In the news: Asian Dutch about Racism

Martijn van Veen Nieuws

It has already been in the air for some time and now it seems to have reached a fever pitch. This generation of Asian Dutch does not seem to tolerate the daily dose of racism aimed at them. This past week daily racist jokes reached a more blatant level with the spread of the Coronavirus and some white Dutch showing their ignorance by connecting potential contagion to anyone with an Asian skintone. In many cases Asian Dutch, who have been nowhere near the Wuhan region during the outbreak, were at the receiving end of these comments, looks and posturing. Some cases went as far as writing down ‘Sterf Chinezen’ in public spaces or making a ridiculously offensive carnaval song.

This in turn was the boiling point for a few Asian Dutch who have already adressed the largely underlying discrimination. Luckily enough media has been deciding to grant them more attention this time around. This meant that artist Sioejeng Tsao, journalist & author Pete Wu and student Rui Jun Luong were invited to discuss the issue on Dutch Talkshow De Wereld Draait Door

Youtuber Hanwe was interviewed by the Dutch youth news. Pete Wu wrote a guest column for the Volkskracht to vent his frustration. Student Vincent Yeers and head of PAC Hui-Hui Pan started a petition Wij zijn geen virussen and appeared on the Saturday newspaper of Dutch newspaper AD. Hui-Hui Pan and Pete Wu were interviewed for Dutch actuality show EenVandaag.  CinemAsia has also released a public statement on the issue and managing director Shiko Boxman was interviews by AT5.

All in all it seems as if the issue is finally surfacing and is asking white Dutch to reflect on some of their habits, assumptions and privilege. Even if the intention is not meant to be racist, this does not mean it isn’t. It’s also not necessarily about an individual incident but the combined weight of all different instances of discrimination, racism or exclusion. We hope the verbalisation by all these people will contribute to more understanding and empathy and to move the needle on this issue.

What do you think? Do you think this extra exposure and attention will help this issue? Have you been affected by any racism concerning the Coronavirus?


CinemAsia on NOS Journaal

Daan Vree Nieuws

CinemAsia’s managing director Shiko Boxman has been interviewed by the Dutch news after the Oscar for best film going to the film Parasite. The Korean film by director Bong Joon Ho also has become the most visited Asian film in the Netherlands. In the short interview Shiko speaks about the rising popularity of Asian films in the west.

You can see the news broadcast with the short interview here. The item begins at 11.10 and is in Dutch


Festival Strategy for your FilmLAB Short

André Kloer Tip

Last year, four short documentaries have been produced within CinemAsia FilmLAB. After their premieres at the CinemAsia Film Festival the question arises: what to do next? As the maker of one of those documentaries, Holding Silence, the amount of festivals I could choose from overwhelmed me. Where to start and how to spend money to entry fees wisely? For that reason, I submitted my documentary to Docs 4 Sale at IDFA. Not to sell my documentary, but to gain access to the industry program of the festival, and the informative talks and expert meetings. One of the talks gave me exactly what I was looking for: Festival Strategy for Short Film, by Wouter Jansen and Marija Milovanovic. Apart from being programmers at Go Short Nijmegen, they help filmmakers with the distribution of their short film. Their added value to a successful festival run is hard to overestimate, in terms of their valuable network, as well as financially; if they submit films to festivals, 80% of the fees are waved. Nevertheless, Jansen assured the audience of the talk that it can be done by filmmakers themselves, too. The strategy includes 10 steps.

Step 1: Know your film

Whom are you making this film for? What is its genre? What is the length? Jansen warns not to cheat the length to make your film fit the submission requirements. For Go Short Nijmegen the maximum required length is 30 minutes, so if the submitted film is actually 32 or 33 minutes, it will be found out and not even been watched.

This step is in fact also a quality check and feedback should be taken very seriously. Not from friends or family, but from professionals, even when it is cruel feedback. Their feedback will help you judge the best fitted festival strategy for your film.

Step 2: Know what to achieve

Do you want your film be represented at a lot of festivals, or only at the best – Oscar Qualifying or EFA nominee – festivals? Or are you immediately aiming for an online release, and the wider audience that comes with it? When these answers are clear, you can decide the way of your film. Bear in mind the difference between US and Europe. European festivals have a different financial base than festivals in the US, where they depend more on the entry fees, and so these fees are much higher. They start with 45 dollars and up. It would sat you back 1500 dollars if you would go for all American A-list festivals, so you need to make a selection. While in Europe fees are much lower. Go Short Nijmegen is an Oscar qualifying and EFA nominee festival, but charges only 17 dollar for international films. The national ones even don’t pay anythings.

Going for the established festivals may or may not be the right choice. Jansen had an Eastern European short. The filmmaker wanted to submit to the established Sarajevo festival. But from Jansen’s perspective DokuFest in Kosovo would have done more for the film, as a lot curators and programmers present there would have seen it. You have to decide for yourself if you would like to go for the name or for the smaller festival that is better for the film.

Step 3: Know where to premiere

In the case of our FilmLab productions, the world premiere was given to CinemAsia. But assuming you want to go for the big and established festivals. For short documentaries it is a difficult route. Venice even didn’t have any short documentaries in competition this year. Moreover, these festivals are difficult to enter anyway. Sundance had 11.000 submissions and selected only 78 films this year. More than half of those are US films, meaning only 30 are international titles. On top of this, timing is key. This means you have to think of it in an early stage; if your film is finished in June, it can be sent to summer festivals. A documentary can be aimed at IDFA later in the year, or Dok Leipzig. If all these festivals say no, you could aim at Berlinale. If that festival says no, you may wait for Cannes in May.

The expiration date of a film after its first premiere is usually 1,5 to 2 years. Some festivals only accept films not older than 1 year. So, you have to do the big festivals in this period. Only after that period, submit your film to smaller festivals. Fortunately, a film is only finished when it premieres. If you would have now a film finishing, and the premiere is half a year later, then that is the real finishing date. Jansen kept films on the side like this for even a year. However, often it isn’t worth the waiting, and you get more from playing different festivals, especially for shorts. He has now a Serbian-Croatian production, that would be ideal for Sarajevo. But that is a festival only half a year from now, so that would have meant that the film couldn’t be screened anywhere in that region because of the Sarajevo premiere requirements up to that moment.

Alternatively, you can send your film to any festival. A premiere on a big festival is not always necessary for having a good festival run. Last year, Jansen had a film submitted as a premiere to a small short film festival in Switzerland, while some of the A-list festivals where requesting that film. He decided to go for the Swiss festival after all, where he knew there would be a lot of short film industry present, and he didn’t want to wait too long to have that premiere. In the end, it didn’t impact the success of the festival run at all; it was later screened at the A-list festivals IDFA, Hot Docs, Slamdance, Clermont-Ferrand and 120 other festivals. So, depending on each case, a festival can push your film, but at the other hand also not.

Step 4: Find and categorise other festivals

The next question is: how to find and select other festivals? Programmers of festivals often say to filmmakers: ‘Look at our selection, then you know if your film is fitting for our festival.’ But that is according to Milovanovic difficult for a starting filmmaker, because how should you know what that means? She would suggest instead to look for what kind of films are being made in your own surrounding and what selection do these films have? If these films are similar in topic or style, than it does make sense to also submit there. Also, when you are traveling to festivals for watching films, write down the titles of films that are like yours. Then you can see where these films travel.

When you have all the festivals listed where you want to submit to, you should then categorise these festivals. Because some of them request national or regional premieres. So, you should mark which festival comes first. It may mean that you have to keep your film back from other festivals for a while. However, when it comes to shorts on smaller festivals, Jansen actually tries not to care too much about the premiere status.

Another option is to find festivals on the submission platforms. Festivals are there as well, so you can submit to a lot of festivals easily. However, Milovanovic highly recommends not to make a strategy based on what you find on submission platforms. Do it the other way around: Think of the festivals first, and then go to the platforms where the festivals are and submit there. It can be quite inviting to go on Filmfreeway, Shortfilmdepot, Filmfestplatform or Festhome and see the approaching deadlines, and think: I should submit to all of these. This is in fact keeping you away from the strategy you have. Some filmmakers even filter on ‘no submission fee’ and click everything. That’s not a strategy at all. Because festivals that are present on online platforms get a lot more submissions than festivals that aren’t. That’s why festivals like Sundance get so many submissions, diminishing your changes to be selected.

Step 5: Be well prepared

When one of his films was selected for Sundance, Jansen had to deliver everything within one day, so he advises to have your press kit in order as soon as your film is finished. When choosing stills, bear in mind that they should also be attractive when printed in a small catalogue. If you have a great image, festivals will push that image more than images from other films, they may even use it to portray the whole short section of the festival. A poster and trailer on the other hand, don’t do anything for selection of shorts. Why watching a trailer of a minute if I can watch the complete film of 10 minutes? But for audience engagement it can help. Some filmmakers put the laurels in front of the film. As a programmer, Milovanovic don’t care about that, when selecting for Go Short.

As distributor, Jansen has all the material of the films in his current catalogue online, each in a separate Dropbox folder. So if he is on the road and get a call, he can send all information about his films immediately. It surprises him how few filmmakers realise the importance of this. When he is scouting films for Go Short in other festivals, in 60 to 70 percent of the cases the filmmakers are online unfindable. So it is important that you have some kind of online presence, even when it is just an email address and a still.

Step 6: Submit

If you submit, it is important to read the regulations. Obviously, look for the deadlines, sections in the festival, premiere requirements and award money, but also for questionable rules that some festivals may have. For example, do they ask for the online rights? Milovanovic would not submit to those. In China there is a big festival that take television rights. Some festivals ask rights for screening it for ever. So always read regulation. Even respected festivals can change regulations; Jansen had a film selected, and then the festival said: ‘If you win, it will be on Mubi. But were we getting paid for this? Moreover, the film still had a lot of festivals coming up, requiring national premieres. Concerning that premiere status: festivals always double check its status. If your film is no longer eligible any more in a specific region, it will always come out.

An early submission is what may have influence on a successful selection of your film. Milovanovic knows that programmers will become more stressed later in the selection, when more and more films arrive and they have to watch films 6 hours in a row. However, if a late deadline is the result of a film that is not jet finished, it means that your film is super new. For bigger festivals – eager to having premieres – a late deadline is in such a case no issue (particularly when it concerns shorts which are easier to program). Just email the programmers about it, they will understand it, and look out for your film. You can always send a picture locked version when the deadline approaches, and send the final version later.

Even if you don’t have a finished film jet, go to the festivals and meet the industry, just to let them know you have something coming up, and reach out to programmers of festivals where you want your film to be screened.

Step 7: Get selected

Be critical of festivals: have you been selected inside, or outside competition? Out of competition are often older films, or may be thematic films. In competition are films programmers are watching for their own upcoming festival, because those are the newest films that are premiering. Those are also considered the favourites of the selection committee. So out of competition doesn’t have the added value of people that are important for you film seeing it. The competition is also the program that get pushed a bit more. So, if you are out of competition try to ask for something in return, maybe a screening fee. It could also be that in return they ask you to come to the festival and that they offer you hotel nights.

Step 8: Be present at festivals

Festivals can be very hectic. Stay calm and be yourself, is the advice of Milovanovic and Jansen. A lot of festivals send out guest lists. Check these, to see which programmers you would like to meet. Have business cards and flyers at hand, and make sure all info is on them, like screening dates, if you would like to invite them. At festivals are a lot of industry events: panels, talks and workshops. Going to these events, and meeting and staying in contact with the people can be very helpful for your network. And don’t forget to watch films: for inspiration, but also for connecting with fellow filmmakers.

Step 9: Go online

Selling a short is difficult. Online, however, are some possibilities. Jansen was able to sell shorts to platforms like the Guardian, Topic and OP-Docs. He got a few thousand dollars for them. If your film has won one or more awards, or if it is better known, than usually the money is more. But depending on the rights, any price can be reasonable. OP-Docs is keeping the rights forever, but deals with Topic are only valid for two years, non-exclusive. Apart from money, platforms are important for reaching an audience. Jansen had a film that wasn’t selected for Sundance, but he wanted the film to reach a wide audience in the US. For that reason OP-Doc was the right platform. The film went also to the Atlantic, a platform that doesn’t pay at all, but generate a lot of exposure. An online release doesn’t necessarily cause issues for shorts in the middle of a festival run, if the films is good enough.

Step 10: Make a next film

Every filmmaker with a successful film have made a lot of mistakes. Both Jansen and Milovanovic have made mistakes too, when they started out. In your next film you can correct all these mistakes and reconnect with all the people that you met before and of whom you know they liked your film. Just write to them: ‘Hey I know you liked my film’ or ‘We met there and then’. Make use of everything you heard during the previous festival experiences.

Sioejeng Tsao & Julie Ng discuss daily racism on Radio 1

Martijn van Veen Nieuws, Opinie, Tip

Artist and activist Sioejeng Tsao and documentary maker and part of the platform Meer dan Babi Pangang Julie Ng speak with presenter Renze Klamer on Radio 1 about the growing daily racism towards the Asian community in the midst of the Corona virus outbreak in China. Sioejeng and Julie think the Asian community has to make a fist to fight this casual racism.

Look here for the broadcast. The broadcast is in Dutch.



FilmLAB Films Screening During Chinese New Year

Martijn van Veen CinemAsia Update, FilmLAB Screening

Chinese New year, also refered to as the spring festival, is celebrated for about fifteen days, but in the Permeke library in Antwerp a program of three weeks has been created to celebrate the Chinese New year.

On January 19, 2020, from 12.0o to 14.00 CinemAsia will sscreen a selection of their shortfilms with amongst others Last Minute Tea, Carve Out en Father & Son. So drop by and enjoy these films.

For an overview of all further activities and events, click here.

Jam Session Review

Daan Vree Nieuws

Recently 6 filmmakers gathered to participate in the first ever FilmLAB Jam session, a creative session where filmmakers get the chance to inspire each other and advance their filmplan.

A divers group of ex-FilmLAB participants had gathered at the CinemAsia office at the Volkshotel in Amsterdam. Some came by bike, others flied in from London and yet another participant skyped in from Hong Kong.

To make the session as effective as possible, the participants had reviewed each others filmplans and had gathered their thoughts. The phase the projects were in varied greatly, there was a plan for a documentary with an atmospheric montage for reference, while another wanted feedback on their script for a short film.

The six submitted projects were:

  • Her Wayside wedding: the exciting filmplan from Ami Tsang who’s filming her wedding in Hong Kong in the midst of the protests.
  • Mimi & Botti: a feature documentary from André Kloer about the love between a woman and her gibbon monkey, already in production.
  • (Up)Rooted: The feature filmplan from Jung Sun Den Hollander about a succesful, Korean executive who is confronted with a secret from her past .
  • The Girl with the Green scarf:  A film Outline from Roshni Oedit about a Hindu girls’ struggle for autonomy.
  • Renunciation of My Past:  The initial filmplan from Rinky Kalsy about the exodus of the Punjab population
  • Honeycomb: A filmscript from Haider Hussain that he developed in the CinemAsia writersroom of 2019.

It was an inspiring session where all participants gave each other interesting feedback. Lots of questions were posed about each others stories, plans and montage. By asking all these questions often the motivation and intention of the maker and the theme behind the project became clearer and that in turn lead to more effective or deeper storytelling. Also practical tips were shared: wether about putting a crew together or writing to certain funds.


Jam Sessions

CinemAsia regularly organises Jam Sessions to which FilmLAB alumni can register. Are you working on an idea or filmplan, montage, distribution plan or audiovisual project you would like to receive feedback on from other filmmakers in the community and the filmlab producers? Let us know!

2 FilmLAB Shorts @ Short Movie Sunday

Martijn van Veen FilmLAB Screening, FilmLAB Update

The Short Movie Sunday is back at Volkshotel where a selection of short films curated by the broedplaats, Cineville, Doka, Lab 111, De Nederlandse Filmacademie en Pluk de Nacht will be screened throughout the hotel and incubator. This year’s edition of Short Movie Sunday will be on six floors in collaboration with six different movie curators. From an outdoor cinema with Pluk de Nacht on the rooftop to music videos curated by Philou Louzolo in the basement. Kick back, relax on our comfy beds and wander through the corridors of Volkshotel and find rooms packed with shorts.This evening will contain the CinemAsia FilmLAB short films Unicorn Cat & Hirofumi’s Suitcase. So drop by and come watch their shorts!

– Sunday 15 December
– 15:00 – 21:00
– Pre-sale €11 incl. service costs (Cineville pass holders get a 50% discount)
– Door-sale €12.50

– Tickets give you an all-access pass to see all screenings
– You are free to put together your own program. All screenings will be played throughout the duration of the event (15:00-21:00). If it’s too busy, you are able to come back on a later time
– Doors are closed during the screening
– English subs (if available)
– You can take drinks bought at Volkshotel with you on your route

Get your tickets here

48 Hour CIneKid

Team CinemAsians wins @ 48 Hour Cinekid!

Daan Vree FilmLAB Update

On October 13, 2019 the CinemAsians team received 4 awards for their short film ‘Betrapt’ at the 48 Hour Cinekid Festival.

The team was created as an iniative of CinemAsia FilmLAB’s Alumni program. The team participated in the 48 Hour Project of Cinekid Film Festival during the weekend of 11 to 13 of October. The team consisted of CinemAsia FilmlAB Alumni and people who have collaborated before on one or more CinemAsia (film)projects

Diverse team

Most crewmembers have an Asian background. This was also the case for a majority of the cast. The three 9 year old actrices were Ishani Markus (Javanese, Indian and Dutch roots), Disha Doekharan (Javanese, Guyanese and Indian roots) and Emma Simons (Turkish and Dutch roots). This project was their very first experience with film acting.

The initial outset for the composition of the team was accesibility. Both more experienced and less experienced crewmembers joined the film production. For instance a 15 year old crewmember thuroughly enjoyed working with adults and a (deafmute) crewmember learned how to clap while the team tried to communicate with handgestures. Sharing expertise and coaching were central during this weekend. Put a groups of creative forces together, all with their own expertise, and it created an energetic and great atmosphere that lead to a great final product.

Betrapt filmposter

Award winning filmposter

Climate Change
“Betrapt” is a short film with footing in reality. Climate change is something that this generation of children is actively discussing at school. The scene in the film where the young Zoë steals her sister Noah’s tooth to collect money to make some positive change is based on a true story. The fairytale narrative was artifully combined with vlog imagery and has a larger message: Be nice to each other. Positive behaviour will be rewarded.

The jury members enjoyed the film. They gifted the film “Betrapt” the award for “Best Writing”:

“A funny and original story, the scenario was well constructed, the story was round. It’s a sweet and small story with a larger message. The jury is impressed with the nice combination of elements and the genre (fairytale/comedy) of the scenario. And all that in a mere 48 hours”

Behind the scenes

Achter de schermen bij de opnames van “Betrapt!”

A special mention was given to Ishani Markus in the category ‘Best actress’. The jury really enjoyed her joyful and spontaneous vlogsfilms in the film. They jury even asked Ishani to please keep vlogging. One jurymember already pledged to follow her! And to cap it all of the films also won the award for ‘Best Poster’ and ‘Best Art Direction”


text: Roshnie Markus-Oedit, director of “Betrapt”

Roshnie Markus-Oedit was a participant of CinemAsia FilmLAB. In 2014 she wrote and directed the short film “Forbidden Love” and a year before she was production director of the short film “Bundah di Rumah” by Raoul Groothuizen. She also is active as a member of the CinemAsia Alumni Newsroom.  Would you also like to share an article? Then send a message to Daan Vree, FilmLAB Alumni Coördinator at



Podcast: Sandra Beerends about her film ‘They Call me Baby’

Martijn van Veen Nieuws, Tip

Director and mentor of FilmLAB Shorts 2014 Sandra Beerends has directed the beautiful documentary film They Call me Babu: a film telling the story of a babu taking care of her dutch colonial family recounting her life, dreams and struggles in the first half of the 20th century. In a VPRO Podcast she share more about this documentary.

Click here to listen to the podcast. It is in Dutch!