Interview: Silvia van der Heiden
For incoming NFF director Silvia van der Heiden, professionals are in the spotlight more than ever at Dutch cinema's leading event.
International attendees of NFF 2018 will notice one striking difference between this and previous editions, that the festival is no longer home to a co-production market. "But at the same time we know that knowledge exchange and encouraging international co-operation remains essential to the Netherlands Film Festival, so we can add value in other ways," stresses new director Van der Heiden.
She further underlines that, for professionals, Utrecht has for many years served as one of Europe's key gateways for independent, arthouse, content-driven exchange and innovation. And as a catalyst for renewal the festival has always looked to promote cross-pollination between disciplines, actively seeking to develop links between the storytellers, auteurs and visionaries working in the European audiovisual sector.
So how then will the Professionals Programme reflect these lofty aims in 2018? Through a programme designed around the inspirational (and complementary) platforms of Discuss, Inspire, Stimulate and Meet, Van der Heiden confirms.
‘Discuss' equates to the NFF Conference to be held Sept 28, the key theme of which will be the advice of the Culture Council of March 2018 and the Minister's recommendations. The main topic of discussion will be how to optimize the visibility and accessibility of Dutch productions by embracing future challenges within a.o. digitisation, audience reach and multiplatform distribution.
‘Inspire' means the presentation of inspirational masterclasses from leading lights within their respective fields, such as producer Jan Harlan, as well as the return of the Be Dramatic! seminar devoted to the current state of European drama.
The ‘Stimulate' strand consists of various tailor-made project development programmes designed to stimulate knowledge exchange and cooperation between the Dutch and the international film industry. These include the ongoing BoostNL programme, run in partnership with IFFR, that offers guidance to projects in development (Dutch), or inter national projects that have already impressed at CineMart and HBF. Leading sales companies Wild Bunch and Trust Nordisk a.o. will advise on cutting edge sales strategies. Once again in 2018, two highly talented emerging Dutch producers and two dynamic young directors will be unveiled to the international industry during the Talents en Route programme.
In the Stories & Beyond programme, focusing this year on the industries of France and Wallonia, selected screenwriters get personal one-to one coaching and advice from those industries' representatives, with emphasis placed on the script and its inter national prospects and marketability. What's more, the Sold! Initiative gives international sales agents, distrib utors and festival programmers the opportunity to indulge in sub stantive matchmaking sessions with professionals from the Dutch industry, together with their projects.
‘Meet' represents the true spirit of ‘roll up the sleeves' indepen dent filmmaking as it offers one-to-one professional networking opportunities during events such as the Talent Speed-dates and Feedback sessions, matchmaking and organised lunches, dinners and drinks.
Van der Heiden underlines that Utrecht is a well-established and much-loved public festival with annual audiences of 150,000+ , many of whom are sophisticated and cultured cineastes, many of whom equally love the glitzy razzmatazz that an event such as NFF can offer. "Dutch cinema has a broad perspective, we have a huge mix of arthouse and commercial. We programme both and we want to reach both audiences."
"But the starting point of the festival must be the professionals," is Van der Heiden's mantra. "Which is why we have devised this inspiring fourday event to make it easier for the industry, get them to meet, get them to learn from each other and to be, in turn, inspired by each other."
SEE NL Magazine #32 September 2018 / Venice, TIFF & NFF Issue
SEE NL is published four times per year by EYE International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.