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Cannes 2019: Eat, drink, network, produce

On 19 May 2019, funders and producers from the Netherlands, Ireland and the UK (including representatives from the BFI, Screen Scotland and Northern Ireland Screen) sat down to a Cannes lunch designed to further strengthen ties between their respective industries.

Speaking before the event, the BFI’s Katie Ellen, Senior Manager, International Distribution and Commercial Strategy, underlined keen UK interest in dialogue toward ongoing high-level co-operation. “The very significant number of UK producers wanting to be involved in this event with active projects in development with a Dutch angle, show how much potential there is for future collaborations between the two territories. And this can only build on the recent success of Sacha Polak's UK/Dutch/Ireland/Belgian co-production Dirty God, which premiered at Sundance and Rotterdam.”

“In the current environment, we view our European partnerships as more important than ever - a place for fruitful creative and commercial collaborations and co-productions. Cannes is the perfect place to deepen these relationships, both between the producers themselves and the funding agencies,” she added.

Taking up the Brexit theme, Screen Ireland CEO James Hickey offered words of support and encouragement to UK producers and restated his commitment to working with the Dutch. “Whatever happens to the UK it will always be in Europe, is what we always say. There may be various relationships and ways in which that is mediated whether inside or outside the EU or the EEA (European Economic Area) [but] we will always be working with the UK as we will with Holland and the Netherlands film Fund.”

“In Ireland, co-production is essential as the need we have is both for creative partnerships and for funding partnerships,” Hickey further explained. “Irish producers are in that sense very actively looking for opportunities throughout the EU and elsewhere and obviously Holland has been a great co-production partner, as has the UK, and this is something we want very much to encourage and support… That to me is why we want to get together [in Cannes] and provide this networking opportunity for them [the (co)producers from the respective territories].”

Isabel Davis, Executive Director of Screen Scotland, highlighted the upcoming Netherlands/Luxembourg/UK co-production Marionette directed by Dutch Elbert van Strien and produced by Arabella Page Croft for Glasgow-based Black Camel Pictures. Dutch financiers of the mystery thriller include the Netherlands Film Fund, Tuschinski Fund, the CoBo Fund and broadcaster Avotros. “Our plan is to encourage more international co-productions with Scotland, built on strong creative foundations. Having recently backed Marionette (Scotland/Netherlands), and collaborated with the EYE and ACE, we are keen to see more good work coming through,” Davis underlined.

Netherlands Film Fund CEO Doreen Boonekamp commented: “What we have been looking out for at the Fund is different territories that we can really intensify our co-production relationships with, both for Dutch filmmakers developing their own projects and of course in terms of developing excellent projects from abroad that are high quality and beneficial to team up with.”

“We have had a very intensive collaboration for years with the Irish film industry and at the beginning of 2019 we saw the premiere of Dirty God, which was produced together with the UK. The Lobster was another fine example of a good UK collaboration. This event in Cannes offers the opportunity for Dutch, Irish and UK producers to network and to exchange ideas on new projects and to see if we can really go on strengthening the collaboration between all our countries,” Boonekamp added.

“I think when you really want to have an interesting slate of films that can reach out to wide audiences you also need to have an eye for the specific cultural diversities from all the different countries and regions. This is something we will continue to work on.”