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An entire film year in hand with the 2023/2024 Film Yearbook

There are of course different ways to look back on the past film year, 2023 in this case. So I don't mean the Oscar spectacle. Shortly after the turn of the year, there is always the traditional presentation of the annual figures of the film industry, but just as traditional is the Film Yearbook, published annually - since 1981 already. On Thursday afternoon 18 April at the Ketelhuis, Hans Beerekamp handed the first copy of the new edition to Nafiss Nia (That afternoon), the poet, director and producer who wrote an article highly relevant to Dutch film culture for the yearbook.

Yes, with that Film Yearbook you really have an entire film year in your hands. Not only all films released in the Netherlands, with annual lists and film awards from the most important festivals, but also a broader view with articles that point out trends and developments, among other things. That overview of all titles released in 2023 is the hard core, so to speak. Detailed credits, release data and attendance figures, and concise but to the point film descriptions to which some thirty Dutch film journalists/critics contributed. Just a bit more and better than the IMDb.


This time Nico van den Berg wrote the opening article detailing the film year. I take the liberty of quoting his lead:

'2023 was dominated by Barbenheimer, the contraction of the year's two biggest hits: Greta Gerwig's Barbie and Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer. Hollywood was further rocked by months of writers' and actors' strikes and the rise of AI. Dutch cinema, meanwhile, was in a serious international identity crisis.'

Cover image

Yes, Barbenheimer was indeed a unique phenomenon, not least because it escaped the control of the studios Warner Bros. and Universal. The Film Yearbook editors would have loved to make a Barbenheimer cover, but Warner and Universal did not give permission for that. So now it's just Barbie. The rest we like to think of.

Identity crisis Dutch film

In addition, Belinda van de Graaf portrays the Author of the Year, this time Yorgos Lanthimos (Poor Things). Barend de Voogd does something similar with a completely different figure: the King of Monsters Godzilla, who has appeared again and again in different productions for 70 years. Joost Broeren-Huitenga saw a remarkable amount of autobiographically inspired work, such as Spielberg's The Fablemans Whether it is the press- and public-loved Aftersun by Charlotte Wells. He not only identifies this trend but also links it to social developments.

That the Film Yearbook puts the film year in a broader perspective with those introductory articles is certainly evident in the piece Different horizon? by Nafiss Nia, which fits perfectly with the identity crisis of Dutch cinema already cited by Van den Berg. The editors saw a striking number of Dutch films by makers with a non-Dutch background in 2023, and asked Nia, originally from Iran, to analyse the resulting vision of Dutch society. She gave a very own and personally inspired interpretation of that request, actually doing the opposite.

Different horizon?

What place does Holland see for these new filmmakers? This is how you can see the angle of Nia's contribution. When she had submitted a perfect film plan after the Film Academy, she had to witness that it still did not go ahead because, according to a committee member, it contained 'no Iranian spices'. Talk about pigeonholing. A pointed article that evokes indignation but also sees new opportunities.

After more failed attempts - a friend advised Nia to put on a headscarf when she had to explain another plan - she debuted in 2023 with That afternoon. In it, she draws partly from her own experience as an immigrant for a creatively crafted story about the refugee situation in our country. An imagination that is at once wry, poetic and hopeful.

In her article, she sees a new cultural landscape in the making. 'Who could have dreamt that a Bosnian-born director would make a film about the colonial era in Indonesia (Sweet Dreams by Ena Sendijarević),' she writes. She sees Makers of Colour as a refreshing wind that allows the once monochrome Dutch film world to flourish. An enrichment. 'This is how we break through the walls of existing pigeonholes.'

Digital Film Yearbook

Whether each time the new edition of the Film Yearbook manages to make ends meet financially is often tense. Therefore, it was good news that Beerekamp was able to introduce the VandenEnde Foundation as a new partner. The other partners are Eye Filmmuseum, the Geoffrey Donaldson Institute and the Fuurland/de Filmkrant Foundation.

And then there is that question that pops up like a kind of running gag every year: what about the digitisation of the Film Yearbook? Because as nice as it is that the Film Yearbook bravely keeps up the paper version, at some point something digital will have to come. Indeed, hard work has been underway for some time now on an online version where all dates and articles can be found from the very beginning. A veritable treasure chest it promises to be.

At the moment, the website and database are already built, but a lot of data needs to be checked and entered before it can be unveiled. A huge job. Expanding the team and checking the data are now the main tasks. Mariska Graveland (editor-in-chief and organisation Film Yearbook) does not expect the launch to happen this year already. "And," she reassures fans, "the book will also remain.

The Film Yearbook 2023/2024 is produced by Stichting Filmuitgaven and published by Amsterdam University Press. 336 pages, full-colour, ISBN 9789048565702, price €32.99

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Leo Bankersen

Leo Bankersen has been writing about film since Chinatown and Night of the Living Dead. Reviewed as a freelance film journalist for the GPD for a long time. Is now, among other things, one of the regular contributors to De Filmkrant. Likes to break a lance for children's films, documentaries and films from non-Western countries. Other specialities: digital issues and film education.View Author posts

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