The IDFAcademy & NPO Fund Workshop, the annual training program for emerging documentary talent in the Netherlands, is officially underway. Read on for all the details of the program, including what’s new this year and the full lineup of selected participants and tutors.
As always, six young filmmakers have joined the workshop to develop their documentary projects and prepare film plans under the guidance of experienced documentary professionals. This year, the program welcomes director Ester Gould as Head of Studies, who will tutor the participants alongside director and writer Beri Shalmashi and producer Frank van den Engel.
After several months of hard work, the participants will present their projects to the Dutch public broadcasters at IDFA 2021. One lucky filmmaker will receive the Karen de Bok Talent Award, handed out by an independent jury, of up to €25,000 for further development from the NPO Fund.
New this year is an increasing international focus. Whereas previous editions invited guest lecturers from within the Dutch documentary industry, the 2021 workshop includes several international sessions from the IDFA Project Space program. The goals are to strengthen participants’ authorship through a global context and offer access to the international market during IDFA, when workshop participants will also have the opportunity to network with their international peers.
This year’s participants are (upper row) Thomas Willem Renckens, Roshan Nejal, Raluca Lupaşcu, (bottom row) Amanda van Hesteren, Eva van Pelt and Arjen Sinninghe Damsté.
Ester Gould (Scotland, 1975) studied Film and Television Studies in Amsterdam and New York. She learned the practice of filmmaking mainly as a researcher and directing assistant to Heddy Honigmann. She also worked for theater company Growing Up In Public for a few years and later took the master's in journalism at the University of Amsterdam. Since 2005, she has been working as a documentary director. Among other films, she made the documentary film A Strange Love Affair With Ego (Best Dutch Documentary Award, IDFA 2015; Prize of the Dutch Film Critics) and, together with Reijer Zwaan, the festival hit Strike a Pose (Berlinale, Kristallen Film) which was shown at festivals worldwide and on Netflix. Together with Sarah Sylbing, she has been making films about poverty and class differences in Amsterdam-Noord for 15 years, including the award-winning and much-discussed series Schuldig (Zilveren Nipkowschijf, Tegel, 'Journalists of the Year') and Klassen (2020).
In 2016 she received the documentary stipend from the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund, and Variety named her one of the European Female Filmmakers to Watch. Today she works as a director, coach, and guest speaker, and produces together with Reijer Zwaan via their production company The Other Room.
Beri Shalmashi graduated as a screenwriter and director from the Dutch Film Academy in 2008 and pursued a master's degree through the Hogeschool van de Kunsten in Utrecht. She has been writing and directing for film and television ever since. She has worked with Sanne Vogel and Willem Capteyn, respectively, for the television film Mama (nominated for a Golden Calf in 2010) and the scenario for the book adaptation of Kader Abdolah's The House of the Mosque. Shalmashi writes regularly for de Volkskrant and de Filmkrant, advises for the Netherlands Film Fund, directs the discussion platform Avanti, and teaches at the Resolution master program at the Sandberg Institute, among other institutions. Recently, she won the Silver Camera storytelling award for her interactive documentary Big Village about her parents’ Iranian-Kurdish village. She is currently developing the feature film Under the Same Cloudy Sky at BALDR Film.
In 1997, Frank van den Engel started the independent documentary production company Zeppers Film & TV as a producer. He has produced almost two hundred films for theater and television. Several have won awards at prestigious festivals around the world: Andre Hazes - Zij Gelooft In Mij (John Appel, IDFA 1999 Opening Film), Dans, Grozny Dans (Jos de Putter, 2002), Voices of Bam (Aliona van der Horst, Tribeca 2006 Grand Jury Award), Stranger in Paradise (Guido Hendrikx, IDFA 2016 Opening Film) and Love is Potatoes (Aliona van der Horst, Winner Golden Calf 2018). In recent years, he has combined producing with the development and realization of his own film projects, alongside the mentorship of emerging directors.