The 2019/2020 BoostNL bandwagon rolled into Rotterdam on January 28 with nine projects looking both to benefit from top-level advice and guidance and prepare for the next stage of their professional trajectory.
Levels of confidence on stage were high as producer/director teams explained their raison d’etre, film plans and creative visions for their future works.
Ekaterina Selenkina’s Figures in the Urban Landscape, about a dealer hiding drugs in the city and taking pictures of chosen spots for clients, won the Eurimages Lab Project Award (and €50,000) at Les Arcs Film Festival in December 2019 and came to IFFR fully financed, with Dutch Mountain Film on board as a co-producer. The film had previously received €9,000 in Hubert Bals Fund support.
Figures in the Urban Landscape producer Vladimir Nadein confirmed that he is now looking for world sales and festival interest on a film that is shot on celluloid, but which used digital for rehearsals. "This method worked perfectly," Nadein said. He is also looking to partner with a suitable post-production house for a 16mm scan.
Another producer/director partnership eyeing up the next stage of their project were Nadia Eliewat (Jordan) and Sara Ishaq (Scottish/Yemeni) whose The Station has received several cash awards/funding so far – including €10,000 both in HBF support and €10,000 towards post-production costs in The Netherlands, courtesy of the Holland Film Meeting (HFM) in 2019. The team will commence location scouting in Jordan in March 2020.
"I didn't set out to make a women-only film," explains Sara of her project about a militia recruiter and mother of a 'martyr' who try to take over a tanker to send to the fighters before evening curfew. "It just kind of happened that way organically. I tend to document what is happening in front of me and when I went back to Yemen in 2015 I saw a drastic shift in society that was really unique. The women were going out and getting fuel and groceries and setting up businesses at home because the men were going to the front line to fight, or had lost their jobs and were going into a deep depression."
French producer Dominique Welinski, who is mentoring three BoostNL projects in 2020, points out that she operates within the "hard core arthouse universe."Read the interview
The makers of dystopian Dutch project The Dumped, budgeted at €750,000, now have a second script (English-language) available for potential investors. Producer Steven Rubinstein Malamud (Ijswater Films) outlined that he is looking towards a two-country co-production agreement on a 90/10 split, possibly with one of the Baltic States, Eastern Europe or Poland.
The Dumped director/writer Malu Janssen describes the concept of the film’s subterranean domicile of the dispossessed. "They live underground in this surreal world. I don't want it to look like an actual waste dump, so we will elevate it and show the beauty in it too; because Mia [the film’s heroine] is born there and it's the only reality she knows, so she sees a lot of beauty in it."
Two other HBF-backed projects in BoostNL were the Indian Rapture (Dominic Sangma) and the Brazilian From Guiné, directed by Caroline Leone, who spoke lyrically about her vision for the film. "The location and geography is a character that can help tell the narrative. All aspects of geography can help me tell the inner states of emotion, but not in such [an obvious] horizontal way. Sometimes it helps to indicate the complexities of the emotions."
From Guiné producer Paola Wink underlined her desire to find partners from Europe and Latin America, given the paucity of funding coming out of her native Brazil. "We are worried about the situation right now, but we still want to do the film the way we want."
Meanwhile, Dominic Sangma underlined the urgency of his project Rapture in which intolerance, mob lynching, anti secularism and warmongering take centre stage. "This you could never have imagined before in India, but this is really happening right now." The film, currently at financing/script development stage, is budgeted at €343,000 with €115,000 in place.
These projects started their tour in October at HFM in UtrechtRead more
Other projects discussed during the IFFR Boost NL event were Daniël Ernst's VR "experience" The Great Orator, the South Africa-located father/son project Groundswell, directed by Daniel Bruce and written by his father Ian. Dutch filmmaker Aaron Rookus presented his black mosaic comedy The Idyll and Other Exotics (€1.9 million budget) together with producer Layla Meijman (Studio Ruba), while the makers of Wild Gleaming Space (currently in script development stage, producers Babner Benaim/Isabella Galvez and director Mauro Colombo) discussed the inherent lyricism of a project reflecting on mortality.