Country Focus: Belgium
The Netherlands: An increasingly attractive partner
by Patrice Carré
- Isabelle Huppert in Paul Verhoeven's Elle
(This article has been published in the Cannes 2016 Market News daily by Le Film Français)
For Dutch cinema, 2015 has been an auspicious year, as much from an attendance point of view as a production one. The Netherlands Film Production Incentive (Nfpi) programme, which the Netherlands Film Fund launched in May 2014, has had an instant positive impact on the film industry. Last year, 80 projects shared a €17,3m funding budget, thus creating a return on expenses of over €80m. During the first session of 2016, twelve new projects received a combined €3,8m worth of funding, and three other sessions are already planned. Funding is granted in the form of cash rebates, allowing producers to regain up to 30% of production costs, up to a total of €1m per project. In order to be eligible, the project’s budget must be more than €1m for fiction and animated films, and €250,000 for documentaries. The vast majority of films that have been supported this way are international co-productions. This financial incentive has had the almost immediate effect of boosting the country’s cinema industry. In two years, the volume of production has increased by 42%. “For some time now, a lot of European countries have created incentive systems. It was time to implement a similar measure for our producers,” summarised Doreen Boonekamp, the Director of the Netherlands Film Fund. “Our market is naturally limited, and our professionals are incredibly dependant on the international one. The fact that we can more easily co-produce now has allowed our industry fresh growth, which will, in turn, facilitate the distribution of our films on an international level. Furthermore, we have ensured the creation of a mechanism which can be implemented quickly and simply.” At the same time, a system of selective aid continues to exist. With €2,5m granted for 2016, it is aimed at supporting Dutch minority co-productions, including close collaborations with the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), the Norwegian Film Institute – only for documentaries –, or the distribution of fictions and documentaries beyond Dutch borders.
Young producers and new filmmakers focus on market
The overall increase in support for cinema has gone hand in hand with the introduction of a judicial framework aimed at facilitating co-productions. At the 2015 Berlinale, the Netherlands signed a co-production agreement with Germany, stipulating that films co-produced between these two countries would be considered as national films, thus having access to public grants on both sides of the border. In October and December 2015, similar agreements were signed with China and South Africa. Then, in February 2016, came the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles’ turn, in the form of a text meant to strengthen the work done in collaboration with the French-speaking region of Belgium – Flanders being a natural partner, given the linguistic similarities, and having signed a similar agreement in 2004. Other co-production agreements have linked the Netherlands with France and Canada. Of the 80 projects supports by the Nfpi, 50 are international co-productions, and among the 12 projects that have received funding following the first session of 2016, half are co-productions with the following countries: the US, the UK, Bulgaria, Poland, Germany and Belgium. This is proof of the wide range of partnerships formed by Dutch producers. At Cannes, this year, the country will be particularly well represented. Paul Verhoeven, an emblematic figure, will present his new opus Elle [+see also:
film profile] in Competition, with Michael Dudok’s much anticipated animated film, Red Turtle [+see also:
film profile], being screened in Un Certain Regard. As for new entrants, the Directors’ Fortnight has selected Bosnian-Dutch director Ena Sendijarević’s short Import, along with Amani by Joris Weerts and Eelko Ferwerda in the Next programme at the Film Market. Amongst the 20 producers hand-picked to take part to Producers on the Move this year, is Netherlands’ Janneke Doolaard, who founded KeyDocs company with two of her associates in 2009. “Thanks to the creation of the cash rebate, Dutch producers have quickly become attractive partners for professionals from other countries,” explained Janneke Doolard. “We are going to accentuate our presence at Cannes, no doubt, because it’s going to become a very important place for us. That wasn’t the case just two years ago.” The young producer hopes to finalise funding there for Marc Schmidt’s In the Arms of Morpheus, which she is currently co-producing with Belgium.
This professional purple patch has also been beneficial for cinema attendances. For the first time in five years, the per capita ratio has increased from 1,8 to 1,9. In 2015, Dutch films had an 18.8% share of the market. Attendance rates have been boosted by some great domestic successes, such as Will Koopman’s Viper’s Nest 2 [+see also:
film profile]. Released during the 2015 holiday season, the film attracted more than two million viewers as of the end of its tenure on March 31 2016.