I was making my way to the bar with some American film critics, during an industry party at the Cairo International Film Festival, when we ran into the International Director of the Sundance Institute in Los Angeles. One of my American colleagues knew the Sundance hotshot and naturally fired up a conversation. Eventually, the focus shifted to me: “So, what’s up with Dutch cinema, nowadays? And where are all the good films?”, the man from Sundance asked. Picture this: the setting was high-class, a tad soulless, and quite loud – a lounge band was playing on a volume that was too hard to lounge to, let alone, one to have a good conversation about your crippled film industry over. How do you respond?
What doesn’t help is that, as a young critic, I’m hardly an expert on the subject, yet. I know the bigger arc of Dutch film history, but I can’t expand on all of its short moments or movements that make up that bigger history. This, you could say, is also how I consider myself at this point: a moment in our film culture, seeing, reading, learning to become more than that. Besides my freelance work, I try to watch at least one film a day to keep up with old and new cinema alike. I conduct a lot of interviews with directors, read as many books as I can and try to keep up with other cultural news to be as informed as possible.
I think that being driven, and loving doing it, is necessary to excel in what I do, or in what we do as the collective film culture of the Netherlands. However, I do have the feeling that there’s plenty of people out there, in all kinds of positions, that don’t feel that need. And that’s showing in the diminishing returns of Dutch Cinema. It’s always the younger generation that’s hungrier, which makes me nervous, because I can’t picture myself anything besides hungry when I’m older.
“There’s plenty of interesting directors”, I explained to the man from Sundance, “but most are still a bit too young to be on your radar. However, I can send you some info about them if you’d like.” I hope that in the future I’ll be able to make these kind of claims with more confidence, not only in my own knowledge of Dutch cinema and film culture in general, but also in the emerging filmmakers from the Netherlands. With them I’ll hopefully have the pleasure of growing old and staying hungry!