Return of the Holland Film Meeting
Geoffrey Macnab previews the yearly Netherlands Film Festival interface between the Dutch production industry and the international co-pro, sales and distribution sectors.
The Holland Film Meeting is back - and it means business. Called "a four day whirlwind" by its organisers, the revamped event includes one of the most important international exchange markets in Europe (the event where Sacha Polak's Sundance entry Dirty God was first hatched) as well as meetings, networking events, debates and trail-blazing masterclasses.
As Rianne Poodt, Head of NFF Professionals & Talent & Education, points out, Utrecht is one of the few events on the industry calendar where you can do business on a barge. The HFM "Boat Sessions" allow delegates to discuss sales and distribution strategy while also being given a guided tour by water of one of the most beautiful cities in the Netherlands.
"During an experience like this, people are more open to communication," Poodt says of the combination of business, networking and sightseeing. "It's an example of what makes the HFM stand out from other international film markets: intimate and down-to-earth, it makes for an excellent platform to forge new bonds for future collaborations, without the hullabaloo of a global competition."
This year, Dutch producers are trying to reach the international buyers and financiers in another novel way, through their... stomachs. The producers will serve up a smorgasbord of delicious cuisine for 100 of their guests in a restaurant adjacent to the canal. "It's right in line with the festival's overall theme this year of Homo Ludens, reminding us that film making is not just a business, but a tremendous opportunity for creativity, experimentation, and play."
One measure of the attraction of the Holland Film Meeting is the number of leading sales agents and distributors from Europe and the US who attend. This year, TrustNordisk, XYZ Films, ARRI, Anonymous Content, Film4 and Universal International are all on the guest list. They will eagerly explore what their Dutch colleagues have to offer in terms of feature fiction and documentary films and, for the first time, interactive and VR projects.
The industry event Be Dramatic! will present international delegates with a sneak-preview of Undone, the new adult animated "dramedy" from innovative Amsterdam-based production outfit Submarine, and Heirs of the Night, Diederik van Rooijen's ghoulish new vampire drama produced through Lemming Films.
Thanks to the BoostNL programme launched in Utrecht in 2016, Dutch filmmakers can develop their projects at HFM and then take them on to International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) in January. These projects will secure finance through the festivals and then, if they are lucky, screen as part of their programmes. For example, Isabel Lamberti's latest project El azul bajo sus pies, produced through IJswater Films, was in BoostNL last year, and will follow up this year at HFM with a preview for international sales and distribution professionals.
Poodt and her team have put together a strong programme of masterclasses. These include Fiona Crombie, the production designer for The Favourite; Andy Hill, the music supervisor on The Lion King, and Michael Engler, the director of new British costume picture Downton Abbey. Also, as part of a long-standing collaboration with the Netherlands Society of Cinema Editors (NCE), HFM will host the annual NCE Masterclass with Lee Smith, the Oscar-winning editor of Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk.
There will also be a talk during the conference day on VOD platforms which will see heated discussions of such issues as the digital single market. Janneke Sloetjes, Netflix director for European Public Policy, is among the confirmed speakers for this as well as EUROVOD delegate Silva Cibien and LACINETEK's JeanBaptiste Viaud.
Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the Netherlands Film Festival, and it's a fair bet that the Holland Film Meeting will be right at the centre of birthday celebrations.
SEE NL Magazine #36 September 2019 / Locarno - Venice - Toronto - Netherlands Film Festival Issue
SEE NL is published four times per year by Eye International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.