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NFF+HBF: Plus plus situation

The Cannes 2019 Directors Fortnight selection of Alice Furtado’s Sick Sick Sick (Brazil) further underlines the seriousness of Dutch commitment to highly creative films from emerging industries around the planet via the NFF+HBF support scheme.

The collaboration between the Film Fund and IFFR’s renowned Hubert Bals Fund extends back to 2006. The scheme was set up to enable the involvement of Dutch producers in international co-productions, and to support previously HBF-supported projects at production stage.

The annual sum set aside for investment by the Netherlands Film Fund is €200,000 and Dutch producers can be awarded a maximum of €50,000 production support in order to co-produce a film that has previously received a script development grant by the HBF. Since its 2006 launch the scheme has benefited 54 projects, including multi award-winners such as Muayad Alayan’s The Reports on Sarah and Saleem (Dutch producer: KeyFilm), Dominga Sotomayor’s Too Late to Die Young (Dutch producer: Circe Films) and John Trengove’s The Wound (Dutch producer: OAK Motion Pictures).

“What is very special about the programme is that the impact both on the local production company and the Dutch co-production partner is very big,” points out HBF Manager Fay Breeman. “On the local side, the projects are generally from countries with very limited funding availability, so the 50% [of the award] that can be spent is worth more because of low costs… From a Dutch perspective it is a chance to work on projects that go to A-list festivals such as Cannes.”

“We are looking to support projects where the co-production element is not just about funding but also about collaboration and artistic input,” she adds, pointing out that a major component of the Dutch involvement/spend on the Kenyan Rafiki (2018, Un Certain Regard) was on an acting coach. “This made a a huge difference [to the production], and for the acting coach herself it was a super exciting new thing to work with talent not just from the Netherlands but in this case Kenya. There the artistic impact was huge, but it made sense for the project.” Breeman also points out how NFF+HBF production support can benefit the infrastructure of industry that the production emanates from.

Film Fund CEO Doreen Boonekamp stresses how the scheme “is becoming even more important day by day.”

“The reason why we teamed up with the Hubert Bals Fund is that they can curate really important projects from all over the world and from countries we don't easily get access to in another way and to team up international productions with Dutch talents,” she stressed. “And one very important new step we took recently is that we not only give production funding to get films made but we are also teaming up at an earlier stage during the development of projects. So this enables both the Hubert Bals Fund and the Film Fund to collaborate in a really intensive way with some of the most interesting filmmakers from across the world.’

As to whether the scheme should be tweeked or amended, Breeman is definitely of the if it ain’t broke, don't fix it persuasion.

“I think if you look back at the films we supported and their track records it is amazing. You would never have thought beforehand that you could support so many films that end up in A-list festivals and reach huge audiences, so I actually think it works fine the way it is. New films, new producers to support - but in the same way.”

The NFF+HBF Spring Selection 2019 consists of two co-productions, as announced during Cannes last week: Shanghai Youth by Chinese filmmaker Wang Bing and Anatomy of Time by Thai filmmaker Jakrawal Nilthamrong.

Still: Sick, Sick, Sick by Alice Furtado