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The 1990s


In addition to Verhoeven, a number of ‘artistic’ film makers emerged who attracted a good deal of attention at the major international film festivals. Orlow Seunke, Jos Stelling and Alex van Warmerdam introduced a New Dutch Cinema with De Smaak van Water (1982), De Wisselwachter (1986) and The Northerners (1992): theatrically stylised productions with little dialogue and an abundance of dryly absurd humour and surrealistic scenes.

The commercial malaise of the 1990s created a space for young film makers who wanted to make a new kind of film with little money but a great deal of energy. This generational change began with Robert Jan Westdijk’s refreshing début film Little Sister (1994), an independently financed portrait of young people from Amsterdam that turned into an unexpected international success.

Boosted by a tax measure that made it attractive to invest in film, an increasing number of successful Dutch family films appeared in the 1990s. Old-fashioned children’s books such as Little Crumb and Peter Bell formed the foundation for the nostalgic box office successes of Maria Peters, while producer Burny Bos scored hits with The Flying Liftboy and Undercover Kitty: fantasy-filled interpretations of the much-loved children’s books by Annie M.G. Schmidt.

The withdrawal of the tax measure in 2007 (which had been come under heavy criticism) did not lead to the collapse of the Dutch film industry. The Netherlands Film Fund, the successor to the earlier Production Fund, managed to find a good balance between popular films, art house films, animation and documentaries, with a relatively small subsidy of 35 million Euros.