very beautiful. We’re going to present them a bit like jewels. My brief to the designers is that we’re sort of organising a jewellery show. Every tiny object will be handled like a jewel with very precise lighting.” The objects on display will include items such as the helmet from Videodrome, the game consoles from eXistenZ, the surgical tools from Dead Ringers, the leg braces from Crash and the typewriters from Naked Lunch. “It’s quite rare that so many of the objects still exist,” says Guldemond. “Objects have survived from just about every film he made. That’s unusual. I’m not sure how. Perhaps they realised when they were making the films how special the props were.” Alongside the cabinets there will be big screens showing excerpts from the films, revealing how the props were used. Guldemond is hoping that both Cronenberg and his long-time production designer Carol Spier will put in an appearance at the event which is due to run until September. “Cronenberg was quite involved in the original show and I understand is happy to accompany it and we might also welcome a couple of actors from his films,” he adds. The exhibition, which will be accompanied by a parallel film programme featuring every film Cronenberg has ever made, marks Guldemond’s ninth event at EYE
David Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers
since his arrival at the institute at the time of its launch in 2012. Recent exhibitions include The Quay Brothers Universum, featuring artwork alongside their sources of inspiration such as scientific collections and curiosity cabinets. Prior to that he ran very successful exhibitions devoted to late Italian director Federico Fellini and Stanley Kubrick. “Anita Ekberg came for the opening,’ says Guldemond, referring to the star of Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, famed for her scene in Rome’s Trevi Fountain. “She was blown away by the beauty of the building. She was really nice and a classic old-style diva.” The shows have been clocking over 100,000 visitors which for a city the size of Amsterdam, with a population of just 700,000, is more than respectable, says Guldemond. “The original target was 80,000.” “Amsterdam is the capital but people forget the population is quite small,” he says. “We’re constantly looking at ways to expand and renew the audience. We think the Cronenberg might attract some younger visitors. People in their 20s and 30s might not necessarily know who he is but they have heard of titles like Videodrome.” The show will run until September 14 and will be followed by an exhibition devoted to avant-garde artist and filmmaker Andrew McCall.
Restoring EYE Sight end, the reels came into the possession of a certain Mrs Van Egmond. She showed them to a local TV station. Through the TV station, the nitrate reels eventually reached EYE.
One of the films screening in the Hitchcock season is Champagne (1928), a frothy romantic comedy featuring Betty Balfour, British cinema’s biggest star of the period. As EYE’s silent film curator Elif Rongen points out, Balfour (nicknamed “the Queen Of Happiness”) is also at the centre of one of the biggest stories in silent cinema in recent years.
In the international press, it was suggested that the discovered footage had been rotting. This was not the case at all. Nor had Mrs Van Egmond ever intended to throw the old films away, as was (mis)reported. Even so, this was an unexpected discovery, and of immense importance to silent film lovers.
Earlier this year, a print of the long missing silent classic Love, Life and Laughter (1923), starring Balfour and directed by George Pearson, was discovered in the Netherlands. The film, long believed lost, was tracked down by EYE. Love, Life and Laughter turned up in the small town of Hattem. In the late 1920s, this town had its own cinema. The family who owned the cinema held on to the material they had acquired over the years. The reels of old film (which included 8mm movies and films from as early as 1915) were passed on over time to relatives and neighbours. In the
‘EYE is at the centre of global film restoration’
EYE is now working to restore Love, Life and Laughter. “With this nitrate film, with the silver emulsion, if the cans are closed too tightly and they don’t get any air, some chemical reactions may occur,” Rongen notes of the unstable elements that can often make old film dangerous. “When you look at the film material itself, it is all organic chemicals. There’s gelatin, which is animalbased, and the silver emulsion and the different chemicals that go into bathing the film and developing it.” Thankfully, in the case of Love, Life and Laughter, the material appears to be in reasonable condition. “We do hope to present the film at some stage in 2015,” Rongen declares.
The discovery of the Balfour-starrer is just one of a series of notable “finds” of silent movies in the Netherlands in recent years. In 2003, “lost” film Beyond The Rocks (1922), starring Rudolph Valentino, was discovered in the country. “Maybe the reason we find so many unique films in the Netherlands is that it is an ‘end of the line country’ where distributors don’t care any more about the film,” suggests Rongen. “Holland is one of the last places where the film is being screened. After that, they don’t see a commercial life to the film so they may not be too strict in retrieving it.” EYE is busy collaborating with the National Film Preservation Foundation in San Francisco on preserving and making accessible dozens of early films. Meanwhile, the museum is also involved in a new feature doc about French and US filmmaking pioneer Alice Guy-Blaché. The doc is expected to premiere in Cannes in 2015. As all these activities attest, EYE is at the centre of global film restoration…not that it always gets the credit for its work. Rongen is nevertheless sanguine about stories in the international media which ignore EYE’s contribution. As she points out, among archivists and curators everyone knows the crucial part EYE has played in unearthing so many hidden gems of silent cinema. Geoffrey Macnab
Photo: BFI National Archive
This summer, EYE Film Institute Netherlands will be paying tribute to British master Alfred Hitchcock. There will be screenings of all his films (including the “Hitchcock 9”, the 1920s silent movies, some of which EYE helped the British Film Institute to restore) as well as lectures and debates on “the Hitchcock touch.”
The recently re-discovered Love, Life and Laughter
Wild at Heart It isn’t often that the biggest local release of the year in any given territory is a wildlife film. What makes director Mark Verkerk and photographer Ruben Smit’s stunning Dutch feature The New Wilderness additionally remarkable is that it was all shot less than fifteen minutes drive from Amsterdam. Producer Ton Okkerse talks to Nick Cunningham. The Oostvaardersplassen is a 22 square-mile piece of land reclaimed from the sea in 1968 and situated between the new (overflow) towns of Lelystad and Almere. But what was originally designed as an industrial landscape has been allowed to transform over the past 40 years into a wildlife haven and home to a cornucopia of beasts, birds, fish and insects. Through Ruben Smits’ lens, this area of wilderness within one of the most densely populated areas of Europe resembles less the lowlands of Holland, more the plains of Africa. “In wildlife programmes we never see our own country,” points out producer Ton Okkerse. “And so it was our idea to make a film about something that is found under the smoke of Amsterdam just 30 kilometres away. If you go there (to the Oostvaardersplassen) you think you are in the Serengeti.” The film, shot over three years and made using private money, crowd
sourcing and TV funding via broadcaster VARA, details the impact of the four seasons on the terrain and its inhabitants. We see hundreds of stampeding Konik horses, thousands of red deer with their attendant rutting stags, ethereal white egrets resembling something from legend, starlings feasting on elderberries festooned with blossom, enormous carp floundering in shallow waters, beavers, ground-nesting bees and a pony with a frozen leg trying to survive the harsh winter. And much more besides. The film’s aim (successfully accomplished) is to provide a narrative that depicts a nature red in tooth and claw that is transformative, both giving and taking of life.
‘You think you are in the Serengeti’ “In a theatre you can still tell a long story,” explains Okkerse of his decision to make his film for theatrical exhibition, vindicated by cinema audiences in Holland and Flanders close to 750,000. “In cinema, you can take people a long way. Nobody calls you up. There is no coffee break, and you can experience the film in its full glory. And this film you have to see big. It’s in 4k, and it’s in cinemascope. The soundtrack is really amazing. We wanted to make a film that could grab an audience of ages 4 to 88. If
you produce a television programme you have to concentrate on key demographics. And most films are specifically targeted to a key demographic. This one is much broader in it reach.” How does Okkerse feel an ostensibly Dutch doc will fare beyond Netherlands borders? “The unique part of this story is that you could also see it located between Manhattan and La Guardia,” he replies. “What we always see in wildlife films is the Big 5, the cats and the elephants and so on, but the fact that this film shows a complete ecosystem with an immense density of wildlife in the heart of urban environment makes it very special. In Holland it was positioned very strongly as a real Dutch film, so it may have to be slightly reformatted - but what film isn’t in this genre? “So if you stress the restorative power of nature and the fact that this is happening so close to urban areas, then it will do very well. It is a strong family film and the story of how all of nature, and its organisms, are interconnected gives it a very strong chance.” The film will screen in the Cannes market, with sales handled by Germany’s Atlas International.
The New Wilderness Director: Mark Verkerk, Ruben Smit Script: Mark Verkerk, Leo van der Goot, Ruben Smit, Hans
Dorrestijn Production: EMS Films (NL) Sales: Atlas International Film 34
Dutch Courage Needed
As Chris W. Mitchell, director of new Dutch horror film The Pool notes, “science-fiction and horror filmmakers in Holland are rather frustrated creatures.” Geoffrey Macnab finds out more. Traditionally, Dutch public funders and distributors have shied away from genre fare. “When I first started out on my film career 20 years ago, it was a lot worse than it is now,” Mitchell recalls. “There was an attitude that if a film doesn’t make society better, then it has no real place being made with Government money.” Now, Mitchell believes, there is less ‘snobbishness’ toward genre filmmaking and an acceptance that a film can be ‘art’ and ‘genre’ at the same time. The Pool, which is supported by the Netherlands Film Fund through the low budget scheme of New Screen NL, had some strong elements in its favour. Mitchell recruited Gijs Scholten van Aschat (one of the Netherlands’ leading actors) to appear in the film. “When I had him on board, things began to go a lot more smoothly in all aspects because he is really taken seriously
The Pool was made through House Of Netherhorror, founded by Jan Doense and Herman Slagter. The film follows two sacked bankers and their families as they head into the wilderness for a camping holiday. They end up becoming stranded by a pool in the forest. As their food begins to rot, it seems obvious that something unnatural is happening, and the campers become increasingly disturbed. Mitchell managed to find a remote woodland corner of the Netherlands where the cast, director and cinematographer stayed in little houses. The rest of the crew camped out in tents. “For the most part, we were sitting around a camp fire every night, living the outdoor life,” Mitchell says. The weather varied from intense heat (30 degrees sometimes) to massive downpours. The worst problem was the tics - the blood sucking mites that relish human flesh – that the director had to get used to pulling out of his skin. The producers were startled by the amount of the budget that was spent on insect repellent. “The average per person was 15 tics,” Mitchell recalls. “Out of that, four
people got Lyme’s Disease.” Mitchell is a Brit who now seems a thoroughly naturalised member of the Dutch film community. Living in a north London squat in the 1980s, he fell in love with a Dutch girl and eventually followed her to Amsterdam. His first jobs in the film business were as a cleaner and a subtitlist. “I had a cinema pass ostensibly so I could check my subtitles but that meant I could go as often as I liked to the cinema.” Gradually, Mitchell climbed the ladder, working as a video assistant, clapper loader and focus puller. Then he started making short films. After studying at the Binger in Amsterdam, he began to write for cinema (his credits include Süskind, which he co-scripted with director Rudolf van den Berg, and Frankenstein’s Army). The Pool opened in Dutch cinemas early May. “People who know anything about genre are waiting for it with bated breath,” Mitchell stated a few days before its release. The aim, though, was always to reach a crossover audience as well as horror fans. Now, Mitchell is back with Van den Berg working on a screenplay about Indonesian Japanese war camps. He also has various genre projects on the boil… and hopes to be back directing again soon. “But first I have to have a few months of pure writing!”
‘Film can be art and genre at the same time’ Photo: Rob Becker
Chris W. Mitchell
by the Dutch film world.” The director was also backed by veteran producer San Fu Maltha (Black Book, Winter In Wartime). Mitchell refers to Maltha as “the father figure,” advising the filmmakers and putting his expertise behind the movie.
The Pool Director: Chris W. Mitchell Script: Chris W. Mitchell, Gijs Scholten van Aschat Production: House of Netherhorror (NL), Fu Works (NL), Nieuw Nederlands Film Platform (NL) 36
Making Contact of reality/virtuality, and the way in which people make contact in the modern world via virtual platforms.
In late April Dutch auteur David Verbeek commenced principal photography on his latest opus Full Contact, pitched at Cannes Atelier in 2011. He speaks to Nick Cunningham. Full Contact is an unconventional, perhaps for some an inflammatory, film given the political backdrop against which it plays. It tells the story of Ivan, a drone ‘pilot’ flying the skies above Pakistan. Ivan, of course, is nowhere near the terrain he scouts, nor the often-time innocent people he kills. He is based instead in the Nevada Desert near Las Vegas. Modern warfare keeps him safe and disconnected from his prey. But after yet another accident, the bombing of a school, he undergoes profound psychological change whereby he imagines physical engagement with his victims, and a shift from virtual violence towards real violence becomes, for Ivan, inevitable. “This project is a logical continuation of R U There,” claims director Verbeek, referring to his 2010 Cannes Un Certain Regard selection that also deals with the dichotomy
Actors Lizzie Brocheré and Grégoire Colin
“But where R U There was about an artificial form of violence set in a gaming world, where real feelings or fake feelings were very unclear as they were experienced through the avatars,” Verbeek continues, “with Full Contact I take it one step forward where the violence, the taking of lives - the ultimate serious human interaction - even that is on a screen. So this film is about guilt, or delayed guilt, or guilt which is not immediately perceived as such, but which is manifested in Ivan’s subconscious later on.”
‘He meets those men over and over within his parallel lives’ It becomes, Verbeek continues, a “road movie of the subconscious” as the film takes a tangential leap into the realms of Ivan’s inner psychological processes. “The rest of the film is really about the relationship he imagines having with those Arab lives that he has taken as he meets those men over and over again within the parallel lives that he is living,” Verbeek says. While on the surface the film may be interpreted as a conflict between the West and Islam, the director sees it differently. “This film is really
Full Contact Director: David Verbeek Script: David Verbeek Production: Lemming Film
about a modern hunter who has all the most modern equipment and ways of killing possible. He is like a god. He is completely invincible. He cannot be touched. And in a way he is climbing down that ladder of technology, and he is smelling and feeling and touching pain all over again, and through that getting in touch with his humanity again.” The film has been in development for four years and was pitched at Cannes Atelier in 2011, an experience which Verbeek found very inspiring but after which it was still difficult to close financing. Verbeek stresses however that he met some very important contacts, not least French sales agent BAC who is now representing the film. Post-Atelier, the prolific Amsterdambased Lemming Film picked up the project from the original producer and decided on a production strategy to shoot it entirely in Croatia and thereby boost the Netherlands Film Fund-supported €1 million budget to €1.1 million, courtesy of the Croatian tax rebate policy. “The decision to shoot the whole film in Croatia made this film very possible,” Verbeek stresses. After the five-week shoot, Verbeek intends to devote 5 months to the editing process and hopes to have the film ready for Cannes 2015. “But right now, after a week of shooting, I am delighted with how things have gone so far,” Verbeek concludes.
Dutch Industry News
Debutante Carmen Amsterdam-based documentary producer Carmen Cobos, known for her collaborations with filmmakers Heddy Honigmann and John Appel, premiered her directorial debut Imperfect Harmony in April 2014. The feature doc deals with the return of former enfant terrible Louis Andriessen, the acclaimed composer, to the sumptuous Amsterdam Concertgebouw auditorium whose concerts he audibly disrupted four decades before for their lack of modernist content. To commemorate the concert hall’s 125th anniversary in 2013, Andriessen was invited to write an orchestral piece that would be performed by the Concertgebouw Orchestra led by the world-renowned conductor Mariss Janssons. Cobos’ film covers the period through rehearsals to performance, detailing the increasing personal and professional conflicts between the towering protagonists. “I wanted to direct a film and I thought it was now or never,” she says. “When we found out about Louis and this commission, we thought it would be a beautiful subject for a film.” After two screenings in May, one to celebrate Andriessen’s 75th birthday, the other arranged by IDFA at the Amsterdam Tuschinski, the film will broadcast June 5 on Dutch broadcaster AVRO.
Brand New-U Dutch producer Reinier Selen of Rinkel Film BV spoke to See NL about his decision to take a co-pro credit on UK producer Hot Property’s transmedia Brand New-U, directed by Simon Pummell. The film tells the story of 33-year old Slater, who is obsessively in love with Nadia. When she suddenly disappears he is left behind disillusioned, but as he knows so little about her he finds it very difficult to report her missing. The only way he feels that he can find Nadia is by getting help from Brand New-U, a mysterious organisation that helps people leave their old life behind by creating a new identity for them. “Working with, amongst others, producer Janine Marmot, Simon Pummell, Dutch DOP Reinier van Brummelen and VFX supervisor
Kazakh film The Owners, directed by Adilkhan Yerzhanov and selected for Special Screening status in Cannes, was co-written by Dutch film scribe Roeloff Jan Minneboo. The film tells of two brothers and their sickly younger sister who are left a house in a remote village after being forced to leave their city home. Unfortunately, their new house is coveted - and illegally occupied - by the District Officer’s alcoholic brother, and the lives of the siblings are consequently made unbearable. “I started by rearranging scenes and taking out a few characters,” Minneboo
explains. “We had some disagreements about what we thought would work but we found a middle way eventually. After we had established the structure I started adding scenes and expanded the screenplay to its current 90 pages/ minutes. “When I saw the first cut last summer I was completely blown away by the colour and the Felliniesque exuberance of the film, especially because Adilkan’s previous films had been in black and white. I would describe The Owners as Fellini meets Tarkovsky on the steppes of Kazakhstan: there are banquets, there
Barend Onneweer was a great pleasure,” comments Selen. “All these creative team members share a strong vision on creating the transmedia experience that Brand New-U promises to be - compelling, groundbreaking, thrilling and of exceptional quality. I have great faith that it will find theatrical and online audiences in Europe, Asia and the US.” “Our input in script, production, editing, PR and marketing has been taken on board which makes this co-production one of the most pleasant so far,” he continues. “It has triggered a mutual desire to continue our collaboration and therefore Hot Property and Rinkel Film are already discussing new collaborations.”
is dancing but there is also death and destruction.” “The film deserves (its selection) because of its generosity and its broad gestures and I hope the Cannes selection will open doors for other directors from Kazakhstan,” he adds.
“What I saw and experienced was a nation waking up after a long sleep,” he comments. “I saw people becoming citizens. Citizens, who were ready to sacrifice their lives in order to defend their human dignity and their right to build a free society. Why did this film have to be made? Because I had to make it. I had to understand Maidan, to solve its enigma. Filmmaking for me is a way of solving problems.”
Maidan Voyage Sergei Loznitsa’s Maidan, a vivid account of the recent Ukrainian “awakening” and produced by Dutch production house Atoms & Void BV, is selected for Special Screening at Cannes 2014. Loznitsa, who has been twice-selected for Cannes competition, decided to make the film on visiting his home city of Kiev in December 2013.
Adds producer Maria Choustova-Baker: “Of course, it is fantastic to have an opportunity to present the film to the most enlightened, engaged and professional audience - the audience in Cannes. We are tremendously grateful to the Netherlands Film Fund’s Frank Peijnenburg and Doreen Boonekamp for their support and their cultural vision… We asked the Fund for the “afwerking” (finishing) grant and the decision was made within a few weeks! Their support was crucial and enabled us to create the film exactly in the way Sergei wanted it, with the best European professionals working with us.”
Dutch Films in Cannes 2014 Market premiere Cat and Mouse
A Christmoose Story
Drama, 95’ Direction: Maartje Seyferth, Victor Nieuwenhuis Script: Maartje Seyferth Production: Moskito Film (NL), in co-production with MetaLuna(FR) Sales: Reel Suspects A surreal film-noir that takes place in an unidentified European landscape. It is the story of an adolescent girl and how past and present tangle together in a inextricable world.
Family, 85’ Direction: Lourens Blok Script: Daan Bakker, Marco van Geffen Production: Lemming Film (NL), in co-production with Svens Filmindustri (SE), Davaj Film (SE), Anchorage Entertainment (BE) Sales: Attraction Distribution An uplifting story about an unusual friendship between a boy and a talking Moose. Based on a best-selling novel. Festivals: Berlinale 2014-Generation
Documentary, 83’ Direction: Tommy Pallotta & Femke Wolting Script: Tommy Pallotta & Femke Wolting Production: Submarine Sales: The Match Factory A narrative and documentary journey into the world of a Somali Pirate, exploring how and why he came to live such a brutal existence, using animated re-enactments and raw documentary footage. Festivals: Berlinale Panorama, SXSW Film Festival, Holland Animation FF
Thriller, 90’ Direction: Dick Maas Script: Dick Maas Production: Tom de Mol Productions (NL), Parachute Pictures (NL) Sales: T Films A game show host is being harassed in a restaurant by a strange man who claims to have kidnapped his wife and daughter. A morbid game ensues in which the game show host becomes the contestant. Festivals: Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival 2013
The New Rijksmuseum
Farewell to the Moon
Drama, 90’ Direction: Dick Tuinder Script: Dick Tuinder Production: Column Film (NL) Sales: Media Luna New Films 1972. The last man on the moon. A boys’ first love affair. Festivals: International Film Festival Rotterdam Tiger Awards Competition
Drama, 108’ Direction: Tamar van den Dop Script: Tamar van den Dop Production: Revolver (NL) in co-production with IJswater Films (NL), COIN Film (DE), Epidemic (BE) Sales: Wide Management All that Meis (15) experiences is the passing of the time, waiting for the next car to hit her house. Festivals: Berlinale 2014-Generation
Photo: Victor Arnolds
The New Wilderness
Documentary, 97’ Direction: Mark Verkerk, Ruben Smit Script: Mark Verkerk, Leo van der Goot, Ruben Smit, Hans Dorrestijn Production: EMS Films (NL) Sales: Atlas International Film The four seasons and the cycles of wildlife and death as they occur in a natural reserve, situated just 20 miles from Amsterdam. Shot in 4K Cinemascope.
Tula: the Revolt
Drama, 100’ Direction: Jeroen Leinders Script: Curtis Holt Hawkins Production: FishEye Feature Films (NL) Sales: VMI Worldwide Feature film about the leader of the slave uprising on the island of Curacao, a Dutch colony in 1795. Festivals: Trinidad and Tobago Film Fest 2013, New York Film Fest- African Diaspora 2013, San Diego Black Film Fest 2014
Documentary, 120’ Direction: Oeke Hoogendijk Script: Oeke Hoogendijk Production: Column Film (NL) Sales: Autlook Films Over a period of ten years we follow the fascinating and complicated process of rebuilding Holland’s most famous museum, the Rijksmuseum.
David Bijker Producer on the Move, Cannes 2014 Producer David Bijker of Bijker Films says he has a passion for familyfriendly TV and film content, both fiction and non-fiction. “I want to tell stories that matter to kids and families, stories that inspire and reach many people. That’s my goal,” he says.
As well as being a hit at home, the film toured the festival circuit winning several prizes including the Audience Award at TIFF KIDS in 2012. Oslobased Cinenord released a Norwegian remake of the film in January 2014, which also did very well locally.
The Amsterdam-based company broke out internationally with Dennis Bots’ Cool Kids Don’t Cry in 2010. The film was adapted from teacher Jacques Vriens’ novel, based on the real-life story of one of his pupils who courageously fought leukaemia.
Bijker has a number of exciting projects in the works, most notably Falko – the Letter of Fire, The Sword D’Artagnan and Superteacher! The latter is a family adventure, adapted from Janneke Schotveld’s popular children’s books about a teacher who
turns into a super-heroine every time she hears an animal in distress. Falko – The Letter of Fire, a family adventure sets during the Reformation, received a Netherlands Film Fund Telescope grant of €1.8 million. The Telescope scheme focusses on Dutch quality films that aim at reaching a wide audience. Prior to that, Bots will shoot The Sword D’Artagnan, a contemporary drama about a young girl’s search for her famous ancestor’s sword.