Toespraak minister Van Engelshoven bij opening International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA)
Minister Van Engelshoven sprak bij de opening van het International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), op 18 november 2020, te Amsterdam. De tekst is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar.
[Let op: het gesproken woord geldt!]
In recent months I have spoken to a lot of people by camera, and listened to many others talking on screen. But this is a very surreal experience indeed!
No buzz of expectation in a packed cinema, where the excited audience is waiting for the lights to dim. And no busy corridors and cafés where filmmakers get together to discuss plans for new projects. Instead, you are probably watching this opening night at home, from all over the world.
And I am standing here, in an almost abandoned Tuschinski theatre in the heart of Amsterdam, looking at hundreds of empty red seats.
A painful illustration of the impact of the pandemic...
At the same time, as Minister of Culture, I am incredibly proud and happy that IDFA is still able to go ahead this year. Here, live, in dozens of Dutch cinemas, and online, in thousands of living rooms across the globe.
I am incredibly proud and happy that IDFA is still able to go ahead this year.
The whole IDFA team deserves a big round of applause for this remarkable achievement. As do all of the professionals who worked on the many documentaries that will be shown in the coming weeks.
I understand how difficult it is to carry on working at present,
and how much uncertainty the pandemic is causing. I have enormous admiration and appreciation for your resilience and perseverance.
That is why, in my role as Minister of Culture, I am doing my very best to keep the film sector, and the cultural sector as a whole, on its feet.
The Dutch government has pledged over one and a half billion euros in extra funding to the cultural sector during this crisis. Thanks to that investment, we have been able to help many film institutions and film professionals:
- for example, by investing nearly 50 million euros in independent professionals, including professionals in the film sector;
- by extending the pilot for high-end TV-series, as part of the Netherlands Film Production Incentive, with an additional 6 million euros;
- and by giving a further 6 million euros to cover the costs that film producers are facing due to the measures designed to combat Covid-19.
- In addition, 10 million euros will be made available to cover the risks run by the insurers of film productions during this pandemic.
The Dutch government has pledged over one and a half billion euros in extra funding to the cultural sector during this crisis.
It is my strong belief that these investments are crucial and valuable. It is essential that films and documentaries continue to be made and shown.
As a consolation in these tough times, of course. But for me, their significance goes deeper.
Now, when we are forced to limit our movements, documentaries allow us to travel through time and space. They offer stories that bring us closer to other people, to unknown worlds and to new ideas.
These stories are of vital importance. Especially in times like these,
when disinformation and filter bubbles encourage us to look at the unknown with suspicion, and seek to divide us.
Yet what we need is to feel connected.And to acknowledge that, as Oscar Wilde wrote, “the truth is rarely pure and never simple”.
Now more than ever, we need the unifying power of culture,
and the nuance and new perspectives that documentaries offer us. Like the story of Mateo in the opening film Nothing but the Sun, who uses an old cassette recorder to tape the stories of his vanishing culture. Or the story of Khavaj in Silent Voice, a young martial arts fighter who fled his country to go into hiding, because of his sexual orientation. A man so traumatized that he has lost his voice.
Through their eyes we discover a new perspective on the world,
on our fellow human beings, and on ourselves.
Now more than ever, we need the unifying power of culture, and the nuance and new perspectives that documentaries offer us.
In the coming weeks, the stories of IDFA will enlighten countless living rooms all over the world.
It is a real honour for me to officially open this wonderful event here today.
I wish you all, wherever you are right now, a truly inspiring festival.