Page 1

John Appel opens IDFA with

Wrong Time Wrong Place

The Dutch documentary


Louis van Gasteren:

going strong at 90

Doc debutante Harkink

in IDFA Dutch competition The Film Fund and docs Issue #9  November 2012 IDFA issue

A publication by the Netherlands Film Fund and EYE Film Institute Netherlands

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View from the edge Colophon

2 View from the Edge: Charlotte Cook, Director of Programming at Hot Docs, talks Dutch documentary.

8-9 Contrasting Fortunes:

Wildcard winner Sarah Harkink is in IDFA Dutch competition with her debut doc Alexandra. She talks to See NL.

10-13 Dutch in the Doc:

The Dutch documentary is a strong and recognisable international brand. How do doc experts within and beyond Holland’s borders assess its future?

14-15 Cover Feature:

John Appel talks about his IDFA opener Wrong Time Wrong Place, about the 2011 massacre on the Norwegian island of Utoya.

16-17 Past Imperfect:

Deborah van Dam’s documentary following a Holocaust orphan back to the Netherlands takes an unexpected and sinister turn. The director explains all to See NL.

18-19 Stay or Leave:

Simonka de Jong explores guilt in the Himalayas in her IDFA documentary The Only Son.

20-21 A Century Minus Ten:

The doyen of Dutch documentary Louis van Gasteren may be turning 90, but he is as productive as ever. See NL profiles his outstanding career - so far.

22-23 Infographic

The international performance of Dutch docs in 2012.

24-25 The Origins of Nuclear:

Snake Dance investigates the history of the atomic bomb - and its legacy. Director Manu Riche talks to See NL.

26-27 Short Docs:

News from the Dutch film scene.

28-29 Doc Fundamentals:

Pieter Fleury will be taking over as doc consultant at the Netherlands Film Fund. Together with Fund director Doreen Boonekamp he discusses future documentary funding strategy.

30-31 Made in Holland: A listing of upcoming Dutch documentaries.

SEE NL is published four times per year by EYE Film Institute Netherlands and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.

film. Fortune in the Throat was a really lovely film about an elderly classical singer who lost her voice and her subsequent journey to rebuild her confidence and take to the stage once more. It was hugely popular within our programming team and was paired with a Canadian film at the festival. IDFA is the largest documentary film festival in the world, and as we are the largest in North America we think of IDFA as a sister festival, and are very supportive of it. We maintain as much communication with them as possible, and we send more programmers there than to any other festival. They are our natural partner in Europe and they encompass just about everything we are looking for in terms of quality films. We’re in the lucky position that our programme is so varied that we can programme from a very wide range of documentaries on offer.

Charlotte Cook This year’s Hot Docs featured three documentaries from the Netherlands, all of which we found at IDFA 2011. They were Klaas Bense’s One Fine Day, Meet the Fokkens by Rob Schröder & Gabrielle Provaas, and Fortune in the Throat by Christina Muller. All three are very different films, both in terms of subject, and their approach to their material.   This diversity indicates why the Dutch documentary sector is thriving. The Dutch funders and broadcasters support, and encourage, their filmmakers to go out into the world to find their stories. They really get behind their talent, and invest both trust and confidence in what they endeavour to do.    One Fine Day filled a slot for me perfectly. We were putting together a strand at this year’s festival that looked at the people behind political, and social, movements. The film looks at individuals who have, throughout history, taken one small significant step, which led towards much bigger change. It is a film that shows the power of small action, and is beautifully made. Meet the Fokkens played extremely well at the festival. It’s the story of two elderly, twin prostitutes in Amsterdam, and is so lovingly made. The audience fell in love with them, and the

Editors in chief: Claudia Landsberger (EYE), Jonathan Mees (Netherlands Film Fund) Executive editor: Nick Cunningham Contributors: ­Geoffrey Macnab, Melanie Goodfellow, Charlotte Cook 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 Film Institute Netherlands 2012 Contact Sandra den Hamer CEO EYE Film Institute Netherlands E sandradenhamer@eyefilm.nl Claudia Landsberger Head of EYE international EYE Film Institute Netherlands E claudialandsberger@eyefilm.nl EYE Film Institute Netherlands PO BOX 74782 1070 BT Amsterdam The Netherlands T +31 20 589 1400 W www.eyefilm.nl Doreen Boonekamp CEO Netherlands Film Fund E d.boonekamp@filmfonds.nl

We are in the equally luxurious position of being able to turn up and know we will find excellent, challenging and entertaining films. For us, the majority of our time is spent in the screening library, which is such an incredible resource for us. It provides an invaluable opportunity to see the documentaries on the horizon for the year ahead from all over the world, and we consistently find we are spoilt for choice.

Pieter Fleury Head of Documentary Netherlands Film Fund E P.Fleury@filmfonds.nl Ger Bouma Head of Intl. Co-productions Netherlands Film Fund E g.bouma@filmfonds.nl Jonathan Mees Head of Communications Netherlands Film Fund E j.mees@filmfonds.nl Netherlands Film Fund Pijnackerstraat 5 1072 JS Amsterdam The Netherlands T +31 20 570 7676 W www.filmfonds.nl

Cover still: Wrong Time, Wrong Place Director: John Appel
Script: John Appel
Production: Cobos Films Sales: Films Transit See pages 14-15


The Only Son Director: Simonka de Jong
Script: Simonka de Jong
Production: IDtv-Docs, Buddhist Broadcast Corporation


Nema Aviona za Zagreb Van Gasteren’s new film includes some footage he shot in the 1960s, when he was close friends with Timothy Leary and was experimenting with LSD. See pages 20-21

Alexandra “They were treating you like a criminal so you were not motivated to be anything more than that. I had something to prove therefore.” See pages 8-9 Alexandra Director: Sarah Harkink Script: Sarah Harkink Production: Hasse van Nunen,

Nema Aviona za Zagreb Director: Louis van Gasteren Script: Louis van Gasteren Production:

HKU Utrecht, Sarah Harkink

Spectrum Film



Snake Dance “It’s a really big theme. It’s about nuclear energy and the relationship between technical progress and our relationship with the earth,” says producer Suzanne van Voorst. See pages 24-25

The Baby “I came across Anneke’s story by chance,” recounts van Dam. “I was visiting a friend in hospital when an old woman came past waving a piece of paper and crying ‘I’ve found my baby, I’ve found my baby.” See pages 16-17 The Baby Director: Deborah van Dam Script: Deborah van Dam Production: Hell-o Films

Snake Dance Director: Manu Riche Script: Patrick Marnham Production: IDTV Docs



Director profile

Contrasting Fortunes Doc debutant Sarah Harkink is selected for Dutch Competition at IDFA with her 2011 graduation film Alexandra, which won her Wildcard funding, courtesy of the Netherlands Film Fund, to go out and make her next film. She talks to Nick Cunningham. For her graduation piece director Sarah Harkink returned to Alexandra, the juvenile prison of her teens, in order to assess the subsequent life trajectories of the friends that she made there. The story she tells is grim and her subsequent elevation to filmmaker status plays in stark contrast to the fate of her former friends. Marcela is still scarred by her past and has never learned to take care of herself. Karine left the Netherlands to cut off all contact with her former life, and still suffers from acute depression. Marina, Harkink’s best friend with whom she vowed never to lose contact, also suffered subsequently. “She went totally the other way to the way I did,” the director explains. “She was very anxious to party a lot and get everything out of life that she missed. I think she was almost three years in Alexandra, but it was difficult to stay in contact with her as she was working in the sex industry and I was trying pick up my life in a different career, but still I love her very much.” In her early teens Harkink had a difficult relationship with her family, especially her mother, and suffered from drug addiction. After absconding from a series of homes and correctional institutions she was sent to Alexandra as a final resort. “So they chose the strictest measure - prison. But I wasn’t a criminal. People forget that sometimes. I

just had a little bit of a trouble in my youth,” she stresses. “The level of education there was very low, where we had to take cookery and knitting classes, which I actually hated, and people there didn’t expect very much from you. They were really treating you like a criminal so you were not motivated to be anything more than that. I had something to prove therefore.”

film and telling stories,” she resumes. “During my four years as a student I was happy all the time and I didn’t think a lot about my previous life because it seemed so far away. I didn’t feel I was that girl in the prison. It felt like another life.” The process of revisiting her old life for the documentary has strengthened the bonds between her and her family, she claims. “Of course we still have our problems but we have learned how to communicate with each other, and not to be ashamed of anything. Especially with my mother.”

‘It felt like another life’ The contrast between jail and film school, as one can imagine, was considerable (Harkink also spent two years after prison in a private school attended by kids with very wealthy parents) but it was the former difficulties that she suffered, and the great story that she had to tell, which were her prime motivations to progress. She kept news of her past more or less to herself. “No, not many people at art school knew about my past, until my graduation. Then, I think they were proud and didn’t expect it from me and it was in a way a shock for them,” she says.

The Netherlands Film Fund Wildcards, awarded annually to three outstanding documentary film graduates, are valued at €40,000. Each winner is invited to go out into the world and make a documentary film about any subject that takes their fancy. Harkink was in Africa working on another documentary when she received news of her success by telephone. “I was always expecting the call, but I didn’t want to pick up the phone as I thought I wouldn’t win it anyway, so why bother,” she says. “But I was surprised. I couldn’t believe it and I still don’t know how I could be so lucky. Now I have a budget to make a new film. It is a great opportunity.”

Conversely, her new film school status was a surprise to many of her Alexandra contemporaries as well. “Some didn’t know that I went to art school and when they found out that I wanted to make a film about them I don’t know how they felt about that. I hear that some of the staff at the prison were angry with me because I made this film, and they said that I was a liar but…,” she trails off.

And her next project? “It will be a documentary about vampires. After Alexandra I wanted to do something light and funny. I am fascinated why half the female world are so attracted to vampires, with all the recent films and the books. Why do we crave these handsome bad-ass guys to suck our blood? In what way is it erotic? The film will be psychological in its approach, but mainly it will be fun.”

“But I was so relieved to be at film school and to mix with people who were equally interested in

Alexandra Director: Sarah Harkink Script: Sarah Harkink Production:

Sarah Harkink

Hasse van Nunen, HKU Utrecht, Sarah Harkink



Industry Analysis

Dutch in the Doc The way Jan Rofekamp puts it, documentary making is in the blood for the Dutch. They’re a resourceful, entrepreneurial people with a flair for languages who’ve always looked beyond their own national boundaries, he tells Geoffrey Macnab. “The Dutch, they have this ability to adapt very quickly,” Rofekamp confirms. “They are a small country of travellers. If they are going to go and shoot a film in the Sahara, they are not going to think twice about this - no problem!” “We are travellers, that’s true!” agrees Sara Höhner, Managing Director of distribution company Cinema Delicatessen. The Dutch, Rofekamp (the founder and CEO of Montrealbased doc sales company Films Transit) continues, are also sociable and pragmatic. It helps, too, that their financiers encourage them to travel. “One of the things which is interesting about Dutch docs is that, when you get funding, many countries have certain restrictions on the stories you can tell. If you get Swedish funding, you need to tell Swedish stories. In Canada, it is very strict. They (Canadian filmmakers) get money for Canadian stories or, if it’s an international story, there have to be Canadians playing a role,” Rofekamp notes. By complete contrast, he suggests, the Dutch have been allowed by their funders to take an international perspective - and to tell other people’s stories. Look at the yearly crop of Dutch docs and you will see an very broad range of subjects. The IDFA 2012 competition for Dutch documentary and the

special IDFA sidebar this year on 25 Years Highlights Of The Lowlands are both instructive. Films in the competition range from Ramon Gieling’s Blind Fortune (about blind lottery vendors in Spain) to John Appel’s Wrong Time, Wrong Place, a film on the “insignificance of life and the role of chance” that takes as its starting point the massacre on the Norwegian island of Utoya last summer. Suzanne Raes’ The Successor Of Kakiemon plays out in Japan. Meanwhile, among the “highlights” of Dutch doc output over the last quarter of a century being showcased at IDFA are Niek Koppen’s The Hunt (1997), about fox hunting in Britain, and Aliona van der Horst’s Boris Ryzhy (an intimate and very lyrical 2009 film about a doomed young Russian poet.)

that these films will struggle to secure international distribution. Dutch doc makers working abroad (and using English) may therefore simply be reacting to market forces. There are certain key territories around the world (notably the US, Canada, Australia and UK) that are “relatively closed” to subtitled films. “If you want to sell Dutch films to these territories and you only do Dutch stories, you’ve got a problem.” Buyers don’t necessarily care where films come from. TV channels have slots to fill. The questions they are likely to ask is ‘does it fit the programme strand’ and ‘do we like it?’ The question of its national origins is less pressing. Many films will be elaborate international coproductions anyway. Another side to Dutch curiosity about the world beyond their own borders is that documentary makers risk ignoring the key social and political stories in their own backyard. With the assassinations of Theo Van Gogh and Pim Fortuyn, this has been a convulsive era in Dutch political and social history. Yes, these upheavals have inspired films but not - some might argue - in the numbers that might have been expected. Within Dutch broadcasting, some believe the mood is becoming more insular. TV commissioning editors are seemingly more interested in Dutch subject matter than stories from abroad. “Television is looking much more into the Netherlands,” says Pieter Fleury, the Netherlands Film Fund’s Head of Documentary Film. 

‘They are a small country of travellers’ There is nothing inherently ‘Dutch’ about many of these projects. “Because of this relative freedom on rules and regulations, the Dutch make films that have the potential to sell worldwide,” Rofekamp states. He cites the example of John Appel’s 2004 feature doc The Last Victory, which sold very well. This was a film about the Palio, a brutal horse race around the centre of Siena. It didn’t seem like a Dutch project at all but its crew and director were all Dutch. Cinema Delicatessen releases around 10 Dutch feature docs every years and Höhner sees a lot more. She points out that many, in fact, have Dutch subjects - and

Another criticism is that for all their eagerness to travel and seek new experiences, Dutch doc makers can sometimes appear

Still: Blind Fortune by Ramon Gieling



risk averse. “I find there is little fantasy in their work. I believe we could use some fresh air,” comments Fleury. “It is exactly courage which I think is lacking a little bit in Dutch documentary in these years.” In terms of subject matter, this year’s IDFA selection doesn’t suggest too much reticence or cowardice. For example, Roy Dames’ The Sexpolice explores sex trafficking and female slavery in great depth. “That kind of courage is there, but I am talking about the courage of a filmmaker to present a subject in a vulnerable way,” Fleury muses. Directors, he suggests, are wary about risking failure or embarrassment. “I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s the result of a long process. Maybe society has gone in that way and we think we should play on the safe side not expose ourselves too much (and) don’t take too many risks. We have a lot of guilt issues in our society. If we make mistakes, everything is our fault.” What’s the solution to the malaise? “We should not criticise each other on a personal level so much. We should accept each other’s work and talk positively and believe in what we are. If we talk about the Netherlands, we only say that we are bad!” Fleury laughs at the irony that he himself is being critical but makes the more serious point that Dutch documentary makers have plenty to be proud about. Their work continues to be feted on the international festival circuit. However, as the Film Fund’s documentary supremo also points out, other countries excel at documentary too. Maybe it’s time for the Dutch to “do a little bit more” to re-establish their

pre-eminence in a field in which they have traditionally excelled.

will find their natural home on the small screen.

It’s always tempting to talk up the merits of an older generation at the expense of younger filmmakers. In the Netherlands, there are certainly directors who’ve been successful on the international festival circuit for a very long time: filmmakers like Appel, Heddy Honigmann, Peter Lataster and Petra LatasterCzisch and the still active 90 year old Louis van Gasteren. Rofekamp argues that there are also younger filmmakers coming through.

With budgets shrinking across the Dutch film sector as a whole, there isn’t much money to invest in marketing and promotion. Höhner’s argument is that the filmmakers themselves should step into the breach. “It is my concern and my passion to show documentaries on the big screen. We have problems now because there is an overload of films. There are a lot of fantastic art house films. There are even more distributors,” Höhner says of the increasingly crowded theatrical marketplace.

It helps that younger producers are picking up on new ways to finance, promote and distribute their wares in the digital and social networking era. “And on the production side, Holland is always in the ascendant and avant garde,” Fleury states. One point Rofekamp makes forcefully is that documentaries need to be marketed. He is sharply critical of broadcasters who don’t promote their docs. “I always say that if the broadcasters complain that their bosses say the films don’t rate, I say ‘you’d better spend serious money on promotion.’ It has been so many times proven that if you promote films really well, people watch them because people love them. If you don’t promote them, people don’t know about them!” This is a subject that Höhner also picks up on. The real challenge for Dutch documentary makers is making sure their films reach an audience. “That’s what all the filmmakers would like to do. They would like to show their films on the (cinema) screen,” she avers. However, she believes that only the best, “the pearls,” should be unveiled in cinemas. The others

example is Hetty Naaijkens’ Contract Pensions, the story of Dutch and mixed-blood Dutchmen from the former Netherlands East Indies. This won a Crystal Film award for attracting over 10,000 spectators, a huge turnout for a film from a first-time director better known for producing docs by her brother Leonard Retel Helmrich. The secret, Hohner explains, was identifying the audience long before the release of the film and then painstakingly targeting that audience. “You need to find an audience for your film. Documentaries don’t have stars,” the Cinema Delicatessen boss notes. “You really need to sell the film with the subject.”

‘Only the pearls should be unveiled in cinemas’

included both admittance to the film and dinner afterwards.) If you have an eco-doc, you can organise debates and seminars. However, as she acknowledges, this is hard work. “You really have to fight!” With the support of the Film Fund and The Binger Institute, Höhner is now taking the message to the filmmakers that they’ve got to help sell their own docs. “For me, it is shocking that they don’t have any idea who would like to see their film or what is its best length. My suggestion is as a producer and director, you have to inform yourself about distribution and the audience!”

On Contract Pensions, the challenge was to reach the immi­­grant Indonesian population within the Netherlands. “I organised an event in Pathé Tuschinski,”she recalls. “It was amazing, amazing! We had an absolutely full house for this film.”

Of course, on the international festival circuit Dutch docs are very successful. “The films by Leonard Retel Helmrich for example have gone to many, if not most, leading international documentary festivals,” comments Claudia Landsberger, Head of EYE International. “Dutch docs are a must-see for many festival programmers and are rarely ignored in the selection process.”

Höhner points out that Dutch documentary makers can’t simply expect their films to find audiences. Even when they’re shooting, she argues, they should be thinking about what tactics they can use to persuade cinemas to book them and spectators to pay to watch them. “Even in your research, you need to find out who is your audience and where can I find it. We need to be creative.”

In addition, a number of key Dutch documentary filmmakers, such as John Appel and Heddy Honingmann, are invited to address many masterclasses around the world, Landsberger points out. Eye International is very often a supporting partner in this.

Sometimes, this can be very easy. If you have a doc like L’Amour Des Moules, you can aim at the audience’s stomach and play on spectators love of mussels. (Cinema Delicatessen was offering a ticket price of €25 that

Cinema Delicatessen has enjoyed several eye-catching successes with Dutch docs. One striking

Still: The Successor Of Kakiemon by Suzanne Raes



Film Profile

The Cosmic Lottery No-one could have predicted the massacre on the small Norwegian island in July 2011. For reasons that still remain murky, a right wing vigilante bombed government buildings in Oslo and then headed off to the idyllic island of Utoya to massacre a further 69 people. Geoffrey Macnab talks to director John Appel about his documentary Wrong Time Wrong Place, that will open IDFA 2012.   John Appel’s remarkable new documentary isn’t about this killer, who isn’t even named. We see fleeting courtroom footage of him and hear chilling stories from a teenager who crossed over to the island with him when he was masquerading as a policeman and preparing to commit mass murder. “It’s not about  him,” the director states. “He’s like the devil, meaning the evil face…it’s not a political film. It’s not about the ideas behind the killings.”   Instead, Appel ponders the part that fate plays in all our lives. In this case, good luck, bad luck and coincidence determined who lived and who died. How do you make sense of what seems to be a giant cosmic lottery?   The film poses the nagging questions that survivors and relatives can’t help but ask obsessively in the wake of any tragedy – what would have happened if he had left home a little earlier that day or if she had gone in a different direction. Could their deaths have been avoided?   We hear the heart-rending story of Tamta, the girl from Georgia who was eventually faced with a truly horrific dilemma. She had never been taught to swim. The

last moments of her life were spent on the shore of Utoya with the water in front of her and the killer behind her. Back home in Georgia, her parents are racked with guilt that they never gave her swimming lessons. “Even when the police came, you could not believe that you had survived,” says Ritah, the Ugandan girl. She was newly pregnant at the time of the massacre. She took the decision to hide in a toilet. Had she not done so, she certainly would have been killed.   Director Appel was already mulling over a film about fate and coincidence before the massacre occurred. “I knew I had to wait for some tragic event to happen, like a plane crash or some very big accident. I don’t know. Then this happened. I was sitting at home and I turned on the TV,” he recalls of how he learned about the tragic events in Norway. At first, he thought Utoya was “too big a drama” for his film about coincidence. After a few weeks, however, he travelled to Norway. He quickly found the kind of stories he was looking for.   The filmmaker was wary about setting foot on the island. The locals were reluctant to take him there too. “They (the Norwegians) told me I could go freely to Utoya…only nobody would bring me.” However, in May of this year – 10 months after the killings – he arrived there.   The island was a tranquil and beautiful place. To Appel’s slight surprise, there were not any obvious scars from the massacre. “Although I knew it happened, it didn’t feel like that. I couldn’t find any traces of what happened. We filmed on a beautiful day.”

Some of the survivors themselves had been keen to go back, both as a means of catharsis and as part of their search for tranquility. Appel includes some truly harrowing footage of the massacre in process, shot from the mainland by bewildered onlookers. This footage shows guns going off, distant shots of people fleeing across the forests and beaches and of the heads of escaping swimmers bobbing in the water.

Appel ponders the part that fate plays in all our lives “This is amateur material, shot by people who just discovered what happened. Behind the camera, they comment on what they see,” the director notes. He left their bewildered commentary in the film. “For me it was very strong. The people who shot it didn’t know what would happen. They were just as surprised by everybody as what it could mean.”   Yes, the film does touch on ‘survivor’s guilt’ but Appel points out this is a far more complex subject than the media portrays. One of the surprising aspects about the film is just how resilient the young survivors seem. They talk frankly and even with wry humour of what happened on that terrible day. This is at once a testament to the strength of their characters and (one can’t help thinking) their way of trying to cope with trauma.    In its exploration of the links between free will and fate, the new documentary has some overlaps with Appel’s previous

film The Player (2009), his examination of his father’s mania for gambling. The director relishes the part luck and coincidence play in his own life. “I have many, many accidents with cars!” he observes. “I am even a little bit pleased when it happens. I know that something will happen that I didn’t think about before. People will help me. From a little meeting will arise another meeting. That is how it always happens.”   No, he’s not making a glib comparison between his driving mishaps and what happened on the Norwegian island on that tragic day. He is just emphasising the part that fate (however defined) plays in all our lives.

Wrong Time, Wrong Place Director: John Appel
Script: John Appel
Production: Cobos Films Sales: Films Transit


John Appel


Film profile

Past Imperfect Deborah van Dam’s The Baby, which follows Holocaust orphan Anneke Thompson as she pieces together her lost childhood, took an unexpected turn during filming, one that nobody had foreseen. Melanie Goodfellow spoke to the director about her film, selected for Dutch Competition at IDFA 2012. “Anneke Thompson was hidden from the Nazis in the Netherlands, and now she is going back to honor those who saved her life”, reads an article on the American Jewish World website dated May 8, 2011. A photo shows Anneke, a smiling lady in her 70s with bobbed grey hair, standing beside Dutch film-maker Deborah van Dam.   The director was about to start filming The Baby, charting Holocaust orphan Anneke’s return after 65 years to the Dutch town of Voorburg where she hid during the Second World War. (After the war, Anneke departed the Netherlands for New York to live with her aunt and uncle.)  Anneke was going back to Holland to meet two people linked to her survival who had contacted her out of the blue a few years previously: Cora, a resistance member now in her 90s who had smuggled Anneke as baby to safety, from Amsterdam to the Hague, and Fred Blacquiere, the son of the couple who had fostered her during the war.   Blacquiere had asked Anneke to petition for his late parents and Cora to be given the Righteous Among the Nations decoration of the Israeli holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, for people who risked their lives to save Jews.   “I came across Anneke’s story by chance,” recounts van Dam. “I

was visiting a friend in hospital when an old woman came past waving a piece of paper and crying ‘I’ve found my baby, I’ve found my baby.’ It was Cora. She started telling me her story of how in 1942 she had acted as a courier and taken a Jewish baby from her parents and brought her into hiding. She told the story so poetically and with so much emotion, it touched me. I thought I had to record the story for future generations.” After an initial interview with Cora in 2007, van Dam decided to get in contact with Anneke to get her side of the story and spent two years communicating with Anneke via email to “build a bond”, flying to New York to meet her in person in May 2011, ahead of starting the shoot.  

unexpected direction. During her visit, Anneke started to doubt the picture of a happy childhood in the care of doting foster parents, as painted by Blacquiere. “The trip raised a lot of questions in Anneke’s mind and a sense uneasiness … there were things, flashbacks, she could not understand,” says van Dam. Anneke gave van Dam permission to access her file in the North Holland Archive, housing the records of thousands of children who were put into foster care or orphanages during the war. “What we found was a shock,” says the director. Anneke’s dossier revealed that she had to be taken “urgently’ out of the foster home and placed in an orphanage. A story of abuse and financial embezzlement started to emerge. Blacquiere’s vision of his parents came tumbling down – and van Dam’s film took on a whole new complexion.   “It was awful. We had built a bond with Anneke but also with her ‘war brother’ Fred, but we couldn’t ignore what we had found. We had no choice but to tell what we’d discovered,” says van Dam. “The finding gave the whole story more depth and historic meaning.”    Van Dam handed over the dossiers to Blacquiere who agreed to continue with the documentary and be interviewed on camera a few days later. “It’s very tough for him but we’ve tried to be very respectful. We haven’t presented his parents as bad people but rather as this being something that happened during the war,” says van Dam. “War stories with big impacts for individuals need to keep being told. It’s important to know history, for the lessons it can teach us for the future.”

The past was a taboo subject “In the beginning I saw it as a film about identity. She said she had no story to tell. The past had always been a taboo subject for Anneke. She had always been told by her aunt and uncle to look to the future and not to think about the past – and not to try to take advantage of, or benefit from, her past,”  says van Dam, who has explored how childhood experiences and identity are tied up together in previous films such as Liesbeth List: Embrace Me. “It fascinated me that two strangers can tell you stories of a childhood you’ve never been able to talk about and know very little about.”   Developments during Anneke’s trip to the Netherlands in the summer of 2011, however, sent the film in a completely

Deborah van Dam

The Baby Director: Deborah van Dam Script: Deborah van Dam Production: Hell-o Films



Film Profile

Stay or Leave “All the films I have made are really about family relation­ ships,’ reflects Dutch director Simonka de Jong tells Nick Cunningham. Her film The Only Son, about a young man wrestling with guilt over the parents he has left behind in Himalayan Nepal, plays in Dutch Competition at IDFA 2012. “That’s where my interest lies,” she continues. “But what is so interesting about this family is that all the differences between the siblings are so much more intensified and more extreme than in normal family relationships.” Which is something of an understatement given that her subjects, the six children of an elderly couple that lives in the Himalayan village of Karang, are dispersed across many continents. Of the five daughters, one lives in the Netherlands with foster parents, one is married and lives in the US, the two youngest live in an orphanage in Kathmandu, while a fifth lives in a poor, neighbouring village. But the focus of de Jong’s film is the boy Pema, in his late teens, who faces the dilemma of whether to spread his wings and embrace the world in all its modernity, or to have those wings clipped within an arranged marriage and a commitment to caring for his parents into old age. It is a dilemma that the boy feels keenly, with large measures of both guilt and resentfulness disabling his decision making powers. “That was the appeal of the story because of its universal aspect,” says de Jong. “Pema’s is a personal and unique story but one that we can all recognise. Something of the battle you have with your own parents for

example, and how everybody has to live one’s own life and make one’s own choices.”

de Jong explains. “It was the rainy season and it rained for days and days, and we had to walk 10-12 hours every day across these incredibly high passes. I wanted to film at the top of the passes but we were all completely exhausted and ill. The sound man lost 18 kilos because of illness and I had altitude sickness. I had severe headaches and was sick and felt terrible for days. It was very challenging as there was no electricity there so we had to bring generators and mules. It was really like an expedition.”

The choice that Pema is forced to make is indeed a profoundly difficult one. Karang, found in the Nepalese region of Dolpo, is as remote, both geographically and culturally, as one can imagine, and can only be reached from Kathmandu after two flights and a ten-day hike over peaks that reach to more than 5000 metres. “In Dolpo they have never heard of computers and there is one phone in the next village but it is hardly used, and it is so incredibly isolated which is very difficult for Pema who cannot know if his parents are well or not. If his father died Pema wouldn’t know for months after. They don’t know about western culture. It’s a completely different world. A real struggle for survival. And for Pema it is difficult to understand that his parents really do want to stay there, in this completely isolated community,” stresses the director.

‘Pema’s is a personal and unique story’ But it was a burden shared, and de Jong was subsequently allowed to operate freely in gathering the footage for her film. “The only moment when anybody was shy of the camera was when we encountered Pema’s mother (in the village), when she hides her face, but this was the first time and only time that I felt the camera may be in some small way obtrusive,” the director observes.

The film offers stunning shots of the Himalayas and the sublime stepped villages in which the natives live. The landscape was a character in itself, de Jong explains, beautiful but tough, and very hard to survive in. “We could have made a wholly different film with the footage that we shot but I decided to be sparing in its use. It’s not a film about beautiful landscapes - the dramatic story was much more important to me.”

“But soon after, they were all extremely open. Even the parents. In Kathmandu there is a scene when we had a discussion about his marriage, when he was in the children’s home, and his parents didn’t mind at all that I was there with a camera, even though it was a very personal and tough conver­sation. They were actually more worried that a neighbour may have overheard than the idea that the film may be shown widely in the western world. They don’t care about that at all. Their real lives do not include Europe and the west.”

Following the protagonists on their Himalayan odyssey to determine Pema’s future took its toll on the director and her crew, as well as on the film’s budget permits for the crew cost $50 per person per day. “The trek to reach the village was so much more difficult than we had expected,”

The Only Son Director: Simonka de Jong
Script: Simonka de Jong
Production: IDtv-Docs, Buddhist Broadcast Corporation


Simonka de Jong


Director profile

At the age of 89 (and turning 90 on 20th November), Louis van Gasteren is the grand old man of Dutch documentary. He hasn’t slowed down or mellowed with age. To mark his 90th birthday, van Gasteren will present a new film Nema Aviona za Zagreb at the Eye Institute in Amsterdam. In addition there will be an exhibition of his paintings and sculptures, as well as a retrospective. Geoffrey Macnab reports. A key figure in convincing Louis van Gasteren to enter the movie business 60 years ago was Alberto Cavalcanti, the Brazilian-born surrealist, documentary maker and Ealing Studios alumnus. “He played a role in my life. He was in Amsterdam. We met. I was working at the time at a newsreel in the sound department,” van Gasteren recalls of his illustrious mentor. The young van Gasteren came from an artistic family. His mother, Elise Menagé Challa, was a concert singer. His father (also Louis van Gasteren) was a famous actor. Not that it was an especially happy childhood. “I had a terrible youth, no youth at all,” van Gasteren laments. “When I was 10 years old, I said to my father and mother ‘I won’t call you any more papa and mama. I will call you by your first names.’” The veteran director tells heartrending stories about how his parents were always away on tours. The other kids would receive love and attention (“a cup of tea” and “a slice of cake” when they came home from school) but he was left to his own devices.  One of van Gasteren’s first notable efforts as a producer with his outfit Spectrum Films was

Brown Gold (1952), a documen­ tary on cocoa and chocolate, commissioned by the Van Houten company and partly shot in Ghana. “I didn’t want to make films to order for companies because at that stage I already considered myself an artist,” he recalls. However, the documentary turned out as well as could have been expected.

The film turned out well. It was followed many years later by the Golden Calf winning The Price Of Survival (2003), a sequel of sorts which looked at the guilt and trauma experienced by the wife and three children of a concentration camp survivor. Look through the director’s immense filmography and what leaps out is the sheer range of subjects he has tackled in his docs. There are Second World War themed films, docs about hydraulic engineers, films about water management, reportage from the Biafaran war in the late 1960s, docs about mercenaries, and profiles of artists and philosophers. Among the director’s best known films internationally is Beyond Words (1997), about the celebrated Indian mystic Meher Baba. He met Baba in India in the late 1960s and describes him as “ego-less.” Baba and the Dutch filmmaker, a self-proclaimed atheist, struck up an unlikely rapport and the mystic ended up by giving van Gasteren a red turban. (In the film, made 30 years after the meeting, van Gasteren puts this turban on.)

His bibliography shows the sheer range of subjects he has tackled Like his mother, van Gasteren was a communist as a young man. His 1953 film Railplan 68, about labourers working for the local authority on the tramway in Amsterdam, became an unlikely hit in Soviet Russia. He was also drawn to counter-culture. His new film Nema Aviona za Zagreb was shot from 1964 to 1969, when he was close friends with Timothy Leary and was experimenting with LSD. The footage was digitised in 2010 and finally edited this year, for which the director received funding from the Netherlands Film Fund.

He has just started a new project, H2O. However, he and his partner Joke may take a brief break after his 90th birthday festivities. “We have not had any holidays for 10 years or so,” he says. One plan is to go to Milwaukee and Vancouver to say goodbye to old friends there. Van Gasteren moves with the times. These days, for example, he edits digitally. However, in spite of his immensely lengthy and distinguished career, the job of making documentaries hasn’t become any easier. He produces his own movies. Money still isn’t easy to come by. “It’s a hard time,” he laments. “Next to that, for documentary makers, there are no screens anymore.” 

Louis van Gasteren

What’s his advice for younger documentary makers? “Choose another profession!” he jokes.

The director isn’t optimistic about the course Dutch politics has now taken. He is no longer a communist (although he remains an anti-fascist and is as fiercely opposed to injustice as ever.) One of his old friends was the visionary politician Sicco Mansholt (1908-1995), a former President of the EU Commission about whom he once made a film portrait. He doesn’t believe that today’s politicians have the same integrity or competence as Mansholt.

This isn’t the first of his documentaries to have dealt with LSD. His 1969 doc Now Do You Get It Why I Am Crying chronicled a therapeutic LSD session with a concentration camp survivor. “I was there with a crew of 20 men. Very discretely, we shot eight hours...we walked almost in our bare feet, so as not to make any sound.” Van Gasteren himself continues to believe in the therapeutic benefits of LSD and argues that it should be taken “for the sake of research, not for kicks.”

Whatever his misgivings about the state of Dutch society, van Gasteren remains as busy as ever.

Nema Aviona za Zagreb Director: Louis van Gasteren Script: Louis van Gasteren Production: Spectrum Film



Photo: P. Boersma

A Century Minus 10


Quality export Long and short Dutch documentaries, selected and screened at international festivals and exhibitions, Jan-Oct 2012.


Numbers of exhibitions and screenings

53 North America

17 Asia



Latin America


Most frequently screened Dutch docs abroad 24x

9x 7x 6x 5x 5x 5x 5x 5x

I am a girl, director Susan Koenen Meet the Fokkens, directors Gabriëlle Provaas & Rob Schröder Through Ellen’s Ears, director Saskia Gubbels Wistful Wildernes, director Digna Sinke 5 Broken Cameras, directors Emad Burnat & Guy David Position Among the Stars, director Leonard Retel Helmrich Oblivion, director Heddy Honigmann And The Sea Was No More, director Bert Haanstrax The Lost Country, director Jos De Putter



Sold to:

Screenings in Europe

• Inside Out by Anton Corbijn: to Australia and Hong Kong by Hanway, May 2012 • Beer is cheaper than therapy by Simone de Vries to Sweden and Israel, March 2012 • I am a woman now by Michel van Erp to Belgium (VRT), Greece (ERT), Israël (Yes) and the Canadian Knowledge Network, March 2012 • Meet the Fokkens by Rob Schröder & Gabriëlle Provaas: Kino Lorber takes US rights. In August in US cinemas • Wavumba by Jeroen van Velzen has sales agent EastWest Film distribution, after winning at Tribeca Film festival 2012

Turkey Spain Germany Czech Republic France Norway Kosovo Poland Portugal Croatia Iceland

United Kingdom Belgium Bosnia and Herzegovina Serbia Sweden Finland Greece Italy Romania Denmark Switzerland

Source: EYE International 2012.



Feature profile

The Origins of Nuclear Belgian director Manu Riche and British writer Patrick Marnham’s complex documentary essay Snake Dance examines the genesis of the atomic bomb and the terrible legacy it left in its wake. Melanie Goodfellow reports. Manu Riche’s contemplative work takes the spectator on a journey from the contemporary hellhole, the cassiterite mines of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which also provided the uranium for the bomb, to the empty deserts of New Mexico where the weapon of mass destruction was invented, and onto the car-strewn flood plains in the shadow of Fukushima nuclear plant of tsunami-struck Japan.   The picture, which involves Dutch IDTV Docs as a minority coproducer with the backing of the Netherlands Film Fund, will screen in the Paradocs section of the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam this November.   “It’s a complex film with a lot of interconnecting and juxtaposed ideas… It took five years to make overall. We spent two years developing it - and one year shooting,” says Riche.   Around the central premise, Riche and Marnham weave in the story of Aby Warburg, a German art historian and anthropologist who went to Los Alamos in New Mexico in 1895 to study how the Pueblo Indians managed to survive in such harsh, waterless conditions.   While there, he learnt about the Snake Dance - in which the participants dice with death, dancing with poisonous rattlesnakes as part of ritual to ensure rain.

Manu Riche

Some 50 years later, Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb and a keen horse-rider who owned a ranch in the area, would gather the world’s top physicists in Los Alamos for the Manhattan Project. “It was a chance connection,” says Riche. “Warburg alludes to how the Indians, who were very connected to their natural environment, manage their fears through the dance. Some 50 years on, modern man develops another response to fear in Los Alamos, the atomic bomb.”

It is the second collaboration between Riche and Marnham, who first started working together in 2003 when the director made a 52-minute documentary about legendary French crime writer Georges Simenon, based loosely on the writer’s biography The Man Who Wasn’t Maigret.   During the Snake Dance shoot, not everything went as planned. A hoped-for interview with Oppenheimer’s son Peter fails to come-off. Marnham’s unsuccessful attempts at phone contact, firstly from a desolate, windy New Mexico crossroads and then a shabby motel room desk, are incorporated into the film.

‘A complex film with a lot of interconnecting and juxtaposed ideas’

The destruction wreaked by the Japan tsunami in March 2011 was also an unexpected development. “I’d been location-scouting in Japan just two weeks before the tsunami struck,” says Riche. The scenes of destroyed cars and prefab housing built for evacuated residents of the zone around the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant make for a powerful footnote to the essay. An elderly doctor who witnessed both the aftermath of the Nagasaki bomb and the tsunami tries to talk about both events but words fail him. Dutch involvement in the film came through veteran producer Suzanne van Voorst, director of creative documentaries at IDTV Docs.   “What I liked about the film is that it’s a really big theme. It’s about nuclear energy and the relationship between technical progress and our relationship with the earth,” says van Voorst. “It’s contemplative but there is also an angry undercurrent over

The film features lingering panoramic shots of the landscapes in the Congo, New Mexico and Japan, overlaid with a poetic monologue, written and narrated by Marnham. “I wanted to make a film with both a cinematic point of view... and I wanted the narration to be very literary with a form and sensibility that went beyond a straight commentary,” says Riche. “The voiceover is more of an interior monologue than an open narration. One journalist has likened the texts to those of Chris Marker... which is flattering although we didn’t take particular inspiration from his work. It was a very complicated process. We ended up writing 15 versions of the text. Each time Patrick re-wrote something we would change the image so that there was an exchange between the images and the text.”

Snake Dance Director: Manu Riche Script: Patrick Marnham Production: IDTV Docs



the way in which we are destroying the earth.” It will be a busy IDFA for van Voorst, who also produced Heddy Honigmann’s Metal and Melancholy, which is playing in the 25 Years Highlights of the Lowlands sidebar, put together to mark the festival’s silver anniversary, as well as The Only Son, a contender in the Dutch Documentary competition.   The Snake Dance screening in the Paradocs section of IDFA – devoted to works playing with the documentary genre – will be preceded by a live reading of an abridged version of Warburg’s 1923 lecture The Snake Ritual.   “We’ve done this before for the premiere in Brussels and also in Berlin. We recreate his lecture, projecting photos he would have used onto the screen behind. It creates an interesting tension and sets the scene for the film,” says Riche. 

Dutch Industry News

Short Cuts

3rd time golden

At September’s Netherlands Film Festival director Peter Delpeut picked up his third Golden Calf, for his experimental short Immer Fernweh. The film is about a woman who turns to painting after she turns sixty. “After a Special Jury Prize, Best Fiction Feature, now Best Short Documentary - you might say the circle is round,” he commented. “People who see the film on the big screen are mostly enthusiastic, I experienced that again in Utrecht,” he added. “The minimalistic approach seems to need the concentration of a black box cinema. The jury screened the film in these circumstances and they told me their decision was unanimous without discussion. “It made me wonder why festivals or galleries are so reluctant to show the film. Okay, it has a length of 40 minutes… and my subject might be called obscure, but on the level of aesthetics and storytelling the film is rather special. My theory is that programmers watch films from DVD on their TV set. Immer Fernweh is too subtle to survive the small screen. The jury saw it on a big screen in full concentration and gave in.”

First IDFA Congress

Matthew’s Prizes

The congress will also determine how a similar approach can be applied to other film cultures where global thinking and co-production are now key to survival.

In the film Schmidt follows his friend Matthew who, due to his autistic disorder, desperately tries to create order in the chaos around him. Explosive confrontations with the outside world alternate with stylised observations and personal confessions.

To mark its 25th anniversary, IDFA will convene a major congress Thursday November 22 to offer Dutch and international film professionals the opportunity to visualise the future of Dutch docs and to optimise for their ongoing future success in the international marketplace.

The conference will consist of five short inspirational keynote speeches, interlocking panels, feedback, clips and many surprise elements, and will cover such topics as Why Documentaries Matter, a session on Marketing and Branding, a comparative study of the successful Danish business model and a reverse-angle view from top Democratic Republic of Congo producer, Djo Tunda Wa Munga. Speakers will include BBC Storyville’s Nick Fraser and Karolina Lidin of the Nordic Film and Television Fund. There will also be a special appearance by renowned director Tom Tykwer, who will tell us how to create better stories. The day will conclude with the presentation of the new Mediafonds Kids & Docs Award. The first IDFA Congress is supported by the Dutch Cultural Media Fund, the Netherlands Film Fund, EYE International, VEVAM , AVRO and NCRV (Television).


Since winning the Long Documentary Golden Calf at the 2012 Netherlands Film Festival, Marc Schmidt’s Matthew’s Laws has gone on to win the Merit Prize for Feature-Length Documentary at the Taiwan International Documentary Festival.

Little by little the film unravels Matthew’s complex way of thinking and shows the catastrophic consequences it eventually has for him. Matthew’s Laws is, so far, Schmidt’s most personal film. Schmidt works as an independent director and location sound mixer of documentary films. After studying film theory (Utrecht University) and media arts (Tilburg Art Academy), he worked as a sound engineer and video editor on a variety of film projects before directing a number of short fiction films. Matthew’s Laws is produced by Simone van den Broek and Ingeborg Jansen for Industrious Empire & Basaltfilm in co-operation with NCRV. International sales are handled by AUTLOOK Filmsales GmbH.

China meets holland

Netherlands Film Fund documentary chief Pieter Fleury told See NL that the meeting between Fund and industry toppers and their counterparts from the Chinese film industry during IDFA 2012 is designed to determine the level of potential co-operation between the two countries. “The Film Fund and IDFA are seeking to provide a bridge between the Netherlands and China in the broadest definition, using the platform of the festival, and we are welcoming this delegation to commence a dialogue on all aspects of documentary film, as well as feature films,” he confirmed. IDFA’s Adriek van Nieuwenhuizen added: “IDFA has welcomed Chinese filmmakers, some of them supported by the IDFA Fund, for many years. Over the past few years we have also welcomed representatives from television stations and festivals. I am very pleased that this visit to the festival and its markets in 2012 is the next step towards future collaboration between China and the international documentary community.” Two IDFA panels are scheduled with Chinese documentary professionals 21 November. The morning session will focus on the Chinese documentary landscape - the role of CCTV and regional channels, the work of Independent filmmakers and collaboration with foreign broadcasters and the possibilities of co-production in the (near) future - while the afternoon panel will explore the various distribution platforms and outlets available in China.

Stedelijk and paradocs

In 2012 IDFA formed a co-operation with Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum, the first fruits of which will be evident this year in the festival’s experimental programme Paradocs. Two themed clusters of video art will be exhibited, made up of artworks purchased or acquired by the Stedelijk Museum over the past eight years, including work by Erik van Lieshout and Frances Stark. During the Stedelijk Museum’s recent renovation, the institution presented a range of programs and exhibitions throughout the city of Amsterdam. Stedelijk@IDFA is a continuation of this practice, with the aim of allowing audiences an opportunity to get to know the museum’s collection in locations other than its own building. On this occasion, the video and film works will not be screened in the museum but in cinemas. These works were originally meant as installations and screening these films in a cinema raises questions about the relationship between cinema and museum as well as between installation and screening. Stedelijk Museum curator Bart Rutten will therefore give an introduction to the works and conduct Q&As with the attending artists during which these questions will be aired and discussed.


Ximon Says

Since its launch in April 2011 the Ximon VOD platform, an initiative of the Film Producers Netherlands (FPN), the EYE Film Institute Netherlands and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, can now offer more than 2600 Dutch and int’l titles (including many arthouse and documentary) to local audiences. September 2012 saw Ximon availability on iPad. So far 15,000 people have downloaded the app. The most popular docs last month were Anton Corbijn Inside Out, by Klaartje Quirijns, David Tucker’s My Thai Bride and Encounters at the End of the World by Werner Herzog. Before the end of November Ximon will be available on Samsung Smart TV and as of January other connected TV deals will be announced.  “The documentary section is a very important part of our content. This gives us the chance to make available to the public documentaries that have never been shown in the Netherlands, via video on demand through Ximon,” commented platform marketing chief Esther Frijns. “We want our viewers to discover Dutch and foreign cultures and to take a glance at the past, the present and the future.”

Industry Analysis

Doc Fundamentals “Dutch docs conquer the world,” is the bold title of the IDFA Congress this year, Geoffrey Macnab writes, and one key goal of the conference is to work out how Dutch docs can grab the world’s attention. This is a question that public funders have already been addressing. With the shake up at the Netherlands Film Fund from January 2013, the way in which documentary is supported will certainly change. Pieter Fleury, the recently appointed Head of Documentary at the Fund, will stay at the helm but from 2013 he will have a different job description - he will be known as ‘film consultant’ – and a new role. The rationale behind the new structure is both to react to budget cuts (of around 30%) and to create a more dynamic commissioning system. Instead of using committees, the Fund will rely far more heavily on consultants such as Fleury, who are appointed for 3 years with an option for limited extension and who will assess all the film plans submitted. At present, around €2.8 million are set aside for all documentary activity at the Fund. In the new year this will reduce to €2.0 million and will be split between Screen NL (to which experienced doc makers can apply) and New Screen NL (to which newcomers can apply). The Film Fund has done extensive research into public funding models in places elsewhere in Europe. In particular, they’ve looked at the example of the Scandinavians. Maximum that the Fund will put into feature docs will be €40.000 per film for newcomers and €160.000 per film (depending on the length) for experienced doc makers.

At present, the Fund invests in around 26 doc projects per year. The aim is to keep supporting approximately the same number but with 16 docs per year within Screen NL set-up and roughly 10 lower budget productions within New Screen NL.

and financial analyst. By the same token, if a project is presented in an under-developed form, the Fund will almost certainly turn it down or ask it to be refined. Heartened by the support he receives from Boonekamp, Fleury is determined to galvanise the Dutch doc world. Yes, money is tight with the cuts in public funding matched by similar belt tightening at the broadcasters. Even so, he believes that there is plenty of talent to harness.

What remains clear, however, is that documentary remains an integral part of the Netherlands Film Fund’s activities. As Fund Director Doreen Boonekamp puts it: “Documentary is a fundamental thing. When you look around worldwide, there are just a few countries that really support feature length documentaries meant to be shown on the big screen. We want to keep this cinematic tradion which in the Netherlands is still strong.”

The joint programme with the Flemish Audiovisual Fund (VAF) will continue. (The idea is that the partners support three of each other’s feature docs every year to the tune of €50,000 per project, and both Dutch and Flemish companies learn to coproduce together.) “It works better and better. It is growing,” Fleury enthuses of the partnership. “We see more co-productions with different countries coming up and more contacts between the producers.”

At present, the Fund invests in 26 doc projects a year

Fleury points to the strength of the Dutch crop in IDFA as evidence that the doc tradition in the Netherlands is still thriving. That familiar Dutch eccentricity and particularity is there in the mollusc-themed L’Amour Des Moules (The Love Of Mussels, shot on 35mm and including extreme close-ups of mating mussels). Fleury reserves special comment for active nonagenarian docmaker Louis van Gasteren. “Despite his age, the boldness of van Gasteren’s new film (Nema Aviona za Zagreb) has great cinematic quality, which could inspire a younger generation,” he comments.

Fleury points out that decisions on which projects to back will be made on the basis of Fund policy and selection criteria, and not his own taste. Yes, the Dutch head of docs acknowledges, he has strong opinions about documentary. However, the intention is to look at the plan behind each project and to support filmmakers who “have a clear, consistent view” with outstanding visual and cinematographic qualities. “I exclude my taste and my preference for people’s style and focus on quality and look at people’s professional skills and the urgency to make their film.” If a project is well developed, he will suggest its support to Boonekamp who will judge the plan together with her production

Yes, Boonekamp states, these are “extremely tough” times for everybody in the film sector - and

Still: The van Waveren Tapes by director Wim van der Aar



that includes doc makers. “But we do have a lot of documentary talent that should be supported.” What’s more, the public is still coming to see these docs in cinemas. “It’s a small but very loyal public,” Boonekamp suggests, “and of course there is a large tv audience.” It helps too, she adds, that, in IDFA the Dutch have one of the world’s top doc festivals on their doorstep. “It’s very important to have such a showcase – and a co-production market like the Forum – within the Netherlands. It supports the idea that documentary as an art form in the Netherlands is really taken seriously.” Boonekamp stresses again that co-production remains a very high priority within future Fund policy. “International collaboration is not only important for financing reasons but also for creative reasons, and to stimulate export of Dutch documentaries. At IDFA the Film Fund will meet with represen­ tatives form South Africa and a delegation from China to discuss possibilities for collaboration.”

Production Overview

Festival Fare Dutch Competition IDFA

IDFA Paradocs

Wrong Time Wrong Place

Blind Fortune

The Only Son

Soldier on the Roof


Snake Dance

(Opening Film IDFA 2012, also in Main Competition)
 Director: John Appel Production: Cobos Films
 See pages 14-15

Director: Ramon Gieling Production: Pieter van Huystee Film
 The world of three blind people who operate against the backdrop of the Spanish national lottery.

Director: Simonka de Jong Production: IDTV Docs
 See pages 18-19

Director: Esther Hertog Production: Sarphati Media
 Despite everything, we are sensitive people. We would rather banish them than kill them. Even our enemies.

Director: Barbara Visser Production: De Familie
 After the head of a leading Dutch foundation transfers €16 million he vanishes, leaving his colleagues feeling betrayed.

Director: Manu Riche Script: Patrick Marnham Production: IDTV Docs See pages 24-25

Coming soon Alexandra

The Chosen Ones 


Space in Between

The Hum of Holland

The van Waveren Tapes

Director: Sarah Harkink Production: Hasse van Nunen, HKU Utrecht, Sarah Harkink See pages 8-9

Director: Geertjan Lassche Production: Evangelical Broadcasting Sales: NPO Sales
 In the Dutch Marine Corps, there’s just one law: the system is a strong as its weakest link.

Director: Anneloek Sollart Production: Basaltfilm Sales: NPO Sales
 Tom has only ever eaten raw food. His mother believes it’s the healthiest diet. Tom is seriously undernourished. The mother now has been reported for child neglect...

Director: Noelia Nicolás Production: Birdfilms
 Every day, a woman stands on the grass before an Amsterdam prison, shouting loving words to her lover confined within. A hostile environment where trees and birds coexist with wires and iron bars.

Director: Stella van Voorst van Beest Production: Volya Films
 The Netherlands from an aural perspective, presenting a surprising and confronting portrait of a familiar landscape. A journey across a noisy country, examining its ambivalent relationship with silence.

Director: Wim van der Aar Production: Hazazah Pictures Co-producer: VPRO Wim van der Aar’s exploration of a special life story and its bizarre origins. A story sprung from the discovery of a box of audiotapes.

Almost 18

I Want My Money Back 

The Secret of HEMA 

The Unplaceables 

Berlin diary


Director: Ingeborg Jansen Production: Human, IE Films Sales: NPO Sales
 A look at youth detention and its effects through the eyes of three locked up, streetwise adolescents.

Director: Leo de Boer Production: Pieter van Huystee Film 
 A quest by director Leo de Boer to get back the money he lost in the financial crisis.

Director: Yan Ting Yuen Production: In-Soo Productions 
 A story about trial and error, Dutch sausages, toilet brushes and fancy dresses. And about typical Dutch entrepreneurship.

Director: René Hazakamp Production: Riverpark Films
 A road-movie through the slums of the soul.

Director: Rosemarie Blank Production: DocEye Co-producer: Casa Films
 My observations of Berlin, focusing on the city’s foreigners. I wanted to know how these foreigners live and survive and what “feeling at home” in Berlin actually means.

Director: Mercedes Stalenhoef Production: Pieter van Huystee Film & TV
 An intimate portrait Amsterdam singer-songwriter Karsu Donmez who was discovered on her 17th birthday singing in the restaurant of her Turkish parents.

The Baby

Kill Your Darling

The Sex Police 

The Successor of Kakiemon 

Dream and Deed 

The Voice of the Master 

Director: Deborah van Dam Script: Deborah van Dam Production: Hell-o Films
 See pages 16-17

Director: Jaap van Hoewijk Production: Zeppers Film & TV Sales: NPO Sales
 A documentary about the attempts to reconstruct the past based on the unsolved murder of the American model Melissa Halstead in 1990.

Director: Roy Dames Production: KeyDocs
 Prevention and suppression of sexual slavery is high on the Dutch political agenda. Rules and procedures, however, make it hard for a passionate inspector and his dilligent staff to get human traffickers behind bars.

Director: Suzanne Raes Production: Submarine
 How does one take over a company that is four centuries old and has been run by one’s father, his father’s father and so on. Here is the unique story of such a dilemma faced by a modern day Japanese family.

Director: Annette Apon Production: SNG Film
 Using fragments from letters, poems, speeches and books, we see how the life and work of poet Henriette Roland Holst undergo a profound and dramatic development after she discovers the labour movement.

Director: Hester Overmars Production: SeriousFilm
 Since 2007 the director has followed the career of the outstanding counter-tenor Oscar Verhaar who is expected to become an internationally acclaimed performing artist. Will he succeed?



Profile for Netherlands Film Fund

SEE NL 09  

SEE NL is a publication promoting Dutch film and film makers to an international audience. It is published four times per year by Eye Film I...

SEE NL 09  

SEE NL is a publication promoting Dutch film and film makers to an international audience. It is published four times per year by Eye Film I...