Attic Room to Full House

    From the archives: an interview with IDFA founders Ally Derks,  Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen and Willemien van Aalst in the last issue of the 1990 IDFA Daily.

    In the last daily, an interview with the Festival Top 3: Ally Derks (director), Willemien van Aalst (head of production) and Adriek van Nieuwenhuijzen (programme coordination). First off, the classic question:

    How did you come to the festival?

    AD: I was an intern at Festicon, a festival for film and video. I saw some beautiful documentaries there, but the cinemas were empty. I thought, we have to have a documentary festival. So we applied for some funds to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Culture, and the festival was born. At that time, Sonja de Leeuw was heavily involved with documentaries at Festicon, and she said, ‘I know these two great women, do you have any internships?’ That was Willemien and Adriek.

    WvA: We started out in an attic in Hilversum, with a typewriter and a telephone.

    AD: We had to have an advisory committee. We had a list of filmmakers and producers, and we just started calling them.

    WvA: Ringing up [Dutch film journalist and screenwriter] Jan Blokker, in a cold sweat…

    AD: And him with his deep voice: ‘But young lady…’ Now when Adriek and Willemien call, they get put straight through to the boss.

    How is the festival going? Are you happy?

    WvA: Very happy. This has been the busiest and best festival yet.

    WvA: There were a lot more visitors than last year.

    AD: After the weekend I thought, that was it – but it stayed busy.

    What do you think about the criticisms up to now?

    WvA: What criticisms?

    The discussion about the place of video alongside film.

    AD: We have been showing video for three years now, but the projection doesn’t yet have sufficient quality that we can show a lot of them. I do think we will have a video selection.

    And the requirements for the competition programme?

    AD: This festival doesn’t aim to show everything. That’s what the Dutch Film Days is for.

    AvN: If you talk to the guests, two things always come out: the high quality of the programme and the opportunity to meet other filmmakers.

    What will happen next year?

    AD: We want to become an A-list festival, and that means premieres.

    AvN: And then your prints have to be subtitled. We don’t have the money for that at the moment.

    AD: It’s especially important for the foreign guests that the Dutch films are also subtitled.

    WvA: We might be able to get a subsidy for the subtitling.

    AD: The main thing is to find out if we can continue on this financial footing.

    AvN: Everything is low-budget, and everything has to be cheap.

    AD: We would love to pay a lot more people. At the moment, only Willemien, Adriek and I are paid, everyone else is a volunteer and they still cost 60 to 70 guilders a day and there are about 70 volunteers working here.

    Speaking of volunteers: what do you think of the Daily?

    AvN: It’s getting better and better – the first one was a bit boring.

    WvA: Last year it was just one A4 with programme changes.

    AD: Next year, we will have to have information in English. There are some foreign guests who can’t quite keep up with it all, and miss the nominations, for example.

    AvN: You get the award for the best team, that’s for sure.

    When will you start working on next year?

    AD: We’ve been working on next year for three weeks now.

    Why do you do it, actually?

    AD: For the kick!

    WvA: And to see the full houses, and the people coming out, impressed. AD: Three years ago, the cinemas were empty, and now sometimes people can’t get in. The emotions on the faces of the people coming out: I’ve seen them laughing, and I’ve seen them cry….