Silvia van der Heiden • Director, Nederlands Film Festival
"Our aim is to contribute to the development of the Dutch film and media industry – the HFM is one of the efforts to achieve that"
by Chris Frieswijk
- We chatted to the director of the Nederlands Film Festival, Silvia van der Heiden, to get the low-down on the upcoming 39th edition of the Dutch gathering
With the 39th edition (27 September-5 October) of the Nederlands Film Festival (NFF) fast approaching, we sat down with festival director Silvia van der Heiden. She is in her second year as director and is proud of its recent developments, as she talks about the event’s role in the Dutch film industry, the cooperation with the country’s other big festivals, and its knock-out of an opening film.
Cineuropa: This is your second year as festival director. What are some accomplishments you’ve achieved so far?
Silvia van der Heiden: I am very happy with the rich programming this year. We have great films, workshops and master classes. One of the focus points has been the professionals’ programme. We’ve narrowed it down to four days to make sure that people would attend most of the time, as opposed to the nine days for the public. We are continuing to profile ourselves as a platform for Dutch film and media professionals, and to strengthen our connection with the industry. They are the reason we are here at all. From that connection, the rest unfolds naturally, and we can please the public with an exciting programme that includes highly acclaimed films, such as our opening film, Instinct [+see also:
film profile] by Halina Reijn.
What is the main theme of the professional programme?
The underlying theme is homo ludens, or playful man, originally coined by Johan Huizinga. He wrote about the importance of the element of play in culture and society. This idea arose at the conference last year, where Rumle Hammerich, director of The Bridge, passionately argued that money is not everything in realising a creative work; that there is a smaller wheel necessary to get the construction moving, like a watermill. We liked the idea and decided we should start playing again; define the frames, see how to move them, experiment, hit our heads and get back up. What I am personally looking forward to is the Live Foley Workshop by Caoimhe Doyle and Jean McGrath, who’ve worked together on Game of Thrones. They’ll be immersing the audience in the world of sound, as they’ll generate foley on the spot to accompany existing visuals. And there are the master classes by director Michael Engler, Lee Smith, the editor of Dunkirk [+see also:
film profile], and Andy Hill. What I find especially nice, though, is that within the frame of the Holland Film Meeting, the involved Dutch producers will be showing off their cooking skills on the Monday night, as they’ll be preparing an Indonesian-style buffet for their visiting colleagues from abroad.
That sounds like a good way to get to know each other. What is the Holland Film Meeting about?
Our main aim is to contribute to the development of the Dutch film and media industry – the Holland Film Meeting is one of the efforts to achieve that. It’s an actual meeting between the international industry and our homegrown talent. We’re looking to match productions with international professionals, who can take on an advisory role and share experiences, both on an individual level and during the plenary sessions. International contacts are increasingly important for the Dutch industry, as we can see by looking at the numbers. We’re looking at 23% minor co-productions last year, which is a nice number, but still leaving room for growth, obviously. The Dutch market should open up more, and I believe we can contribute to that as a festival, partly by selectively inviting international producers and sales agents to Utrecht.
What are your ambitions?
Last year, the Holland Film Meeting was smaller, and we are trying to expand it step by step. We already had BoostNL, of course, our collaboration with International Film Festival Rotterdam, in which we offer a tailor-made programme kicking off during the NFF, leading up to the IFFR Pro Days, for a selection of works in progress. It turned out to be a successful formula, something we want to develop further, perhaps into a year-round programme. Working together with other festivals, such as IFFR, IDFA and Cinekid, can be an interesting road to pursue.
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