About the Hubert Bals Fund
The Hubert Bals Fund of International Film Festival Rotterdam is a curatorial fund dedicated to supporting filmmakers in every stage of the filmmaking process – from script development to post-production.
Over more than 30 years, the fund has developed a distinguished taste for filmmakers with a forward-looking artistic vision. The HBF focuses on supporting filmmakers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe (full list here). Oftentimes, HBF-supported films premiere at major film festivals, reaching wide audiences and finding significant critical success.
The HBF has been especially helpful for filmmakers from countries where freedom of speech and a solid film infrastructure are lacking. The fund functions in tandem with other activities of IFFR Pro, which include training talent, providing networking opportunities, and hosting co-production market CineMart.
The Hubert Bals Fund was founded in 1988 and named after the first director of International Film Festival Rotterdam: Hubert 'Huub' Bals.
In 1972, Hubert Bals founded the International Film Festival Rotterdam and became its first director, until his death in 1988. During the first festival years, the plan to establish a film fund already existed. The idea was to help filmmakers - mainly from what was then called the Third World - to get their film projects off the ground. After Bals' sudden death in 1988, it was decided to name the fund in his honour and so the Hubert Bals Fund was born.
It was Bals' strong belief that the masters of cinema and innovative filmmaking were not to be expected from the Western world, but from 'developing countries'. In the past decades of the Hubert Bals Fund’s existence, the fund has stayed true to his vision. It still focuses on supporting feature films by filmmakers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and parts of Eastern Europe.
Over the years, many HBF-funded films have premiered at major international film festivals, often taking home prestigious awards. The list of prizes won by HBF-funded films is extensive, please find a selection of highlights below.
2020 Golden Shell for Best Film, Silver shell for Best Director, Silver Shell for Best Actress, Jury Prize for Best Screenplay, San Sebastian | Beginning, Dea Kulumbegashvili
2019 Golden Leopard - Filmmakers of the Present & Best First Feature, Locarno | Nafi's Father, Mamadou Dia
2019 Special Jury Award, Sundance | Monos, Alejandro Landes
2018 Special Jury Award IFFR | The Reports on Sarah and Saleem, Muayad Alayan
2018 Silver Seashell Best Director, San Sebastian | Rojo, Benjamin Naishtat
2018 Golden Leopard, Locarno Film Festival | A Land Imagined, Yeo Siew Hua
2018 Best Film, BAFICI | La Flor, Mariano Llínas
2018 Luigi De Laurentiis Award, Venice | The Day I Lost My Shadow, Soudade Kaadan
2018 Best Director, Locarno | Tarde para morir joven, Dominga Sotomayor
2017 Un Certain Regard Prize, Cannes | A Man of Integrity, Mohammad Rasoulof
2017 BAFTA Outstanding Debut Winner | I Am Not a Witch, Rungano Nyoni
2016 FIPRESCI Prize, Hong Kong | The Island Funeral, Pimpaka Towira
2015 Alfred Bauer Award, Berlinale | Ixcanul, Jayro Bustamante
2015 Nomination Best Foreign Language Film, Academy Awards | El abrazo de la serpiente, Ciro Guerra
2014 Critics Week Grand Prize, Cannes | The Tribe, Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi
2011 Golden Leopard, Locarno | Abrir puertas y ventanas, Milagros Mumenthaler
2010 Grand Prize, Tallinn Black Nights | My Joy, Sergey Loznitsa
2010 Palme d’Or, Cannes | Uncle Boonme Who Can’t Recall His Past Lives, Apichatpong Weerasethakul
2005 Camera d'Or, Cannes | The Forsaken Land, Vimukthi Jayasundara
2003 Grand Prize, FESPACO | Heremakono, Abderrahmane Sissako
2001 Grand Prize of the Jury, Cannes | Distant, Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Filmmakers about the impact of the Hubert Bals Fund
"Receiving the support of the Hubert Bals Fund was the most critical milestone for our film. It embarked us on a wonderful nurturing journey where the fund's great support, both strategic and financial, was with us in all stages of making our film. Of no less importance, the recognition of our vision by the fund gave us the visibility we needed in the industry in Europe, the Arab world and internationally, which enabled us to piece together the production partnerships we needed for the production to become a reality."
"The support of the Hubert Bals Fund has been key in my work since my first feature film De jueves a domingo. My second feature film Tarde para morir joven was a small odyssey, a very challenging production, and it was impossible to finance it in Chile. I appreciate very much the support that HBF gives in the very beginning of the projects, in the ideas and risks. For me has been more than a fund."
"I believe that my first feature, Rapado, was the first Argentinian film supported by HBF. Since then they supported almost all of my films, including my next project, La Práctica, and so many more Argentinian independent movies throughout the years. One day someone will have to tell this story, and it will be crystal clear that HBF was one of the main reasons for the very existence of what people call Nuevo Cine Argentino. Of all the film funds that exist today, the HBF is still the more generous, idiosyncratic, and free of them all."
"I am deeply touched and grateful for HBF over the past 20 years since I started my first movie. It has inspired filmmakers to treasure our voices and stories. Moreover, the fund has set the standard for others, including Thailand, to establish a film support system. This standard, with its adventurous spirit, is still gold."
Interim manager Hubert Bals Fund
Jeske van der Slikke
Hubert Bals Fund Coordinator
IFFR Pro, HBF Coordinator & CineMart Project Manager
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Other blog posts on Hubert Bals Fonds
16 November 2021
Ten projects to receive the HBF Script and Project Development support
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02 September 2021
Anatomy of Time and Detours, both supported by the Hubert Bals Fund, premiere at Venice International Film Festival.
09 November 2021
Several films which screened at IFFR or were backed by IFFR Pro have been submitted to the Oscars