The Hubert Bals Fund
The Hubert Bals Fund (HBF) supports filmmakers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe at different stages of the production of narrative feature films. Since its inception in 1989, the fund has gained a reputation for recognising outstanding film talent from across the globe, often in places where freedom of expression and adequate film infrastructure are lacking.
* Categorisation of regions according to the World Bank's analytical groupings
This year, four different funding schemes awarded support to films in every stage of the production process. The spring and autumn rounds of the Script and Project Development Support each awarded development grants to 10 projects, with five projects simultaneously awarded via the NFF+HBF Co-production Scheme. HBF+Europe: Minority Co-production Support supported six further projects, whilst 2022 also marked the final Dutch Post-production Award which was discontinued, after having supported seven titles since 2019.
For an overview of selections, consult the Complete Results document.
The HBF’s collaboration with Brazilian partner Projeto Paradiso came to fruition. The non-profit organisation supports local filmmaking talent and works to bring greater visibility to their films, and in 2021 began awarding increased support to Brazilian projects supported by the HBF for development. In July, HBF gave a presentation on the fund to over 70 online attendees, and was joined by Maya Da-Rin, director of HBF-supported The Fever, which was supported by the HBF for development in 2015 and screened at IFFR 2020.
Four HBF titles participated in the bespoke development programme BoostNL, in collaboration with the Netherlands Film Festival. Bolivian filmmaker Kiro Russo won the NFF Script Development Award during NFF’s Holland Film Meeting for Lost Songs From Distant Realms and Flat Girls by Thai director Jirassaya Wongsutin won two awards: the Cam-a-Lot & Filmmore Emerging Cinema Award and the HFM Market Potential Award. The projects were then presented at CineMart 2022.
“The Hubert Bals Fund was really essential. We don't have any kind of support in my country, but with this I'm able to write, and to have time to do it – because time is the most difficult resource to find” – Bolivian director Kiro Russo
The 2021-2022 period saw a total of 11 HBF-backed premieres take place, more than double compared to the previous year. Six premiered at Cannes, including several highly-regarded titles which would take up prominent places on the yearly film circuit. Two projects premiered at Venice, whilst Qiu Jiongjiong’s A New Old Play won the Special Jury Prize at Locarno. Several HBF titles were also nominated as their countries’ Oscar submissions. Clara Sola by Nathalie Álvarez Mesén picked up five Swedish academy awards in 2022.
Four HBF-supported features screened online to audiences in the Netherlands during IFFR 2022. Audiences were invited to watch all the titles together as part of an HBF ticket bundle. Competitions and an expanded programme lineup were available to press and industry guests on Festival Scope Pro. Two HBF-titles screened in the Tiger Competition: Ningdu by Chinese director Lei Lei and EAMI by Paraguayan director Paz Encina. The latter, which had been supported in development and via the HBF+NFF collaboration with the Netherlands Film Fund, was the winner of the Tiger Award 2022.
Meanwhile, during a plenary session at IFFR’s producer training workingshop Rotterdam Lab, director Nathalie Álvarez Mesén and producer Nima Yousefi spoke to David Pope about the development process behind Clara Sola.
Paz Encina accepts the Tiger Award for EAMI
Nathalie Álvarez Mesén accepting one of five prizes at Sweden’s Guldbagge Awards for Clara Sola
The cast and crew of Freda at their Cannes premiere in 2021 (FRANCE24)
Tatiana Huezo’s Noche de fuego received three prizes at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2021.