Reality Check, originality


Hilton, Rotterdam Zaal
Sunday, 26 January

Read, watch and listen to the recap of Reality Check 2020

Now in its third year, Reality Check is an annual conference and workshop that does a deep dive into an important topic impacting the global film industry. This year’s theme is originality. In a year when the global platforms and the Hollywood studios are dominating the discussion, we wanted to look at why original storytelling is so important to counteract the rise of monolithic culture and ensure a plurality of voices inspires audiences.

Throughout the day’s talks and breakout sessions, we want to examine many aspects of originality: new and unique voices; authorship and authenticity; collectives and collaboration; new content formats and technologies; overlaps with other art forms; and original ways to engage audiences both online and in cinemas.
After hearing from the inspiring experts in a series of talks, keynotes and panels, the audience members will be encouraged to join in immersive roundtable breakout groups, to discuss the importance of original voices and stories and come up with concrete ideas to keep originality thriving across different aspects of the film landscape.


  • 09:15 - 10:00 Arrivals, Coffee & Photos
  • 10:00 - 10:10 Welcome
  • 10:10 - 10:35 Opening Keynote
  • 10:35 - 11:05 Discovering & Championing New Voices
  • 11:05 - 11:50 Collectives and Collaboration
  • 11:50 - 12:10 Break
  • 12:10 - 12:45 Original Ways to Reach Audiences
  • 12:45 - 13:15 Embracing New Technologies and Storytelling Approaches
  • 13:15- 14:00 Lunch
  • 14:00 - 1430 Fireside Chat: Authorship and Ownership
  • 14:30 - 17:00 Breakout groups
  • 17:00 - 17:30 Group Presentations & Wrap Up
  • 17:30 - 19:00 Drinks

Reality Check 2020 Programme

10:00 - 10:10 : Welcome

Reality Check kicks off with thoughts from IFFR festival director Bero Beyer, head of industry Marit van den Elshout, and Reality Check co-curator Wendy Mitchell

10:10 - 10:35: Opening keynote: Originality in the face of monoculture

Dan Hassler-Forest discusses the implications of global tentpoles and monolithic brands for contemporary society. How can independent voices find ways to resist?

Dan Hassler-Forest is assistant professor of film and television at the University of Utrecht. He publishes widely on comics, American cinema, popular literature, and critical theory. Recently, he has become known for his unorthodox criticism of the Walt Disney Co. and some of its movies.

10: 35 - 11:05 Discovering & Championing New Voices 

Where can the film industry find original voices, and how can they be championed? How can first-time filmmakers break through to find attention and an audience? And how can we encourage artists from other mediums who want to move into film?

A business school graduate, Nathan Fischer launched Stray Dogs in 2015 after stints in sales, production and distribution. Stray Dogs is a sales, distribution and PR company that aims to discover and increase the value of outstanding emerging talent and original content. Stray Dogs’ current slate includes Arun Karthick’s Nasir (IFFR 2020).

Jessica Ann Peavy is an artist working across film, video and performance. She has exhibited her work at spaces including PPOW gallery, The Kitchen, Prosjektrom Normanns, The Brooklyn Museum, The Contemporary Art Museum Houston and Spelman College Museum of Fine Art. She currently lives and works in New York City and teaches film and media with several institutions and is a member of the New Museum’s art and tech incubator NEW INC.

Moderator: Wendy Mitchell

11:05-11:50 Collectives and collaboration

Filmmaking can be a lonely business, but artists around the globe are seeing the power of working in a collective, or collaborating in new ways. What are the strengths that collectives offer, and what are the challenges of working in such a collaborative way?

Jorge Cohen is a co-founder of Geração 80, an Angolan collective made of filmmakers, photographers, producers and other creative people, all with a sole ambition: to inspire a new generation. He is the producer of Air Conditioner (IFFR 2020).

Brooklyn-based Terence Nance is a filmmaker, writer, director, actor and musician. He has directed An Oversimplification of Her Beauty (IFFR 2012), HBO series Random Acts of Flyness and short Guisado on Sunset (IFFR 2020). He is one of the founders of international artists’ collective Ummah Chroma.

Jakarta-based Hafiz Rancajale is an artist, curator and one of the founders of the collective ruangrupa as well as founder of Forum Lenteng. Hafiz often works in video, and his films including Syuhada, Dongeng Rangkas and Angry at Bumi Lambu. He is also Artistic Director of ARKIPEL and OK. Video and editor in chief of Jurnal Footage.

Moderator: Beatrice Neumann

12:10 - 12:45 Reaching Audiences in New Ways

The cinema industry is undergoing a time of great upheaval in the digital era. So how can filmmakers better connect with audiences, both in cinemas and, increasingly, online? How can films also use creative tactics to cut through the noise and get attention?

Gavin Humphries is Managing Editor of global online arts and culture video platform NOWNESS. Based between London and Shanghai with an international audience of over 20million, NOWNESS commissions over 100 films each year. He is also a BIFA and BAFTA-nominated independent producer with credits including Pin Cushion (IFFR 2018).

Anurag Kashyap is an Indian film director, writer, producer, editor and actor best known for works including Gangs Of Wasseypur, Bombay Talkies, That Girl in Yellow Boots and Netflix Original series Sacred Games. Kashyap is also a film industry advisor for MyNK, a blockchain-powered global entertainment VOD platform.

Moderator: Lorna Tee

12:45 - 13:15 Embracing New Technologies and Storytelling Approaches

Alexander Porter of Scatter will present new technologies and opportunities in volumetric storytelling -- a movement within AR and VR content using 3D scanned imagery. He will then be joined by director Hannah Jayanti to discuss their creative approach to non-fiction in feature documentary Truth or Consequences, both in terms of process and storytelling, and finding a unique way to engage the community pictured in the film.

Hannah Jayanti is a documentary filmmaker who is dedicated to changing the way we listen to each other through the art of non-fiction. She’s passionate about making filmmaking accessible and teaches free and low cost media classes around the world. Her films include The Phantom Tollbooth: Beyond Expectations, Gasper & Son and Truth or Consequences (IFFR 2020).

Alexander Porter is an immersive director, digital artist and educator. He is a co-founder of Scatter, an Emmy-award winning immersive storytelling and software company. Alexander directed immersive documentary Blackout and he serves as co-producer and VFX creative director for Truth or Consequences (IFFR 2020).

Moderator: Wendy Mitchell

14:00- 14:25 Fireside Chat: Who does storytelling belong to? 

Anu Henriques talks about the unique collaborative process behind Rocks (IFFR 2020) as well as her work with the creative platform Skin Deep. She will explore topics such as, who does filmmaking and storytelling belong to? How can we think of storytelling outside of the current film industry framework? How can we make films that reflect the lives and experiences of younger audiences?

London-based Anu Henriques is the founder and co-editor-in-chief of Skin Deep, a creative platform that is redefining culture and amplifying voices of colour through discussions of race, politics and activism across print, online and live events. As associate director of Rocks (IFFR 2020), she collaborated closely with director Sarah Gavron, co-writers Claire Wilson and Theresa Ikoko and the teenage cast. She also works on the development team of Faye Ward's Fable Pictures.

Moderator: Rowan Woods

14:25 - 17:30 Interactive breakout sessions 

We will delve into five topics:

  • Discovering and championing new voices
  • Exploring new storytelling formats
  • Original ways to reach audiences
  • Collectives & collaboration
  • Amplifying women’s voices*

*Session 5 is cohosted by the Netherlands Film Fund and Creative Europe Desk NL

Curated by Wendy Mitchell and Esther Schmidt, and will be hosted by Wendy Mitchell