Magazine article Variety

Dutch Pix Grab the Spotlight

Magazine article Variety

Dutch Pix Grab the Spotlight

Article excerpt

Rotterdam fest puts new emphasis on dynamic local filmmakers

Rotterdam is reinforcing its relationship with the Dutch film industry this year, giving a higher profile onscreen and highlighting domestic projects at its venerable co-production forum, CineMart.

The move recognizes a resurgence in local film production, at a time when the industry is braced for financial hardship.

"Next year there will be a big funding cut, so I'm happy we can support Dutch films strongly this year in order to make the case for financial support," says fest topper Rutger Wolfson.

While coin from the Netherlands Film Fund and other public sources is due to plummet, the government is mulling the introduction of a tax break for the industry.

"I think that's very necessary, and I hope we can help," adds Wolfson, who took charge of programming Dutch films himself and reports no trouble finding titles worth screening. This year we were lucky enough to have a strong selection of films that were ready and available for the festival."

The presence of two Dutch contenders in the feature competition suggests quality is up compared to last year, when no local pics made the cut. "We will have two Dutch Tigers this year, which is quite special," says Wolfson.

One is "The Resurrection of a Bastard" by Guido van Driel, which will also open the fest Jan. 23. A bleak tale of crossed destinies, it concerns an old farmer bent on revenge, a criminal on the run and an illegal immigrant.

The cast includes Yorick van Wageningen (the abusive guardian in David Fincher's "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") and national treasure Jeroen Willems, who died in December.

The other contender is "Silent Ones" by Ricky Rijneke. Described as a surreal trip on the fragile edge of life and death, it stars Orsi Toth ("Delta," "Women Without Men") as a young Hungarian traveling West to keep a promise to her brother.

Other Dutch selections include "How to Describe a Cloud," a mother-daughter tale exploring loss and imagination, by fest regular David Verbeek ("Shanghai Trance"); and feature debuts such as "Die Welt" by Alex Pitstra, "Devastated by Love" by Ari Deelder and "Dead Body Welcome" by Kees Brienen.

Genre fare includes comedy "The Deflowering of Eva van End" by Michiel ten Horn and "Frankenstein's Army" by Richard Raaphorst, a zombie film fully financed in the U.S.

While some of these films are making their world bows at the fest, others already have international credentials. "Die Welt," which is set in contemporary Tunisia, was selected at Doha, while "The Deflowering of Eva van End" played at Toronto.

"Most of these films can function very well internationally," Wolfson says.

Meanwhile, the festival faces its own fiscal cliff. The Dutch government has reduced its funding by around 6%, while the city of Rotterdam has clawed back nearly 20% of its coin. "The city is making large cuts everywhere, so it is quite understandable, but from our point of view it's a serious cut," Wolfson says.

Yet the festival is well prepared and can ride out the storm, he maintains. "We are lining up a lot of alternatives for this financing and I'm quite confident we can keep the festival's level of finance more or less the same in the coming years."

In the longer term, part of that gap will be filled by the audience. Mechanisms are now in place that allow people to donate and get more closely involved with the festival. …

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