The Hubert Bals Fund is designed to help remarkable or urgent feature films by innovative and talented filmmakers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe on their road to completion. It provides grants in various categories that often turn out to play a crucial role in enabling these filmmakers to realise their projects.
The Hubert Bals Fund was founded in 1988 and named after the creator and first director of International Film Festival Rotterdam: Huub Bals.
In 1972, Hubert Bals founded the International Film Festival and became its first director, until his death in 1988. During the first festival years, there already was a plan to establish a film fund to help filmmakers - mainly from the so-called Third World - to get their film projects off the ground. After Bals' sudden death in 1988 it was decided to name the fund after him and thus the Hubert Bals Fund was born.
According to Bals, the masters of cinema and innovative filmmaking were not to be expected from the Western world, but from 'developing countries' and the so-called Third World. In the past decades of the Hubert Bals Fund’s existence, the fund has stayed true to his vision. It still focuses on supporting remarkable or urgent feature films by innovative and talented filmmakers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe.
The HBF offers several funding schemes: early on for script and project development, or later on for production. Filmmakers with a project in early development can apply for Script and Project Development Support in two sub-categories: Bright Future for first and second-time filmmakers, and Voices for filmmakers more advanced in their career. With the support of the Creative Europe-MEDIA programme of the European Union, minority co-production support is offered to European producers within the framework of HBF+Europe. Dutch producers can apply for co-production funding through the NFF+HBF Co-production Scheme, a collaboration with the Netherlands Film Fund. Read more about the most recent selections.
Although the fund looks closely at the financial aspects of a project, the decisive factors to grant support remain the content and artistic value. Since the founding of the fund, more than a 1,000 projects of independent filmmakers have received support.
Approximately 80% of these projects have been realised or are currently in production. All projects that were selected by the Hubert Bals Fund over the years can be found in a complete overview (updated January 2017). Every year, IFFR screens the majority of recently completed films supported by the fund. An overview of (past) selected HBF projects and Harvests can be found on the HBF Results page.
Updated Geographical Focus
In January 2017 the HBF announced its updated geographical focus. In January 2018 the HBF published a conclusive list that includes all eligible countries.
- The HBF provides support to talented filmmakers from countries listed on the HBF list of eligible countries. This list still includes all countries mentioned on the DAC-list of the OECD and has been expanded slightly, among others with certain countries ranking low on the World Free Press Index;
- The HBF will also provide support to feature films by filmmakers from a country on the HBF list of eligible countries, who are living in diaspora (e.g. dual nationality, refugee status or residency permit) in a non-eligible country. Please note priority is given to films that are majority shot in an eligible country.
Commitment to Benelux distribution
To guarantee that HBF-supported films reach an audience within the Benelux territory, IFFR becomes the 'custodian' of the Benelux distribution rights of all films supported by the Hubert Bals Fund as of 2017. This means that the Benelux rights remain with the legal rights-holder, but IFFR will collaborate with Benelux distributors in the release of the film and/or release the film through its own channels (e.g. IFFR.com/Unleashed).
The Hubert Bals Fund is supported by the Creative Europe MEDIA programme of the European Union, Hivos, the Dioraphte Foundation, Lions Club L'Esprit du Temps, the Netherlands Film Fund and IFFR's Tiger Film Mecenaat.