Rosto gets animated Take the Netherlands: one year in Marten Rabarts: branding Dutch cinema Bruno Felix: Submarine’s 360° approach Hisko Hulsing on Montage of Heck
Issue #19 May 2015 Cannes/Annecy issue Download the free app for iPad and Android
Index 3 View from the edge Olivia Stewart – Producer and international script consultant 4-7 One Year In Netherlands Film Fund CEO Doreen Boonekamp on the Film Production Incentive’s successful first year 8-9 Oui to Belgium The Netherlands and Wallonia are set to sign a coproduction treaty. See NL reports 10-11 The Flying Dutchman Netherlands Film Commissioner Bas van der Ree explains the benefits of shooting in Holland 12-13 The Lobster Lemming Film’s Leontine Petit on her co-pro investment in the Cannes competitor 14-15 Land and Shade Frans van Gestel on Topkapi’s interest in César Acevedo’s debut feature, screening in Critics Week 16-17 Direction Cannes Gurvinder Singh’s second feature Fourth Direction was backed by the Hubert Bals Fund and then IFFR’s Boost. Now it screens in Un Certain Regard
26-27 The Long View Film Fund animation consultant Peter Lindhout will be banging the drum for Dutch animation in Annecy 28-29 The Band is Back As is Rosto with his short film Splintertime, in competition in Annecy 30-31 Heck of a Job Hisko Hulsing discusses his animated work for the global hit doc Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck 32-33 True Colours EYE Chief Curator Giovanna Fossati discusses the impact of colour in the Silent Era 34-35 Keeping it Green Els Rientjes, recently appointed Sustainability Manager for the Netherlands film industry, gets eco with See NL 36-37 360° approach Emmy awardwinning Submarine’s Bruno Felix talks about his company’s success 38-39 Short Cuts News from the Dutch film industry 40 Picture profile Thekla Reuten
18-19 Joining a Commune: Frans van Gestel explains why he boarded Thomas Vinterberg’s new feature The Commune 20-21 EYE on International New EYE International chief Marten Rabarts on promoting Dutch cinema 22-23 Brand NL Branding the Netherlands film industry within the global market 24-25 Producer on the Move PRPL’s Ellen Havenith represents the Netherlands at the annual EFP event in Cannes. She discusses the hows and the whys of production with See NL Cover still: Splintertime Director: Rosto Script: Rosto Production: Studio Rosto Sales: Autour de Minuit See page 28
Still: Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck See page 30
View from the edge COLOPHON
international platform and invited the best of the world’s film professionals both as advisors and participants - believing that dialogue with the rest of the world would benefit all, including the Dutch film industry.
Olivia Stewart, producer, mentor for Binger and NFDC-India, and cocreator of the EYE Prize for Art and Film, reflects on the Dutch impact on international production.
In 2008 I was asked by Marten Rabarts whether I would be interested in coming to work with him and Ido Abram at the Binger Film Lab in Amsterdam as a script advisor for their Writers and Directors’ programmes. I said I was, and the experience was a revelation. Once again I found myself in a world where talent and content, rather than marketing potential, was given first position. Binger was fantastic in both its pursuit of excellence and its protection of the creative process, and it seemed to reflect very well the Dutch mindset - in which national ego takes second place to the recognition and development of talent within an international context. It’s also what makes Amsterdam such an attractive and desirable place to work. Binger embodied the view that there is no reason why you have to operate within boundaries. It provided an
The financial support given by Rotterdam’s Hubert Bals Fund (HBF) has transformed the lives of many talented directors. Together with CineMart, the HBF broke the mould of film finance and development and made the world stage both wider and much more accessible. Later, the Boost! programme launched by Binger, CineMart, the HBF and the NFDC meant that filmmakers from emerging countries were also able to find international support in realising their films. Fourth Direction, a beautiful and important film by Gurvinder Singh - a uniquely talented filmmaker with absolute confidence in his cinematic vision - is a Boost! film and has been selected for Un Certain Regard 2015. What Binger, Cinemart and the Hubert Bals Fund did, and what EYE and the Netherlands Film Fund are doing now, is to provide a forum for creativity - a modern version of a café society, like Paris in the 30s or New York in the 60s. This makes EYE a perfect home for the EYE Prize. For many talented filmmakers and artists, Amsterdam is becoming the new cultural magnet - everybody wants to come there.
See NL is published four times per year by EYE International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals. Editors in chief: Marten Rabarts (EYE), Jonathan Mees (Netherlands Film Fund) Executive editor: Nick Cunningham Contributors: Geoffrey Macnab, Melanie Goodfellow and Olivia Stewart Concept & Design: Lava.nl, Amsterdam Layout: def., Amsterdam Printing: mediaLiaison Printed on FSC paper Circulation: 2450 copies © All rights reserved: The Netherlands Film Fund and EYE International 2015 CONTACT Sandra den Hamer CEO EYE E firstname.lastname@example.org Marten Rabarts Head of EYE International E email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Ellis Driessen International Affairs Netherlands Film Fund E email@example.com Jonathan Mees Head of Communications 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
One Year In… It was the big news from the Netherlands at last year’s Cannes festival, writes Geoffrey Macnab. After many months of lobbying and negotiation, the country was finally in the position to announce its new 30% cash rebate scheme for local and foreign filmmakers.
is clear and transparent - in other words user-friendly. There isn’t a mountain of paper work. The rebate is paid up promptly. To access it, producers must pass a points system. The pot is limited (the rebate was capped this year at a little over €25 million) but it still represents a huge opportunity.
Twelve months on, it is already apparent that the scheme has had a transformative effect on the local industry. “Since the launch last year, it (cash rebate scheme) really did what we expected it to do,” states Netherlands Film Fund CEO Doreen Boonekamp. “Actually even better!”
Projects looking for a grant from the scheme should have 50% of their budget in place and firm plans for a Dutch release. (This can be non-theatrical for minority Dutch projects.) One early film to take advantage of the rebate scheme has been The Night Of A Thousand Hours, the €6.6 million Euro drama produced by Amour Fou, directed by Virgil Widrich and co-scripted by the legendary Jean-Claude Carriere. The film follows a young man who takes over his family business. The moment he does so, ghosts of long dead relatives begin to appear to him and try to guide him.
The scheme is still very new but its initial results are easy to measure. At the time of writing (in mid-April), the Fund had given grants to 67 projects. 48 of these were international co-productions, both majority and minority Dutch. Boonekamp fought for the rebate to be established for 2 key reasons. On the one hand, the Film Fund CEO was desperate to boost the local production sector and to stem the talent drain. (Some of the country’s best professionals - especially those working in post-production - were being lured abroad in search of work.) On the other, the goal was to attract international producers and inward investment. Initial responses from foreign producers suggest that the scheme
The Night Of A Thousand Hours hasn’t actually been shooting in the Netherlands but its very ambitious VFX and post-production work is being carried out by Filmmore Amsterdam. Dutch involvement comes as a result of the producer Alexander Dumreicher-Ivanceanu of Vienna and Luxembourg-based Amour Fou wanting to work with Dutch colleague Hanneke Niens of KeyFilm. Dumreicher-Ivanceanu met Niens at an EAVE workshop and immediately struck up a rapport
with her. “It was a very good encounter. We said that if one day one of us has a project that seems interesting to the other, we should stay in contact,” he comments. Thanks to the cash rebate, it became much easier to bring the Dutch aboard. “Before, it was quite complicated to make international co-productions,” DumreicherIvanceanu says of the chance the rebate gave him to strike a partnership with KeyFilm. “We had a project that she (Niens) liked and that was also quite interesting for the Netherlands. And what the Netherlands could give was interesting for us.” Many of the key creative technicians on the film, including the art director and the costume designer, are Dutch. Visual effects and post-production house Filmmore Amsterdam also have an important creative part in the project, which is the first ever Austria/Luxembourg/ Dutch co-production. “We do not just have the cash rebate. We also have the support of minority co-production scheme,” explains Dumreicher-Ivanceanu of the film’s two different sources of Dutch support. “You can combine the two systems.” One high-profile international production that has come to the Netherlands because of its minority co-production scheme is Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s The
Still: The Night Of A Thousand Hours, which received a cash rebate via Netherlands Film Production Incentive
Still: Code M by Dennis Bots
Commune, on which Topkapi Films is the minority Dutch partner. Vinterberg’s team did wardrobe and music in the Netherlands. Meanwhile, alongside the rebate scheme and minority co-production scheme, various new regional funds have been springing up in recent months. Probably the most prominent is the Limburg Fund, based in the South East of the Netherlands. The region shares borders (and therefore a surprisingly ‘Dutch’ landscape of forested hills and valleys, devoid of windmills and canals) with Germany and Belgium. The new fund, which has already backed Dennis Bots’ youth-oriented swashbuckler Code M, is modelled on the highly successful regional funds found elsewhere in Europe. “They make use of the knowledge we have,” says Boonekamp. The incentives on their own wouldn’t be enough to galvanise the local industry. To attract international producers and then to hold their attention, the Dutch have needed to prove that they have capable technicians and can offer strong potential co-production partners. In both cases, the Dutch are coming up trumps. Boonekamp confirms that the rebate has helped support features in the €1 million to €11 million range. The bigger budget films backed include Tokyo Trials from director Pieter Verhoeff, Dutch seafaring epic Admiral from Roel
Reiné and Martin Koolhoven’s Brimstone, to which Carice van Houten and Robert Pattinson are attached. Also a number of docs with budgets of €250.000 and over have received support. What hasn’t come to the Netherlands, at least at this stage, are the US studio tentpole movies. “The projects we have got in are mainly productions set up within Europe,” Boonekamp acknowledges. “The focus of this scheme is on both creative and technical co-productions.” One of the chief goals is to increase production activity through co-production. Boonekamp suggests that it would take a huge amount of investment to fully equip the Netherlands with everything international producers might need. Instead, in the short term at least, the aim is to concentrate on what the Dutch already offer - top crews, locations and excellent post-production facilities. Boonekamp accepts the need to invest further in training to ensure that there are sufficient numbers of skilled technicians available to work on co-productions. However, she also points to the new opportunities opening up in every sector of the industry. For example, there are now more Dutch-based sales companies attending films markets, among them Mountain Road and Dutch Features.
Meanwhile, Dutch films are increasingly being picked up by international sales agents. For example, Sacha Polak’s recent film Zurich is being handled by leading German company Beta Cinema while Martin Koolhoven’s Brimstone is represented by London-based Embankment. In Cannes this year, Dutch producers will be meeting with their British counterparts to discuss co-production opportunities something that would have been unthinkable without the rebate system in place. The overtures to the British and also to the Scandinavians follow on from the recently signed co-production treaty with Germany and a new pact with the Frenchspeaking Community of Belgium (see p8). Meanwhile, the Dutch continue to maintain close ties with their Irish counterparts. There are four application rounds this year for those looking to use the new rebate. In every part of the Dutch industry, from wardrobe and location scouting to production, post-production, sales and distribution, activity is increasing. As Boonekamp puts it, “Obviously, this is a result of the Dutch film industry reaching out much more to the international market instead of only acting inside our borders.”
Oui oui to Belgium The Dutch have traditionally enjoyed a close relationship with the Flemish community in Belgium but are now keen to foster closer ties with Belgium’s French-speakers via a co-pro treaty. Geoffrey Macnab reports. Netherlands Film Fund CEO Doreen Boonekamp talks up the importance of the Dutch film industry “connecting much more” with the Wallonians. Jeanne Brunfaut, Deputy DG of the Service général de l’audiovisuel et des médias Ministère de la Fédération WallonieBruxelles, likewise talks up the advantages of the new partnership. “In the French-speaking part of Belgium, we are very much into co-production because we are such a small territory. We need to co-produce in order to be able to develop more films,” she says. Traditionally, the Wallonians have looked to co-produce with France, Luxembourg and Switzerland. However, as it becomes more difficult to get money out of France (which now tends to concentrate on homegrown films), Wallonia is eager to diversify. The treaty with the Dutch is one of a number of new partnerships the territory is looking to strike. “We’re also working with Brazil, Mexico and Chile,” Brunfaut says. “We are trying to find new [areas] that we think are very interesting for our producers and directors.” As Boonekamp notes, whenever a new co-production treaty is being
prepared, there are invariably already strong ties between the partners. The Dutch and the Wallonians are already collaborating on several projects. For example, both are backing Kebab Royal, the latest feature from the Belgium-based filmmakers Peter Brosens and Jessica Woolworth. This is billed as a surrealistic tale about the last king of the Belgians getting lost in the Balkans. It is produced by Brussels-based Entre Chien Et Loup (who recently minority co-produced the Dutch The Sky Above Us by Marinus Groothof). Marion Hansel’s Belgium project En amont du fleuve is co-produced with SNG Producties (NL) while the Belgian Savage Film doc The Land of the Enlightened is partnered by Dutch Submarine. Both Boonekamp and Brunfaut share the same commitment to “strong, creative and technical co-productions. “We have been working on this from the very start,” Boonekamp stresses. “We are both very keen on improving the relations between us. When both countries have the same view on this point, it makes sense to work together.” It shouldn’t be just a matter of money, Boonekamp stresses. There has to be shared artistic vision as well - a desire to make the same kind of movies. This is a twin-pronged initiative. First of all, the Dutch and the Wallonians want to co-produce
movies together. Secondly, and just as importantly, they are driving to ensure that their movies are seen by each other’s cinemagoers. “It is something we have to build together,” Brunfaut agrees. Both partners offer strong incentives for filmmakers. The Netherlands is benefitting from its 30% cash rebate scheme while Belgium has its tax shelter. Films made under the terms of co-pro treaties should be able to access support from both schemes. There may be one or two linguistic hurdles to overcome. Not all Dutch filmmakers speak French - and not all French-speaking Belgian filmmakers speak Dutch. That is why the co-pro agreement is being drafted in three languages, French, Flemish… and English. Nonetheless, Brunfaut and Boonekamp are optimistic that the filmmakers from the two territories will find a way of communicating with each other. There is plenty of bureaucracy and form-filling that needs to be dealt with before the treaty passes into law. However, both Brunfaut and Boonekamp are optimistic that the treaty will be ratified later this year. In the meantime, during Cannes, there will be an informal meeting between Dutch and Wallonian filmmakers. “All our main production companies are very good at producing with other countries so they will have no problem in trying out a new country like Holland,” Brunfaut declares.
‘It shouldn’t be just a matter of money…’
Still: The Sky Above Us
Photo: Lenny Oisterwijk
â€˜In the Netherlands you are not imprisoned by distanceâ€™
Bas van der Ree Hotel Hunzebergen in Exloo, The Netherlands
The Flying Dutchman A year into the job, Netherlands Film Commissioner Bas van der Ree has been racking up plenty of airmiles, roaming the world, alerting international filmmakers to the benefits of shooting in the Netherlands, not least the Film Production Incentive launched at Cannes 2014. Geoffrey Macnab reports. “I have travelled to Sarajevo, Venice and New York. I’ve been in Turin and Tallin. I’ve been in Riga and I’ve been to Los Angeles,” mentions the Commissioner of his numerous destinations in recent months. At many festivals, he will have a stand that will include huge blow-up photos and flat screen monitors displaying some of the “great locations” the Dutch have to offer. Wherever he goes, the Commissioner will be on hand to let potential visitors into some of the best-kept secrets about the Dutch film industry. For example, that the country is so compact that every location can be reached within two hours of Amsterdam (Schiphol) Airport. “You don’t need days of travel, days of location recce,” Van der Ree explains. “You don’t have to feel imprisoned by distance.” Van der Ree works closely with local partners, for example the team behind the recently established regional fund in Limburg. He is in the process of establishing a network of regional film
commissions in Limburg itself, in Utrecht, Friesland, Zeeland and Eindhoven. There are already commissions active in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague. These regional bodies play, or will play, a vital role in enabling international filmmakers to secure the permits and information they need to shoot in any given area, advising on such subjects as production crews, rentals, facilities, even hotels. He encourages staff from these commissions to take courses offered by the Association of Film Commissions International and the European Film Commission Network. As the national Film Commissioner, Van der Ree is expected to have a strong working knowledge of what is on offer in every region of the Netherlands. Part of the job is being a tour guide. A delegation from China came to the Netherlands recently to research locations for a potential feature shoot and to learn more about the Production Incentive. “They had been very eager over many months to talk with me,” Van der Ree notes. The Film Fund provides financial support for such visits. What are the most frequent questions Van der Ree is asked about shooting in Holland? The Commissioner points to frequent queries about how many films can shoot concurrently in the country. He is also asked if the country and its professionals are trustworthy. As
he notes, even asking such a question implies that the filmmakers have probably had bad experiences elsewhere. He also goes out of his way to reassure his questioners that the probity of the long established Film Fund is beyond question. Another added advantage is that every Dutch person speaks English. “That amazes people a lot. We really do speak fluent English…the crews, the rentals, the hotels, the restaurants, bars, everywhere! That is a major advantage.” Van der Ree has other pieces of information up his sleeve to impress foreign producers. The industry isn’t heavily unionised – a fact that some consider an advantage. The WiFi in the Netherlands ranks with the fastest in the world. No, he will tell them, the country doesn’t have big studios to compare with Pinewood or Barrandov - but there is plenty of adaptable warehouse space and re-purposed shipyards, as well as smaller studio facilities. Will 2015 be as busy as 2014 travel-wise? Yes, says Van der Ree. This year is all about increasing awareness and “repeating the message” to foreign producers that the Netherlands is open for business and that the incentive has already granted 67 projects a total amount of of 17.5 million euro. “It’s like Heineken. Everybody knows the brand but they still have to advertise to sell more beer.”
Lobster rocks! Yorgos Lanthimos
Producer Leontine Petit talks to Melanie Goodfellow about the role of the Netherlands in Palme d’Or contender The Lobster. Greek filmmaker Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster is one of the most eagerly awaited Palme d’Or contenders at the Cannes Film Festival this year. Not only is Oscar-nominated Lanthimos regarded as Greece’s finest contemporary director, the international cast he has assembled for his English-language debut is also prompting buzz and promises one of the most glamorous red carpets of the festival. Stars include John C. Reilly, Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Ben Whishaw and French actress Léa Seydoux. Festival chief Thierry Fremaux said of the film: “It’s one of those films which you don’t really understand fully but which is fascinating nonetheless for the way in which the filmmaker, screenwriter and cast have come together to create an extravagant narrative… it’s the sort of film we love to have at Cannes.” Behind the scenes lies an elaborate, and equally cosmopolitan,
co-production in which the Netherlands played its part through the involvement of Leontine Petit, Derk-Jan Warrink and Joost de Vries of Lemming Film. The Amsterdambased company is no stranger to Official Selection, having coproduced previous Palme d’Or contenders Sergei Loznitsa’s My Joy (2010) and (2012), and Amat Escalante’s Heli in 2013. Lemming discovered The Lobster at the 2013 CineMart co-production market, where it was presented by Lanthimos and lead producer Ed Guiney of Dublin-based Element Pictures. “I’d known Ed through ACE for nearly ten years,” explains Petit. “We immediately expressed our interest and said we would be over the moon to get involved. Derk-Jan kept emailing, reiterating we were big fans of Yorgos.” “I think initially, they hadn’t thought of Holland as an obvious partner for the film… but they were looking for a missing 10% of the budget. I think the CineMart meeting and the fact Ed and I already knew one another convinced them to give it a shot.” Lemming pulled together some €400,000 for the film, securing Netherlands Film Fund support, Eurimages production funding and a pre-sale to Dutch distributor De Filmfreak and competitive deals with a number of Dutch postproduction houses. Amsterdam-
based Storm Post Production worked on the colour grading, some of the visual effects and the DCP mastering while Johnny Burn of WAVE Studios and re-recording mixer Danny Van Spreuwel of Warnier Posta worked on the sound. “Not only were we involved in a beautiful project but we also made some great contacts through it, such as Carole Scotta at Haut et Court (France), and got to know Ed much better. These new connections were great and we feel we might be able move on with that in the future,” says Petit. She describes the whole operation as a textbook European co-pro. “Of course there were endless Skypes but all the partners were so experienced at co-productions it ran very smoothly. People understood when to give and take,” she says. In Cannes, the Lemming team will also be working on financing new minority co-productions; Argentine Lucretia Martel’s Zama, based on Antonio di Benedetto’s 1950s existentialist classic, Alireza Khatami’s HBF-supported debut feature Oblivion Verses, and Monos by Alejandro Landes and Alexis Dos Santos. Interestingly Zama was also presented at CineMart 2013, winning The WorldView New Genres Fund Development Award for the Best CineMart 2013 Project. It appears to have been a vintage year.
‘The sort of film we love to have at Cannes’
Script: Efthimis Filippou, Yorgos Lanthimos Production: Element Pictures (IE), Lemming Film (NL) Sales: Protagonist Pictures
Cannes Critics Week
Hail César César Acevedo
Land And Shade (which screens in Critics Week at Cannes) is a Colombian movie that the Dutch helped coax into existence, explains Geoffrey Macnab. The first feature by César Acevedo, Land and Shade is the story of an old farmer returning to his home, but realising when he gets there that he is completely estranged from his family and the village where he grew up. Industrialisation has transformed the countryside he remembers so vividly. Acevedo’s feature was made with support from Hubert Bals Fund Plus, the scheme which combines the forces of IFFR (Rotterdam) and the Netherlands Film Fund to bring Dutch co-producers together with innovative and talented filmmakers from developing countries. Topkapi Films, the Dutch partner on Land And Shade, received €50.000 toward the completion of the project from Netherlands Film Fund. “It took a while before we saw the final result but I have to say we are pretty happy with the film,” states Topkapi Films’ Frans van Gestel.
“It’s a very mature film and the director did an excellent job. He brings the best of South American cinema to the screen. There is a nice, quiet pacing and the drama is strong. It has this combination of slow but secure pacing and a well built dramatic arc. It’s an amazing film. There is a lot to enjoy in terms of strong images and beautiful shots.” As a Dutch producer working on a Latin American film, van Gestel acknowledges that he wasn’t intimately involved in the day-to-day shooting of Land And Shade. “We are a minority co-producer with a limited amount of production money.” However, Acevedo did much of the post-production for the film in the Netherlands. “And that really went well,” van Gestel adds. Throughout production, the Topkapi team were in touch with the Colombian producers, Burning Blue. The Dutch were able to offer strategic advice about such matters as possible sales agents and the best way to position the film at festivals. Did van Gestel expect the Cannes selection or was he taken by surprise? “In the middle,” the Topkapi boss reflects. “On the one hand, when I saw the film, I thought “wow, this is strong. It is compact.” I had good hopes but, still, for a small Colombian film to be in Cannes…well, I was surprised… It is well deserved!”
Topkapi tends to work very closely with Benelux distribution company September Film Distribution. “I think there is a big, big chance September Film will release the film for Benelux.” Yes, van Gestel believes the film will have a resonance for Dutch audiences. “It is typical South American art-house but a strong version of that. There is absolutely a market for the film but it is a small market and we have to be honest about that. It really will help if the film gets a prize or something spectacular happens (in Cannes).” He adds that he is optimistic that Land And Shade will catch the eyes of critics and distributors during Cannes and beyond. “In terms of reviews and making a strong trailer, there is absolutely a good [prospect} in the film houses for this film.” Van Gestel may have long experience of attending festivals and major markets but he insists that his job as co-producer is to offer support, not to tell his partners what to do. “I think I always absolutely respect the main producer in whatever co-production it is,” he says. “If they want my opinion or if they want to use my experience, I am always there. That is the way it should be.”
Land and Shade
‘If they want to use my experience, I am always there’
Script: César Acevedo Production: Burning Blue (Colombia) – unafilm (Germany) – Ciné-Sud Promotion (France), Topkapi Films (NL) Sales: Pyramide International
Cannes Un Certain Regard
Direction Cannes had on the mental and psychological constitution of people in Punjab. The stories compelled me to make the film.”
Gurvinder Singh’s Fourth Direction (Chauthi Koot) was supported by the Hubert Bals Fund and developed within IFFR’s Boost! programme, run with the Binger and NFDC-India. Now the film is selected for Un Certain Regard, writes Nick Cunningham. The highly political Fourth Direction, an India-France co-production adapted from a brace of short stories by Punjabi writer Waryam Singh Sandhu, covers a period of turmoil within India’s recent past. The film addresses the anti-Sikh pogroms of the 1980s and the sense of fear and insecurity they engendered across the country. As political as the film’s premise may be, Singh’s approach to the material, however, is anything but polemical. “The film does not try to uncover the reasons for these excesses or who was to blame. It deals with what turmoil does to everyday living for the ordinary person,” the director commented after the Cannes announcement. “When I read Waryam Singh’s collection of stories I realized what impact those events
Script consultant and the film’s creative producer Olivia Stewart (see View from the Edge, page 3) recognises the challenges facing filmmakers such as Singh, and the kind of films he makes. The work of Boost! and NFDC was, she believes, vital in allowing him to be able to express his “unique talent”. “Bollywood is successful, and therefore cinema in India is seen as an industry” she comments. “So films and filmmakers that don’t conform to an established commercial criteria have a hard time finding support both at the production and distribution stages. The NFDC Script Labs, headed by Marten Rabarts until recently and which I have been a part of since 2009, have contributed enormously to a re-launch of independent Indian cinema. The NFDC Labs and Film Bazaar’s Co-Production Market, together with the support of organisations like the Hubert Bals Fund and Binger, mean that [directors like Singh] can find co-producers vital not only to the financing, but, also, immeasurably important for demonstrating that there are eager and appreciative audiences for them to make their films, both via an international festival circuit and foreign sales and distribution.”
Singh adds: “Despite a premier at Venice, Alms for a Blind Horse [his debut film] didn’t get distributed the way I would have liked it to, but Cannes will open [up] a wider audience. It will obviously be screened in France but I would like it to reach audiences in America and Canada... It is a Punjabi film for the world audience.” Fourth Direction received Hubert Bals Fund support in 2012 with a contribution towards its script and project development. (Land and Shade was also a beneficiary of HBF and Boost! support – see p18). Fund manager Iwana Chronis expresses her satisfaction with Singh’s Cannes outcome, and is proud of HBF’s contribution to this success. “After seeing Singh’s Alms for a Blind Horse, we were immediately impressed by his strong visual approach and great sense of rhythm, as well as his ability to tell a delicate story with such a sense of nuance and depth. Convinced of the exceptional talent of the director, Fourth Direction was also selected for the Boost! coaching trajectory. “Through Boost!, the project was further developed at Binger, where it received intensive script consultancy sessions, after which producer Kartikeya Singh participated in IFFR’s Rotterdam Lab. We congratulate the filmmaker and his team on the realisation of this beautiful film.”
‘A delicate story with such a sense of nuance and depth’
Script: Waryam Singh Sandhyu, Gurvinder Singh Production: The Film Café (India) (made with the support of the BOOST! Programme (2011) of Hubert Bals Fund, CineMart, Binger Filmlab, NFDC-India
Joining a Commune Blue (2011) and he has worked several times with Zentropa co-founder Peter Aalbæk Jensen.
Thomas Vinterberg’s feature The Commune attracted the co-pro interest of leading Dutch producer Frans van Gestel, who talks to Geoffrey Macnab. The Commune, a Danish film scripted by Tobias Lindholm, is a story about the clash between personal desires, solidarity and tolerance in a commune in the 1970s. It is understood to have an autobiographical undertow – director Thomas Vinterberg himself grew up in a commune in the 1970s – and the cast is led by some of Scandinavian cinema’s most familiar faces, among them Ulrich Thomsen, Trine Dyrholm, Fares Fares and Lars Ranthe. Now in post-production, The Commune was shot in Sweden and Denmark. Delve beneath the surface, though, and you will find several Dutch elements in the project. For a start, the film marks yet another collaboration between Danish production powerhouse Zentropa and Frans van Gestel of Topkapi Films. Van Gestel’s working relationship with Zentropa extends back to Urszula Antoniak’s Code
In order to qualify The Commune for Eurimages support, Zentropa needed an extra European co-production partner alongside their Swedish collaborators, The Danes therefore turned to Topkapi to minority co-produce, who were also able to bring financial support to the film through the Netherlands Film Fund’s co-production fund. This is the first film on which van Gestel has worked with Thomas Vinterberg and Topkapi brought key creative input to the project from the Netherlands, including Ellen Lens (costume design), Marly van de Wardt (make-up) and Daniël Bouquet (2nd camera operator). Additionally, there is also a Dutch composer, the highly regarded Fons Merkies. “We were in contact of course with the producer (Sisse Graum Jørgensen) about what kind of people they needed,” van Gestel reflects. The Commune has some of the same hallmarks as Lukas Moodysson’s comedy Together (2000) but van Gestel suggests it is far darker in tone. “It is getting a bit more nasty!” The film was pre-bought for the Netherlands by Pim Hermeling’s September Films. Hermeling, like van Gestel, has a long association with the Danes and has acquired many films from Zentropa’s sales agents, TrustNordisk. While the
film wasn’t ready for Cannes (where Vinterberg enjoyed past success with Festen and The Hunt) it is bound to turn up a major festival later in the year. In future, it is more conceivable that Danish films like The Commune could shoot (in part) in Holland. After all, the country has much more to offer foreign producers with its new 30% cash rebate and its emerging regional film funds. However, van Gestel urges a note of caution about expecting the cash incentive to revolutionise the Dutch film industry. “It takes some time,” he says of the Incentive’s bedding-in period, “before people find out what are the do’s and don’ts for shooting in a certain region. Always, when you use rebates, there should be a connection with the content. If you have a natural way to spend your money, then it is easy.” The reverse, he adds, is also true. It can be a struggle for producers to shoot in a territory when access to soft money is their only reason to be there. “If you need a giant studio, we don’t have one but if you have to do something with water or with exceptional technical crew, and it’s a story that could take place here in the Netherlands, then you can benefit... That’s the job of the producer - to find the right stories for the right territories. Then you can benefit in the best possible way from a tax rebate.”
Photo: Josef Persson
â€˜When you use rebates, there should be a connection with contentâ€™
Script: Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm Production: Zentropa Entertainment 19 Aps (DK), Zentropa International Sweden (Sweden), Topkapi Films (NL) Sales: TrustNordisk
New EYE on the world Five weeks into the job, Marten Rabarts is weighing up his first Cannes as head of EYE Int’l. He discusses the business of promoting Dutch cinema abroad with Nick Cunningham. Marten Rabarts isn’t Dutch, but one could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. He has lived in Holland for 17 of the past 20 years, a lot of that time as Artistic Director of the renowned Binger Filmlab. Attendees at IFFR (Rotterdam) and the Netherlands Film Festival have long observed Rabarts looking to unite Dutch and international talent, whether producers, directors or writers. And no industry panel, especially when charged with the task of determining the role/impact/ effectiveness of Dutch cinema and talent within a wider international framework, would ever be complete without Rabarts either as contributor or moderator. “I know the Dutch film industry from the inside out,” he stresses. “I’ve worked directly with a critical mass of producers and filmmakers as well as the industry infrastructure; the Film Fund, festivals, trade organisations and EYE itself - this is my core community. I have a grass roots knowledge of what the Dutch industry is today, and also where it’s come from – so it’s that DNA level of understanding that EYE international is using to define its role.” But the job of international
promotional chief for a national film industry is a complex one, and demands a plethora of skillsets. When at Manifesto Film Sales back in 1990, it was Rabarts’ first Cannes job to support promotion on David Lynch’s Wild at Heart. The film won the Palme d’Or and he never looked back. Latterly when developing creative talent at the Binger and NFDC - India, Rabarts looked to apply a more holistic approach, actively introducing filmmakers to the international markets and key players. “When creative talent is empowered to build healthy relationships with equally talented people in the film business arena, everyone benefits.” “Incrementally each of those positions and functions have contributed to my knowledge of film promotion, understanding the processes that it takes not only to get a film into one festival or another, but also how to use that selection as a platform, for not just a single film but also as a means to boost interest and strengthen identity for a national industry.” Rabarts identifies particular USPs about Dutch filmmakers that make the job of presenting them on the international stage particularly stimulating. “They’ll cast an unswerving gaze on areas of the human condition others might shy away from,” he observes. “And at the same time there is something very clean in their approach; we are
taken on journeys of true enquiry, questions asked without sentimentality, and makers avoid letting ‘automatic’ cultural or national positions infect their point of view. Every question can be asked in Dutch society and anyone may raise that question.” In terms of modus operandi, Rabarts wants to work closely with colleagues at the Film Fund and the Commission in presenting the Dutch offer to the world in terms of the films, the Production Incentive, Holland as a location, its array of leading festivals and above all the talent. “It’s the whole package which deserves attention – also Netherlands’ outreach and impact is global as Dutch producers have the ability to co-produce literally anywhere, backed up by a funding system which supports that.” He is also keen to effect a particular “paradigm shift” that will demand keen involvement with new Dutch films at the earliest opportunity. “I hope to get to know projects quite early on, say when a script is at advanced financing stage,” he comments. “But also at edit stage. I’m always really pleased to be invited into those discussions as films are being shaped. It’s the kind of hands-on engagement that helps me and my team to better understand a filmmaker’s vision and to take a stake in that vision ourselves. Promoting a film is a lot about the stuff you can’t put in an email.”
Photo: Yvonne Witte
â€˜Dutch filmmakers cast an unswerving gaze on the human conditionâ€™
Head of EYE International Marten Rabarts
#Cool #Global With highly talented directors filling the key slots at A-list festivals, intrepid producers exporting their co-pro knowhow to all corners of the globe and generous cash rebates on offer to top international filmmakers, the time is ripe to communicate the Dutch film brand to the world. EYE Int’l chief Marten Rabarts talks ‘cool’ with SEE NL. Articulating the attributes of a country’s audiovisual offer to the world isn’t always so straightforward. Across the global film industry, almost since its inception, incalculable amounts of time have been spent by int’l executives around tables, in committee - trying to define the essence of what makes their given industry unique. But when a national industry’s list of attributes seem as long as your arm, the process can be more clear-cut, especially in the case of the Dutch whose filmmaking talent, both in front of and behind the camera - actors, directors, producers, technical - is something to really brag about. And in IDFA, Rotterdam and Cinekid, Holland has three events that have been game-changers in global film finance and co-pro. As importantly, within the Dutch DNA there resides a vagabond curiosity whereby the appeal of the wider world and its sense of ‘otherness’, as Rabarts puts it, is too great for the Dutch to ignore.
“Holland sits at the centre of international film production like a hub,” he says. “And its spokes reach out to Buenos Aires or in Manila just as easily as they do Brussels or Paris. Our producers will regularly look to work with the likes of Alexander Sokurov and Lisandro Alonso, A-list directors from cultures and places that are so far flung, so different from here, and successfully engage with them to support their award-winning works. Dutch cinema needs to be recognised for its global reach.” “Then there is the courage of the Film Fund to open up its coffers to make that co-production work possible, which means that we have two very powerful headlines. On the one hand Dutch film talent and the Dutch industry is very cool, and on the other it is truly global.” The ‘cool’ to which Rabarts refers is evidenced in spades with the likes of Nanouk Leopold, David Verbeek, Esther Rots, Sam de Jong, Saskia Diesing and Urszula Antoniak, impressing myriad programmers and festival directors with their brilliant, smart, challenging and highly idiosyncratic film works. “And Alex van Warmerdam has, and always will be, cool,” adds Rabarts. “It is not just the new generation.” Rabarts tells of an epiphany moment at Berlinale 2015, just after his EYE appointment, “I was at the Co-production Rocks party, in full flow with 500 people dancing. I
looked up and I saw a beautiful young woman climb onstage with two or three friends, and as they danced together in a kind of impromptu performance piece, right in front of the DJ, I realized it was Sacha Polak and her team whose film Zurich was screening in the Berlinale Forum. That moment captured what is so fearless and creative and beautiful and cool about the emerging generation of Dutch filmmakers, breaking the ‘rules’, celebrating and making it better for all of us.” “Dutch cool goes back to Van Gogh, Rietveldt, Mondriaan, the Amsterdam hippie era and 80’s House raves right through to Viktor &Rolf and DJ Tiesto,” Rabarts asserts. “Internationally that is the perception - we just have to throw the switch on COOL.” At Cannes 2015 the Dutch Pavilion itself will become an embodiment of Dutch ‘cool’ as it is furnished, lit and decorated by Dutch design luminaries such as Maarten Baas and Marcel Wanders, and the radical Studio Job. “We will present Dutch film within the context of objects, furniture and style that are already recognised globally as the best there is,” Rabarts explains. “We are a visual industry. People see things. And we will be building a physical space and home for Dutch cinema on the Croisette that will lean on and applaud the successes of our fellow creative industries.” NC
Photo: “Perished” Archives Wallpaper by Studio Job for NLXL, sale: www.nlxl.com
â€˜I want to make human interest stories that also break taboosâ€™
Still: Paradise Suite
Producer on the Move
Purple Reine Ellen Havenith of PRPL is the Netherlands’ Producer on the Move at Cannes 2015. She talks films, production… and Goethe with Nick Cunningham. Ellen Havenith is very pleased with PRPL, the name she chose for her company. According to Goethe, she points out, purple is the colour of “inventiveness, originality and inspiration.” If you are working in a purple room, she professes, your sense of creativity is “sky high”. “The colour purple stimulates the parts of the brain where creativity has its origins,” she further stresses. Bearing all that in mind, Havenith is going through something of a purple patch herself right now. Selected as this year’s Dutch Producer on the Move, she is nearing completion of The Paradise Suite, the second feature of highly-rated arthouse helmer Joost van Ginkel (170 Hz, 2011). She is co-producing The Ardennes with prolific Belgian outfit Savage Film, and is taking a minority co-pro credit on the Estonian Rehepapp, a project which attracted €210,000 in Eurimages funding in March 2015. In 2014 her highly controversial Frailer (directed by Mijke de Jong and produced in association with Topkapi Films) was selected for Toronto’s Contemporary World Cinema section. Telling the story of four female friends, the film dismantled the boundaries between
fiction and reality as it chronicled both the fictional and actual deaths of a central character and the actress playing her, Leonoor Pauw. “I want to make films that tell human interest stories but which also break taboos, using forms that are very different or very daring,” Havenith stresses. “Frailer was a fiction that transferred all the events during the shoot into a documentary that deals with death - almost in the form of art.” Likewise the producer’s A Blast (Syllas Tzoumerkas, 2014), selected for (among others) Rotterdam, Locarno and London, was highly inventive in form, juxtaposing one day in the life of a woman with 10 years of recent Greek history, and revealing how she came to leave her previous family life behind. “I have a very personal and intuitive way of working. I really like risk-taking and brave filmmaking,” Havenith explains, citing the likes of Xavier Dolan (Mommy) and van Ginkel, whose debut 170 Hz helped define the type of producer she wanted to be. “When I met Joost I thought ok, let’s speed up the process of starting my own company,” Havenith underlines. “He was an excellent example of the kind of filmmaker I wanted to work with, someone who makes arthouse films but for an audience - that is the most important thing - touching people emotionally, even getting them angry or upset in a way that
they will want to discuss afterwards.” Havenith is an avowed devotee of international co-pro. “I think it is very enriching to work with other cultures. As a producer I meet a lot of people and of course there can be rows and difficulties, but I feel the positive sides of it. And working with international crews enhances the creative process. We worked with a Swedish DOP on The Paradise Suite and it worked perfectly. There can be a really creative connection crossing borders.” But trust remains at the root of any collaborative endeavor and, for Havenith, the Cannes event will offer both time and myriad opportunities to assess the credentials of potential partners. “Yes, co-producing is all about trust and you really need to spend a lot of time -also in social situations - with other co-producers to really see if you can build this level of trust. So during this multiple-day networking event, with its many and varied social activities, you can really find out if you share this emotional, creative and business connection, and to see if you can build on it. That is what I am expecting most, to meet new people and discuss new possible co-productions.” And Havenith’s ambitions for the future, post-Cannes? “My ambitions are quite high. I might stop after I have won an Oscar,” she laughs.
Still: Vincent by Fabie Hulsebos
Walking the line The Netherlands is positioning itself as a viable co-pro partner in the feature-length animation scene, writes Melanie Goodfellow The Netherlands Film Fund and EYE International will be out in force at Annecy’s International Animation Film Market (MIFA) in June. Their key objective will be to present the Netherlands’ burgeoning feature animation scene and also tout the territory’s potential as a co-pro partner on feature-length animation works. “Along with EYE, we’ve taken a stand in the market” says Film Fund animation consultant Peter Lindhout. “We want to talk about how the Netherlands can be a serious partner in European co-productions, present some of our producers and studios and also attempt to connect them with counterparts from other countries.” Dutch producers due to attend as part of the initiative include filmmaker and producer Rosto, who is also screening his latest short Splintertime in festival competition (see page 28), and Bruno Felix of Amsterdam-based Submarine (see page 36), Also in attendance will be Thomas Hietbrink of Pedri Animation, the leading animation production house il Luster, Albert ‘t Hooft of 2d animation company Anikey (Triple Trouble, 2014) and Jolanda Junte of the prolific BosBros. The Film Fund will also take part in
MIFA’s Meet the Funds event aimed at connecting production companies and funds. Lindhout says the co-production drive is linked to both the Fund’s new 30% cash rebate (Film Production Incentive) launched at Cannes 2014, as well as the on-going campaign to build a successful feature-length animation industry in the Netherlands. The Dutch have long been respected for their vibrant animated shorts, producing a number of Oscar nominees and winners in the animated shorts category, including Michaël Dudok de Wit’s 2000 winner Father and Daughter and 2014 nominee A Single Life. Few of the shorts animators succeeded, however, in crossing over into feature-length work. But this has changed. In 2009, the Fund introduced a number of measures aimed at taking local animators to the next level, such as ring-fencing funding for a least one featurelength animation per year and introducing a €50,000 grant for the production of animatics. “The Fund decided to systematically support the development and production of animated features,” says Lindhout, resulting in three features in two years – Miffy the Movie (2013), Triple Trouble and Pim and Pom – the Big Adventure (both 2014). ”We now have more than 15 projects in different stages of
development and production. It is definitely something which is really growing and the Production Incentive we introduced is also a strong support for this business,” says Lindhout. “We’re starting to be part of this European animated feature co-pro market. More than say even live action, animation is something you want to co-produce -- with the right subject-matter it can cross borders more easily,” he adds. Dutch initiated projects in production include Fabie Hulsebos’s Van Gogh biopic Vincent, based on Barbara Stok’s graphic novel about the tragic artist. It is a €2.5m co-production between Submarine and Belgian outfit Walking the Dog. Other projects include comic book adaptation Heinz by Piet Kroon, who previously worked on hits such as Despicable Me and Rio; Erik van Schaaik’s Hieronymus, a portrait of the 15th century artist as a young boy and Rosto’s Mind My Gap. Mascha Halberstad’s Oink’s Revenge, produced by Marleen Slot of Viking Film, is about a girl who wants to keep her pet pig out of the sausage factory. Another exciting project is the big-budget The Little Vampire 3D, produced by Chris Brouwer (Miffy the Movie) of First Look BV and adapted from Angela SommerBodenburg’s best-selling novels.
Photo: Ilona van Genderen
The Band is Back
Artist and filmmaker Rosto returns with Splintertime, the third film in a tetralogy based on his own songs. He talks to Melanie Goodfellow about the work. It has been more than a decade since artist, animator and filmmaker Rosto last played live with his rock ‘n’ roll group The Wreckers, but the spirit of the group lives on through their virtual reincarnation Thee Wreckers. The band’s music is the inspiration for an on-going series of shorts by Rosto, the third instalment of which, Splintertime, will screen in competition at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival this summer. Rosto is a regular guest at the French lakeside festival, where he has shown all his shorts, including the first two films in the Thee Wreckers series - No Place Like Home and Lonely Bones - as well as his off-the-wall, fairy-tale The Monster of Nix. “All four films are based on songs by a band I belonged to in the 1990s.
As happens with bands we passed our expiration date and it was basically over with our share of rock ‘n’ roll, but then I made it into a studio recording project and turned the guys into characters. They’re an über version of the original group. They don’t get old, don’t get girlfriends and children and don’t lose their hair,” explains Rosto. “I made the guys immortal by freezing what they looked like to me back then.” “I wanted to capture the unique spirit of what you go through when you’re a young man and you fall in love with the three guys -- it only lasts for a little while. My theory is that a rock ‘n’ roll group keeps that original fire for about seven years -like The Beatles -- then it’s over. I transcended that by trying to capture the whole thing in a triple album worth of recordings, and in the spirit, quite literally, of the band,” he adds. A co-production between Rosto’s Amsterdam-based Studio Rosto A.D, French Autour de Minuit and Belgian S.O.I.L., the short combines live action with a number of animation techniques. Kicking off where Lonely Bones ended, it shows the band members in the back of an ambulance, being driven around a mysterious empty landscape. A live action epilogue, featuring the real-life band members, hints at what has happened. “These are very intuitive, musical films so I let the
music take me to places. There is no big arc between each short. They’re all individual works that can stand on their own two feet,” says Rosto, who describes the shorts as a sort of Fantasia for the rock and roll age. “Each short is based on a song from Thee Wreckers but I use it as raw material. I pull it apart, get rid of chunks, sometimes remix it, re-record it or even have additional recordings made. The idea is to come up with a new symphony where the visuals and the music blend into a new thing,” he continues. The filmmaker is now mulling ideas for the fourth and final instalment as well as working on the screenplay for a feature adaptation of his graphic novel Mind My Gap, a hybrid live action, animation work also inspired by the music of Thee Wreckers. “Every thing is connected to everything in my oeuvre and for the longest time I have told people I wanted to do a feature film adaptation of the novel but I never really saw how, but with distance, the penny finally dropped and I have a first draft,” says Rosto. Aside from his own projects, Rosto’s company Studio Rosto A.D is also producing Spitsbergen, a magical realist road-movie by UK stopmotion expert Suzie Templeton, who won an Oscar for her short Peter & The Wolf in 2008.
Script: Rosto Production: Studio Rosto Sales: Autour de Minuit
Animation feature profile
Heck of a Job Hisko Hulsing
Hisko Hulsing’s animated sequences for the Brett Morgen documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck have already helped to elevate the film to cult status, even before its May 2015 broadcast on HBO. The Dutch animator talks to Nick Cunningham. In some ways it all started with Last Hijack, the Tommy Pallota/Femke Wolking-directed doc about Somalian piracy, for which Hulsing created the dramatic painted backdrops. When reviewing the film Variety referenced a previous short made by the animator, Junkyard, an uncompromisingly bleak rights of passage tale of adolescence and seemingly inevitable descent into drug dependency. The film was in part autobiographical and it pulls no punches when presenting its tragic denouement. Brett Morgen read the review, watched the film and immediately contracted Hulsing for his Cobain doc. “Morgen thought that the American studios were too polished and sterile,” Hulsing points out. “When he saw Junkyard he saw a harsh
coming of age film made with the sensitivity he was looking for, and with a raw and unpolished realism.”
be really good. But I am very proud of the whole film and proud of what we did.”
Hulsing’s contribution to Heck is short, lasting no more than seven minutes or so, but the impression it leaves is indelible. The first sequence (narrated by a 20-year old Cobain, the tape culled from his personal effects) describes his adolescent desire to commit suicide, but only after losing his virginity. Both endeavours fail, the former as he lies on the wrong track as the train approaches, the latter presented with a visceral sense of dread and disgust. The second sequence gives image to the eponymous Montage of Heck sound recordings that Cobain made in his teens, pre-stardom. (Two later short sequences in the film were produced by a US animation studio in the style of Hulsing).
All the time, Morgen was nervous about the animated sequences. “He thought that these could make or break the film – he had worked with animators before on other films, whose work he wasn’t satisfied with,” says Hulsing. But the director’s fears were assuaged after test screenings which consistently showed approval ratings north of 90. “I know that he asked people not to comment on the animation as it wasn’t yet finished, but still a lot of people said that the animation was their favourite part. And also the family of Kurt Cobain were very satisfied with it, so Morgen became more relaxed in the last two months, and I had a lot more freedom to do what I wanted to do.”
The work was exhausting, and Hulsing maintains that he delivered more material in 4 months (7 days per week, 18 hours a day, directing a team of 18 animators) than he would usually manage in three years (the 18-minute Junkyard took six years to complete). “Some of the scenes were sent the day of deadline and I didn’t have time to check them properly,” Hulsing reveals. “It sounds bad, but it isn’t. The method that I use is very stable. I storyboard everything very carefully so I know that things will
At the time of writing, Hulsing is working on commercials back in the Netherlands. What does he feel may be the outcome of the work he produced on Heck? “This film has been seen by some many people. If you follow the twitter stream, literally every five seconds there is a new tweet about it. What I like about the American way is that your film reaches such a large audience. Montage of Heck is huge, and now it will be broadcast on HBO, so I suspect that I will be approached at some point by another US studio, and if the project interests me, then that will be cool.”
‘Morgen saw a raw and unpolished realism’
Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck Director: Brett Morgen Script: Brett Morgen Production: HBO Documentary Films (USA), Public Road Productions (USA) Sales: Cinetic Media
‘The majority of silent films were shown in colour…’
Still: Les tulipes (FR, 1907)
True Colours At the recent Colour Fantastic: Chromatic Worlds Of Silent Cinema conference at EYE, the world’s leading scholars of silent cinema came together to discuss and debate the impact of colour during the silent era. Geoffrey Macnab reports. The conference marked the 20th anniversary of a groundbreaking workshop event held at what was then the Nederlands Filmmuseum in 1995. Back then, academics and archivists hadn’t yet fully accepted the primary role that colour played in silent movies. Two decades on, the picture has changed completely. “We were really amazed at how many people from different disciplines are looking at colour in silent cinema,” Giovanna Fossati, Chief Curator at EYE, comments of the change in mindset. “Something which was pretty much a revelation for most academics and archivists - colour in silent film - is now one of the established themes for research.” The conference wasn’t an arid affair during which delegates presented papers looking at the history and science of film colouring. Subjects addressed included everything from fashion to popular culture at the turn of the last century, during the so-called silent era. British musician Stephen Horn was on hand to provide improved musical accompaniment for the screenings.
One of the programs explored “the visual power of smell” and the “taste” of colour. Academia may have embraced the new research but audiences still fail to acknowledge that silent movies were, more often than not, colour affairs. In the popular imagination, silent cinema is regarded as being a b/w medium until the introduction of “natural” colour systems like Technicolor and, later, Eastmancolor. “The majority of silent films were shown in colour,” Fossati declares. The film may have been shot in black and white but, by the time they were shown to paying audiences, they had been painstakingly tinted, toned, stenciled or hand-coloured. The EYE’s Chief Curator acknowledges that it will take some time to win over the public to the idea of coloured silent movies. Nonetheless, colour shorts are screened before features shown at EYE. Fossati herself is one of the authors of new book, Fantasia Of Color in Early Cinema, which has a foreword by a certain Martin Scorsese. With Scorsese’s support, the book will have a strong chance of reaching a readership beyond silent cinema specialists. The Raging Bull and Taxi Driver director was very enthusiastic about the project - and the authors were delighted to have his blessing. “We
thought that besides being a very well known name with a broader reach, the reason he (Scorsese) was the right person to write the foreword was that in his film Hugo he celebrates the silent pioneer Georges Méliès and addresses the kind of films we discuss in the book, There is a direct link to his own work.” In Hugo, Scorsese used digital technology to reconstruct colours used in Méliès’ films. Fossati and her colleagues at EYE are also using digital technology to restore original colours in silent movies. “The main point with restoring these films digitally is that the digital allows you to treat both the black and white image and the applied colour without compromising between them,” Fossati explains. “The digital technology really makes it possible to restore the colours as they appear on the original film.” As a result of the conference and the book, Fossati and her team have already been asked to put together a programme of early colour films to show at festivals and museums. The programme has been seen at the Zoom Arrière Fest in Toulouse and there are talks for further screenings in Bologna and New York (MOMA). “Early” film covers the period to the start of the First World War, a period that the world used to see only in monochrome. Now, thanks to Fossati and her colleagues, the colour is seeping back into it.
Keeping it Green Els Rientjes, the Dutch film industry’s new Sustainability Manager, talks to Melanie Goodfellow about her role. The Dutch film industry got its first ever sustainability manager at the beginning of this year in the shape of former Fu Works and IDTV creative producer Els Rientjes. The veteran film and TV producer knows better than anyone how hard it can be to adopt green practices on set. “If you really want to work sustainably you need to factor it into the production early on and that’s not always possible if you’re pulling the budget together right up to the last minute,” says Rientjes. In her new role, Rientjes researches and trials sustainable practices for the film industry as well as advises and educates Dutch producers on what they can do to make their productions more environmentally friendly. Every Dutch film project receiving a production grant from the Netherlands Film Fund, which created the role of sustainability manager, has access to her services. Her appointment replaces the Green Film Making Project, a two-year NFF-backed initiative run by Amsterdam-based sustainability specialist Strawberry Earth, which has moved on to another project but continues to support Rientjes. In preparation for the job, Rientjes spent several months investigating
the subject of sustainability and working out a game plan, working closely with Jo Voet, a sustainability expert at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs. Voet introduced Rientjes to a number of companies in other sectors who were more advanced in terms of sustainability, such as the Netherlands branch of Interface, a global carpet tile manufacturer that prides itself on its environmentally responsible approach. “I saw some amazing examples of people sharing knowledge, experimenting and innovating. It was completely energizing,” says Rientjes.
‘You need to factor sustainably into the production early’ Rientjes notes, however, that change cannot be effected immediately and that encouraging the film professionals to be equally enthusiastic about adopting sustainability practices will take time. “There’s a lot I want to do but it’s a step-by-step process,” she says. Initiatives in her first months in the job include research into more sustainable transportation methods, waste disposal and set lighting, which involves consultations with facility houses, lighting companies Philips and Rofianda, and post-production experts. Although the use of LED
lighting on set saves energy and money, many producers are reluctant to use them because the light is flatter than traditional tungsten and halogen lights. “We asked the lighting companies whether it would be possible to develop LED lights which work with the whole spectrum of light -because that is not the case at the moment,” says Rientjes. Rientjes is looking to involve the directors and producers making films with the support of the Kort! short film programme and 50-minute film funding strand, One Night Stand. As well as inviting them to one-on-one workshops covering all aspects of sustainable filmmaking, she also encourages the productions to experiment with the new technology on their shoots. “They’ll be shooting between now and the summer and I have some student filmmakers capturing their efforts. Not all the productions will be able to shoot using sustainable lights – due to artistic or logistical reasons – but a few of them are going to try and I am looking forward to showcasing their results.” Rientjes also underlines that she wants to help the Netherlands set an industry standard for environmentally-oriented filmmaking, and will be looking to share best practice with the film industries of other countries.
‘I don’t see why I should limit myself to one format…’
Bruno Felix and Femke Wolting
360° approach Bruno Felix, co-founder of the innovative, Emmy-award winning Submarine production studio, talks about his company’s work. These are busy times for Amsterdam/Los Angeles-based Submarine, the multi-platform production house founded by Bruno Felix and Femke Wolting in 2000. The interactive component of its Somali piracy documentary Last Hijack won an Emmy Award for best online production in April 2015. On the feature film front it is the main producer on Peter Greenaway’s Eisenstein in Guanajuato, which competed in Berlinale competition, as well as Eddy Terstall’s low budget Meet Me in Venice, about a Dutch woman who re-bonds with her long-absent Italian father during a musical journey on the Orient Express, due out in July. The company also has a slew of other film, TV and transmedia works on the boil including the intriguing non-fiction project Bistro In Vitro, about how current levels of meat consumption are unsustainable (the project feature launch of a lab-grown meat restaurant in Amsterdam in May 2015). “We have a huge amount of projects in the pipeline, I hardly know where to start,” says Felix, speaking by phone from the company’s
Amsterdam offices in the city’s funky Lab 111 complex, an independent film hub located in a former medical anatomy laboratory, which is also home to Fu Works and the Binger. The company works across all formats including traditional linear documentaries, feature films and animation as well as innovative digital story-telling productions, most of which are executed by the company’s subsidiary Submarine Channel. “I love television, I love film and I love games and I don’t see why I should limit myself to one format like a theatrically released film, especially when television is a way to reach a big audience,” says Felix about the company’s multi-platform approach. “I want to tell stories to make an impact. I’m not necessarily interested in the art for the art. If I can touch someone for a little moment with a film or a TV project or animated series that makes me happy.” Another key aspect of Submarine, says Felix, is its international focus. “Because I run the company with Femke, who is based in Los Angeles, we try to be truly international in everything that we do, both in terms of the content and style as well as the financing,” he explains. This can be seen in the financing of Wolting and Tommy Pallota’s award-winning project Last Hijack,
exploring the Somali piracy issue through eyes of a pirate and a hijacked captain. The project consisted of a hybrid film combining animation, documentary and dramatised live action as well as an online production called Last Hijack Interactive. The latter was one of the most elaborate co-productions for an interactive work to date, involving German production company Razor Films and broadcaster ZDF as well as Dutch broadcaster IKON. Co-producers on the film comprised Ireland’s Still Films, Belgium’s Savage Film as well as Razor Film, ZDF and IKON. The film screened at a number festivals as well as on TV screens across Europe and is also available on digital platforms such as i-Tunes and Netflix while the interactive component was showcased on the websites of Dutch newspaper NCR Handelsblad and Germany’s ZDF, and Submarine’s own SubmarineChannel.com After Cannes Felix will be in Annecy with a number of new projects including feature-length animation Vincent, based on Barbara Stok’s graphic novel about Vincent van Gogh. The €2.5m project is a co-production with Belgian Walking the Dog.
Dutch industry news
Short Cuts Kentridge to EYE EYE’s ambitious If I Ever Get to Heaven exhibition, featuring work by the celebrated South African artist, tapestrist, opera director and political agitator William Kentridge, opened its doors to the public April 25 to acclaim from both public and critics alike. Due to run until August 30, the core element within the exhibition is a 45-metre frieze of screens depicting an elaborate danse macabre of characters fleeing war, hunger and sickness, portrayed in silhouette and animation. The exhibition also includes a display of preparatory drawings and prints, two single screen works and Kentridge’s 2008 eight-screen installation based on Gogol’s The Nose. Before the launch, EYE’s Jaap Guldemond commented on the challenges of housing the elaborate exhibition in the nonuniformly shaped EYE building. “We are using the space not as a white cube but as a black cube, and of course in our case it’s not a cube at all but a very complex, multi-faceted, angled space which we are defining in three parts. So for the main part, the Kentridge installation flows across the angles of the walls, turning two huge corners. It looks quite amazing I think.”
HBF/CineMart films in Cannes
Still: Cemetery of Splendour
Rotterdam looms large at Cannes 2015 with the selection of nine films either supported by the Hubert Bals Fund or previously pitched at CineMart. The Lobster by Yorgos Lanthimos (CineMart 2013 & winner CineMart Award, see p14) plays in Competition while Un Certain Regard offers up Fourth Direction by Gurvinder Singh (HBF funding & CineMart Boost! project 2013, see p16), Cemetery of Splendour (Apichatpong Weerasethakul, HBF funding) and AN by Naomi Kawase which was pitched at CineMart 2014. In Quinzaine is El brazo de la serpiente by Ciro Guerra (HBF funding) and Deniz Gamze Ergüven’s Mustang (CineMart 2014). Meanwhile in Critics Week are Dégradé by Tarzan and Arab Abu
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William Kentridge If We Ever Get to Heaven 25 April – 30 August 2015
Nasser (HBF funding), La tierra y la sombra (Land and Shade) by César Augusto Acevedo (HBF funding & CineMart Boost project 2014, see p18) and The Wakhan Front by Clément Cogitore (CineMart 2013). Fund manager Iwana Chronis commented on the selection of the five HBF titles: “The Fund has a strong focus on supporting emerging talent, something that is also reflected in this year’s Cannes selection. Following these films since their very early start, it is wonderful to see these five films now being selected in Cannes and receiving the critical acclaim they deserve.”
Cannes 2015 sees the introduction of the Dutch film industry’s new advertising concept using the sharp-edge d language of social media - hashtags to tell and vary our message according to the needs of the film or the production. So check out #NL, #Cool and #Global!
New IFFR Chief
Dutch producer and Film Fund consultant Bero Beyer has been appointed new director of IFFR (Rotterdam). He takes up the post August 1 2015 and replaces outgoing director Rutger Wolfson. Beyer is producer of Jan-Willem van Ewijk’s wind-surfing odyssey Atlantic., which world-premiered at Toronto 2014 and is currently playing in Dutch cinemas.
Full Steam Ahead Hollywood-based Dutch director Roel Reiné spoke to See NL about the considerable domestic box-office success of his Dutch language epic Admiral. The film tells the story of the heroic seafarer Michiel de Ruyter who routed the English fleet during the Battle of the Medway. To date the film has grossed just shy of €6 million at Dutch theatres and has been seen by over 630,000 cinemagoers. “It will be become one of the most watched Dutch movies of all time. And that is unique as it is a very long movie. It is two and a half hours, so you can
only have one screening per evening. You don’t have a double screen, so it.is unique to get such high numbers,” he claimed. Reiné confirmed that he is developing two more Dutch-language historical films, also with Admiral producer Klaas de Jong. One he describes as “a kind of Braveheart movie, spectacular and bigger than Admiral”, set in the Middle Ages and detailing the Christian takeover of Northern Europe. The other is about the life of the first William of Orange.
“I am extremely glad to be able to contribute to the future of IFFR and to work with its excellent team,” he comments. “I am committed to leading [the festival] in supporting international and Dutch independent cinema as well as ensuring that in the rapidly changing cinematic landscape IFFR will continue to take its proactive role in exploring the challenges and opportunities that emerge.” Bero Beyer
Thekla Reuten Thekla Reuten came to international prominence after remarkable performances in Dominique Deruddere’s Everybody’s Famous! and Ben Sombogaart’s Twin Sisters, both of which were nominated for Best Foreign-language Oscar. Important roles followed in hit films such as In Bruges, Hotel Lux and The American alongside George Clooney, as well as in the multi-award winning political thriller Waffenstillstand. Currently she stars in Jan-Willem van Ewijk’s poetic and highly ambitious Dutch wind-surfing ‘road’ movie Atlantic. This year she will feature in the Irish fantasy film The Legend of Longwood and the Dutch movies Clean Hands and The Reunion.
“In future, I hope that we will focus on our writers, and invest to develop original stories and not lean too much on remakes and book adaptions, or on genres or ‘American’ style movies. I think we could enforce our industry most at script level and in taking more time for development.”
Photo: Laurens Gruwel
A vocal advocate of green filmmaking, Reuten also keeps a keen eye on the film industry in the Netherlands and the perception of Dutch cinema abroad. “There are some young and upcoming producers and directors that I am very enthusiastic about. There’s definitely a new generation starting out, already with an advanced knowledge of new media and techniques.