The 2015 IDFA International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam just officially opened with the screening of A Family Affair directed by Tom Fassaert (pictured above) and presented awards to filmmakers Thomas Vroege and Tom Fassaert. The 2015 Dutch Cultural Media Fund Documentary Award of €125,000 went to Thomas Vroege to fund his film plan for Theater of the Crowd, and Tom Fassaert, director of A Family Affair, received The Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Documentary Award of €50,000.
Theater of the Crowd is film essay on the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe; a documentary about freedom that follows the narrative principles of Greek tragedy. The refugee crisis is a threat to the fractured foundations of a continent undergoing an identity crisis. How should we go about defending the ideal of freedom? The jury had this to say about the winning film plan: ‘Making artistic choices demands faith in your abilities, sense of conviction and, above all, ambition. The winning plan is brimming with ambition. It is experimental and courageous and it dares to go way off the beaten track. Taking an essayistic approach to questioning and investigating this pressing social issue, it is both topical and timeless.’
Filmmaker and video artist Thomas Vroege was born in 1988 and graduated in 2012 from the St. Joost Art Academy in Breda. His graduation film The Son & The Stranger won him the Dutch Film Fund’s Wild Card Award for that year’s most promising graduation documentary. His short film So Help Me God, which premiered at the 2015 Netherlands Film Festival, focuses on the financial world and the seemingly unassailable position of bankers. Vroege is currently making 9 Days, an installation on the Syrian civil war. In preparation for this piece, he recently filmed 9 DAYS – From My Window in Aleppo. He is also working with Mark Jan van Tellingen on the development of PARANOIA.WATCH, an app that aims to make measurable the effect of terrorism on society.
The Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Documentary Award was presented to filmmaker Tom Fassaert for the production of a new documentary.
Tom Fassaert was born in Naarden in 1979 and graduated in 2006 from the Netherlands Film Academy with the short documentary Doel. This film led a year later to the release of his much-praised debut De Engel van Doel. Filmed in black-and-white, it tracks the decline of Doel, a Belgian village threatened by the expansion of the port of Antwerp. Fassaert has been working for the past few years on A Family Affair, in which he visits his grandmother Marianne in South Africa, hoping to discover more about his family’s history and his grandmother’s problematic relationship with her children. This honest and personal family drama has established Fassaert’s reputation as one of the Netherlands’ most talented filmmakers. A second, keenly anticipated, film is a confident and stylish tour de force, again with an excellent storyline. Fassaert knows what he wants to say, and he knows how to say it.
The Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Documentary Award rewards talented filmmakers with a sum of €50,000, enabling the recipient to make a documentary film of his or her own choice. The award is granted to documentary filmmakers who have already demonstrated their qualities in practice and gained some recognition for their work. The previous recipients of the award are Klaartje Quirijns (2011), Renzo Martens (2012), Boris Gerrets (2013) and Jessica Gorter (2014).
Lastly, IDFA director Ally Derks was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres, and the French ambassador to the Netherlands Laurent Pic presented her with the Ordre des Arts et Lettres.