Dutch production sector looks forward to a buoyant 2023 | Features

Number eighteen

The Dutch film industry is out in force this week at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR).

Several high-profile Dutch films will be screened during the event. This includes video and performance artist Guido van der Werve’s intriguing drama Number eighteen, about an artist and his inferiority complex in the Tiger competition. It is produced by Danielle Guirguis and made by Smarthouse Studio.

Meanwhile, Aaron Rokus’ millennial comedy drama goodbye strangers, made by Topkapi, is a world premiere at Limelight, and Iranian-born, Dutch-based Nafiss Nia’s That afternoon Screens in Bright Future. Produced by Halal, this is the story of an idealistic young Iranian woman, played by Hoda Niku, terrified that she will not be granted asylum in the Netherlands.

Several Dutch films will also arrive at major festivals later in the year. Steve McQueen’s documentary about the city in wartime, based on Amsterdam, Occupied city, has concluded and is all over the radar of leading festival programmers. Ena Sendijarević second feature Sweet dreams, produced by Lemming Film, is a costume drama set on a Dutch sugar plantation, is also tipped for festival selection. Gusto takes care of the Benelux distribution.

The industry is also looking forward to Sam de Jong Joe’s Speedboat, based on a coming-of-age novel by Tommy Wieringa and produced by Baldr Film. Peter Hoogendoom’s father and son road movie, Three days of fishproduced by Circe Films, is also generating buzz.

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Bounce back

The Dutch film sector bounces back after the pandemic, even if the registrations decreased by 32% in 2022 compared to 2019, there is an acceptance that this is at least a five-year process.

Producers are more dependent than ever on public funding. In 2022, more than 800 development applications were received by the Holland Film Fund, compared to an average of 450 requests per year before 2020.

There are some new developments that could have an impact: The local industry is pushing hard for US streamers to implement a so-called Dutch Investment Obligation, which requires them to plow 4.5% of their revenue back into local production. There are hopes that the legislation will be in place by July 1.

And last year, the Netherlands Film Production Incentive, which provides a 30% cash discount for films shot in the Netherlands, has been increased to 35%. The discount is also available for TV drama and has attracted a lot of inward investment. Among other titles, FX series Atlanta was shot in Amsterdam. UK detective Series Van Der Valk from Company Pictures also filmed in the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, the sector has been boosted by the growing success of ReadySet Virtual Production Studios in Amsterdam, founded by Florian Legters, Idse Grotenhuis and Dennis Kleyn. Modern love and Big Blue’s plane crash drama series The crash.

Brace yourself

There has also been a concerted attempt by the Holland Film Fund to develop talent from parts of Dutch society that are often underrepresented or ignored in the mainstream media. Talent scouts traveled all over the Netherlands and even ventured to Curacao and Aruba to track down potential filmmakers.

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These filmmakers can apply to the new Cypher program, which has now made its first awards: Dina’s Dabke by Randa NassarThe Boi Fu Bijlmer by Mitchell Lisse, Our friend, The robot by Joep Gerrits and Iskander by Donnya Zidan, are all in development.

The fund brings delegations from South Africa and Indonesia to IFFR. The Netherlands signed a co-production agreement with South Africa in 2015 and recently announced a joint development scheme together with the National Film and Video Foundation South Africa, Thuthuka. Through this, four Dutch-South African projects are supported every year. The filmmakers behind the projects selected in January 2022 are in Rotterdam this week for workshop sessions.

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They are: Reinier Smit with Show up, written by Chris Westendorp and produced by Spier Film and Dutch Mountain Film; Jason Jacobs and Eva Bartels with Solar, written by Jason Jacobs, Devon Delmar and Eva Bartels and produced by Kate Schalk and Interakt; Aryan Kaganoff with Die Wrede Relaas Van Vuilgat En Stiltewhich is produced by Serious Film, starring Thati Pele Brace yourselfproduced by Urucu.

Brace yourself is co-produced by Dutch outfit Baldr and has been optioned for CineMart.

The Dutch industry is also looking to further strengthen its filmmaking ties with Indonesia. Several recent films have explored the Dutch colonial legacy, including Jim Taihuttu’s 2020 war picture The East and Sendijarević coming Sweet dreams. The aim is now to set up a formal co-production agreement. Therefore, Indonesia’s Director General of Culture is leading a team for further discussions with Dutch colleagues at the IFFR.


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