Hubert Bals Fund

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).

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.

Huub Bals

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. 

2023 Heart of Sarajevo, Sarajevo Film Festival Ⅰ Blackbird Blackbird Blackberry, Elene Naveriani

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

Muayad Alayan

"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."

Dominga Sotomayor

"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."

Martín Rejtman

"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."

Apichatpong Weerasethakul

"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."

HBF Partners


  • Tamara Tatishvili

    Head of the Hubert Bals Fund

  • Jeske van der Slikke

    Hubert Bals Fund Manager

  • Ayumi Rosa Filippone

    Hubert Bals Fund Coordinator

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