Documentary producers from the Dutch-speaking part of Benelux – The Netherlands and Flanders – will be teaming up this Wednesday to pitch the region as an attractive co-production partner. The event marks the first joint outing for the two producers’ associations, DPN (Documentary Producers Netherlands) and Flanders Doc. Among other things, the presentation, which is part of the IDFA Forum, will look at funding opportunities available in both The Netherlands and Flanders.

Still from willemiek Kluijfhout's Mussels in LoveWhile the Netherlands Film Fund and the Dutch public broadcasters face serious budget cuts, and the Dutch Media Fund is expected to close its doors in the next few years, things are looking much more positive in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. “In addition to the VAF/Film Fund and the tax shelter, there’s also been the recent launch of the VAF/Media Fund, which is aimed at supporting quality television productions, including documentary series,” explains Flanders Doc chairman Mark Daems. Myriam De Boeck, documentary project co-ordinator at the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF), will also be on hand to answer questions.

This year’s IDFA features a number of co-productions with minority Flemish input: The Gatekeepers by Dror Moreh (co-prod: Anna Van der Wee for Wild Heart Productions) in Feature-length Documentaries competition; Mussels In Love by Willemiek Kluijfhout (pictured on the left)(co-prod: Bram Crols and Mark Daems for Associate Directors); Anton Corbijn Inside Out by Klaartje Quirijns (co-prod: Savage Film); Guerilla Grannies – How To Live In This World by Ike Bertels (co-prod: Ellen De Waele for Serendipity Films); and The Only Son by Simonka de Jong (co-prod: Eric Goossens for Off World). 

Although it’s their first international outing, the associations have met before. “We had a very good first meeting at this year’s Docville fest in Leuven,” continues Daems. The most “enlightening” part of the day, he says, was a case study on the self-distribution of documentaries. “The Dutch approach is a rather classical one that begins and ends with the 30 or so arthouses they have. They invest a lot for a rather small return. Producers there are also discouraged from self-releasing their films. In Flanders, we only have a few arthouses so we have had to think differently, which has been to our advantage. We had to look for alternative screening venues, and developed other initiatives such as the Flanders Documentary Days, when five docs are shown in five cities. We showed them that you can obtain better results with a relatively smaller investment.”

In Leuven, “the idea also grew to meet on a regular basis, and do things together whenever we feel there’s an opportunity. And IDFA is of course the perfect occasion to pitch ourselves to the rest of the world.” HW

Co-producing With the Lowlands, Wed 21 Nov, 9.30am, Engelenbak, Nes 71, A’dam

Published on Monday 19 November 2012