EFM - Nine Film
Nine plus Ten
Amsterdam-based sales outfit Nine Film is gearing up for the international roll-out of No. 10**), the eagerly awaited new film from Dutch auteur Alex van Warmerdam, now in post-production and likely to surface at a major festival later in the year.
Nelleke Driessen - Nine Film
Nelleke Driessen, head of sales and acquisitions, will be showing selected buyers some footage from the film during the online Berlin European Film Market.
"The Van Warmerdam family is very loyal," Driessen says of the director and his producer brother Marc of Graniet Film who, almost always, stick with trusted partners. She has worked with them many times before in her years at Fortissimo Film Sales. Their collaboration now stretches back a quarter of a century to Van Warmerdam's The Dress in 1996.
"That is also what I like to do with Nine Film as well, start [working with a director] early in their career and follow them," Driessen notes. The trick is to identify other filmmakers of the calibre of Van Warmerdam.
In Berlin, Driessen is holding market screenings of two new features: Kaweh Modiri's Mitra**), which was a premiere at IFFR in January, and Becoming Mona*) from Sabine Lubbe Bakker and Niels van Koevorden (the Flemish directors of Ne Me Quitte Pas*)). This screened in the US at the Chicago Film Festival in the autumn having premiered in the Benelux at the Netherlands Film Festival and in Ghent.
One emerging talent for whom the sales chief has very high hopes is Uisenma Borchu whose feature Black Milk screened to acclaim in Berlinale Panorama last year. This is a drama about the reunion of two sisters, one of whom grew up in Germany and the other in Mongolia. The bond between them is very strong but there are now profound cultural differences between them.
The Mongolian-German actress and director doesn't have a new project currently but Driessen hopes to continue working with her when she does.
Black Milk was invited to many festivals after its Berlinale premiere but, as Driessen put it, "then the world stood still." Thanks to Covid, events were cancelled or moved online. However, Driessen is confident that the film can now find the theatrical audience that the pandemic denied it.
It has been an eerie time in the world of international sales. The buyers already have a backlog of unreleased titles and have grown wary about acquiring new films and remain cautious.
Driessen, though, is sure they will soon regain their confidence. In the meantime, she is also looking to the streamers who are picking up new movies.
Nine Film was set up by Driessen in 2018. It is a sister company to Pim Hermeling's September Film, one of the leading independent distribution outfits in the Netherlands.
"We do have an eye for Dutch film but it is absolutely not the intention to be an exclusive partner for all of them," Driessen says of how the company is building its slate. "It is all about quality and sales opportunities. Apart from the Dutch films, it [will be] a careful selection of art house films from all over the world."
The aim is to pick up around 10 films a year ("definitely not more"). Some documentaries may be included in the line-up. (One doc that Nine Film is already selling is Mirai Konishi's Kampai! Sake Sisters, about women and sake brewing in contemporary Japan.)
Nine Film and Dutch distributor September Films work hand in hand on some acquisitions. "But, at the same time, we also acquire films at Nine Film that already have a distributor in the Netherlands."
Driessen is one of the more experienced and respected sales executives in the Netherlands. Yes, she acknowledges, there have been shifts in the marketplace. Distributors have become more mainstream in their tastes when it comes to art films. Nonetheless, she is excited by the new projects she has been tracking at online co-production events like Les Arcs and IFFR. Now, after a year of interruptions, her one big hope is that she will again soon be able to meet business colleagues and distributor clients face to face.
* This film was supported by the Netherlands Film Fund
** This film was supported by the Netherlands Film Fund and the Netherlands Film Production Incentive.
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