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Dutch Co-Productions Land in Cannes

Variety logo Variety 5/20/2017 Alissa Simon
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In Cannes, the Netherlands’ long tradition of international co-productions pays off with competition entry “A Gentle Creature,” from the Berlin-based, Kiev-raised director Sergei Loznitsa. The France-Germany-Lithuania-Netherlands title is co-produced by Marc van Warmerdam’s Graniet Film (the company behind his brother Alex’s 2013 competition player “Borgman”) and Peter Warnier’s Wild at Art. Warnier’s Warnier Posta did the sound-editing for Loznitsa’s second feature “In The Fog.” Of course, Loznitsa is no stranger to the Netherlands; Atoms & Void, his production and distribution company with Maria Choustova, which backed his most recent documentaries including “Maidan,” is based there.

In an average year, the number of co-productions, both majority and minority, practically equals the number of Dutch productions shot mainly or wholly in the Netherlands. Why are there so many international co-productions from this small country with a non-hegemonic language? As Doreen Boonekamp, CEO of Netherlands Film Fund, points out, “co-productions expand the possibilities for distribution in co-production countries and beyond.”

She believes that the best international co-productions start by putting the creative parts together in an organic way. The fund helps Dutch producers and directors to work internationally through specially designed funding schemes and offering support through international labs that expand their networks. Moreover, since 2014, the fund has offered a film production incentive, a 30% cash rebate on local expenses. So far, this incentive has funded 201 projects, of which 134 are international co-productions.

In addition to sponsoring the travel of a group of young Dutch producers so they can benefit from the Cannes Producers Network, the fund is organizing a number of networking events at the fest, involving Dutch and international producers, including a lunch with reps from French-and-German-speaking countries, a presentation and drinks with Chinese producers one afternoon and with producers from the U.S. and Canada the next.

Also repping the Netherlands at Cannes this year is the short film “Lejla,” from Dutch director Stijn Bouma, a student of Béla Tarr at the Sarajevo Film Academy, which will participate in the Cinéfondation selection. It’s about a young woman from Sarajevo who feels stuck in her life, working in a fast-food restaurant and taking care of her elderly father. When she falls in love with a young sailor, she must decide what’s best for her future.

The Cannes Classics sidebar will also go Dutch with a revival of the 1950 Palme d’Or-winning short, “Mirror of Holland,” helmed by Bert Haanstra. It lyrically captures Dutch landscape and life through the reflection of various canals and streams using an inverted camera.

Amsterdam has earned a reputation as a hub for innovative interactive content and pioneering new media production house Submarine is at the forefront of VR exploration. Cannes Next, a showcase for interactive and new media, will feature four of its projects. They include the prize-winning “Ashes to Ashes,” an immersive, surreal, tragicomedy in virtual reality about how a dysfunctional family handles the dying wish of their grandfather; “Februar,” a 2D animated panorama; “What Do We Care 4,” a music video that explores the potential of 360º video; and “The Night Watch,” a six-minute narrative about a security guard following a stranger in a factory.

Also in Cannes, Dutch producer Julius Ponten, a founder of New Amsterdam Film Co., will be one of European Film Promotion’s Producers on the Move. He previously produced Jim Taihuttu and Victor Ponten’s award-winning “Rabat” and Taihuttu’s second feature “Wolf” and served as co-producer for Francisco Varone’s road movie “Road to La Paz” and Mahmoud Al Massad’s comedy “Blessed Benefit.” Ponten is busy raising the finance for Taihuttu’s war epic “The East.”

In addition to the handful of Dutch productions and minority co-productions screened in the Cannes market, some forthcoming titles to watch for include the latest from Nanouk Leopold, an alumna of the Directors’ Fortnight for her “Guernsey” (2005). She recently completed the Belgian co-production “Cobain.” Produced by Stienette Bosklopper and Lisette Kelder of Circe Films, it’s a dysfunctional family drama seen through the eyes of the 15-year-old title character. Beta Cinema is selling.

Helmer Mike van Diem, whose 1977 “Character” won the foreign-language Oscar, stepped in to finish the period tragi-comedy “Tulips, Love, Honor and a Bike,” produced by FATT Productions’ Hans de Weers when compatriot Marleen Gorris (whose “Antonia’s Line” won the foreign-language Oscar in 1995) fell ill. Atlas Film is selling.

Ben Sombogaart, whose 2002 “Twin Sisters” was Oscar-nommed in the foreign-lingo category, is working on the romantic drama, “Raphael.” The multi-country co-production is headed by the Netherlands’ Rinkel Films and sold by Intramovies.

Dutch master documentarian Leonard Retel Helmrich expects an autumn wrap for his latest, “The Camp,” a portrait of life inside Majdal Anjar, a Syrian refugee camp in Lebanon. It’s a Pieter van Huystee Film production.

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