Dutch-German funds to deliver pix

'Bell' to ring later this year

COLOGNE — A Dutch and German film-funding cooperation is close to bearing first fruits, with two Dutch productions ready to hit theaters this year.

The largest project, a film version of popular Dutch children’s book “Pietje Bell,” will bow later this year on 130 screens, the same number as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” in the Netherlands.

The film’s budget is e5 million ($4.9 million), of which $1.5 million came from the two funds. According to producers Hans Pos and Thomas Eckelkamp, distribution in the Benelux countries will be handled by Buena Vista Intl.

Ready this month is youth drama “Oysters at Nam Kee’s” on 90 screens. Kids drama “Sea of Silence” is scheduled to hit the theaters early next year, and coming-of-age drama “Super Tex” is in pre-production. All projects are Dutch-lingo pics.

Two years ago, the Netherlands’ national fund Stichting Nederlands Fonds voor de Film and Germany’s largest state fund, Filmstiftung NRW, merged the requirements for their subsidies to give filmmakers from both sides of the fence more production freedom.

Only half the amount granted by either side needs to be spent on production in the state or country where the money originates, the other half across the border.

For Dutch filmmakers, the agreement provides a cushion for hardships created by recent changes in taxation, according to the Dutch fund’s head, Toine Berbers. “Producers are increasingly looking for partners abroad,” Berbers said.

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