CANNES 2019: JORAM WILLINK
Joram Willink, Dutch Producer on the Move 2019, talks to Nick Cunningham about forging longlasting relationships with his writers and directors, and films that inspire social change.
Joram Willink led a hectic student life, but one continually defined by a curiosity on all matters cinematic. He studied art management, moonlighting across a number of film sets where he observed at first hand the necessary blend of craftman ship, inspiration and creativity. Then in the evenings he worked as a film projectionist. Significantly, at university he shifted focus from music to film, assessing the impact that good marketing would have on the industry he would later join. All the time, he knew and understood the kind of cinema that engaged his interest and that he may one day produce himself.
“I always liked films that addressed socially relevant topics, and I saw very clearly film’s power to communicate, how as an artform it can move large audiences.”
In 2007 Willink launched his com pany BIND with partner Piet-Harm Sterk. Since then, BIND productions have won numerous gongs that include an International Emmy and TIFF Award (Anything Goes, and King’s Day, Steven Wouterlood), the Prix Jeunesse (Mimoun, Tallulah Hazekamp Schwab) and a slew of Golden Calves, including Best Film for Gluckauf (Remy van Heugten). BIND’s latest film, Steven Wouterlood’s My Extraordinary Summer With Tess, was awarded the Special Mention by the Generation Jury at Berlinale 2019 and the Grand Prize at the NY Int’l Children’s Film Festival.
Yet despite all the awards, nothing beats the positive reaction of an audience, he concedes. “When we showed the short children’s film Anything Goes at a festival in Germany the kids were standing on their chairs… The best thing for me is that it communicated with the audience.”
At Producers on the Move Willink will present Mascot, the new feature by Remy van Heugten, as well as Sander Burger’s thriller The Judgement starring Fedja van Huêt (Character) and Yorick van Wageningen (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). Mascot follows a man who resorts to far-right ideology to vent his frustration. It is described by the producer as a socially engaged, psychological drama in which temptation, love, loneliness, frustration and trans formation are key themes. In The Judgement, a journalist sets out to counter ‘trial by media’ with a clear presentation of the facts, only to find that the image is more powerful than the truth. Willink argues that these films, as well as My Extra ordinary Summer…, to be released in The Netherlands July 2019, “are completely different but have our DNA in the sense that they address relevant social topics in a fundamentally different way.”
“In Cannes I will meet other producers from countries who will have a different practice of financing and making sales,” Willink adds. “I had that same experience at EAVE and especially at the Binger Filmlab. It was eye-opening and inspiring to see how a producer friend from Uruguay (Sandino Saravia Vinay) could make films with the Spanishspeaking countries. He later became the associate producer of Roma . He had to come a long way, but now he is on top of it all.”
Willink’s work with directors Van Heugten, Burger and Wouterlood underlines his belief that promotion of (as well as investment in) auteur talent is the best way to grow audiences for the type of cinema he wants to deliver. In this he is a great admirer of Dutch master Alex van Warmerdam, noting how “when he comes with a new movie, even if you don’t know the title, you just buy a ticket.”
This is what Willink seeks to replicate with his co-creatives. “What we do at BIND is to make a close connection, a close relationship, with the directors, not only on one film but across their whole career. They invest in us and we invest in them.”
SEE NL Magazine #35 May 2019 / Cannes - Annecy Issue
SEE NL is published four times per year by Eye International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.