Animation World Magazine, Issue 2.10, January 1998

The Netherlands Institute for Animation Film

by Erik van Drunen & Mette Peters

Ateliers participant, Liesbeth Worm, working on her film
Tempera (1997). Photo courtesy of and © NIAf.
Ateliers participant, Liesbeth Worm, working on her film  Tempera (1997). Photo courtesy of NIAf.  Liesbeth Worm.
Since 1993 the Netherlands can boast a unique institute of art. On September 17, 1993, Hedy d'Ancona, then Minister of Culture, officially opened the Netherlands Institute for Animation Film (NIAf). The NIAf was established to improve the infrastructure for animated film in the Netherlands, both for the director's film (artistic film) and for specially-commissioned films (commercial film). Dutch animated film is currently enjoying an increased level of exposure, both within its national borders and especially abroad.

Our Mission
The NIAf hopes to realize its' objectives in a number of ways. The means used to achieve this are inextricably interlinked through the Ateliers, our studio, exhibitions, education, research, distribution, collection, archives and promotion. Given the developments in both Europe and farther afield, the NIAf is looking beyond its national borders and seeking cooperation and partnerships with people, organizations and festivals across the entire globe! Because promotion is such an important element, the NIAf has close contacts with the Holland Animation Film Festival, as well as with the professional association Holland Animation, Holland Film, the Association of Dutch Film Theatres, several Dutch audio-visual archives, foreign festivals and study programs.

A Stimulating Place to Work
The NIAf Ateliers offer young talented animators an opportunity to study animation for two years, and strive to be a stimulating workshop for talented filmmakers.

Participants are selected on the basis of a project which they hope to create while at the Ateliers, their motivation and their previous work. The Ateliers are explicitly not a training institute. Consequently, participants must already be familiar with the production process of animation film. The Ateliers are a place where participants can further broaden their skills in terms of content and on technical and production levels so that, on leaving, they are thoroughly equipped to work as independent entrepreneurs who can produce commercial as well as artistic work. Students are supervised by renowned animators and people who have won their spurs in other art disciplines. The chosen supervisors have backgrounds in diverse art disciplines because animation film is an art form which is strongly related to other forms of art, such as drama, choreography, visual arts, film and music. Mutual interchange between participants is part of the Ateliers' philosophy. Five participants are currently working at the NIAf, which offers all the facilities required to make both 2-D and 3-D 35mm animation films.

Sientje by Christa Moesker (1997), made at
the NIAf Atelier.Photo courtesy of and © NIAf
Sientje by Christa Moesker (1997), made at  the NIAf Atelier.  Christa Moesker.

The NIAf follows developments within new media as closely as possible. Soundtracks and effects are produced in association with studios specializing in these fields. The first three films made in the Ateliers were completed in 1997. One of these, Sientje by Christa Moesker, won the award for the Best Short Dutch Film at the 1997 Netherlands Film Festival.

Workshops and Education
Workshops are organized for both professionals and amateurs in an attempt to raise the quality and improve the reputation of Dutch animation films. In the future, in addition to the Ateliers for animators, the NIAf plans to train specific producers in the art of animation film. The NIAf considers children to be an important target group and therefore, organizes workshops for primary school children and believes that animated film should form part of the artistic education syllabus. In conjunction with various universities in the Netherlands, the NIAf is establishing research projects which are intended to provide information on animation film in relation to the history of art, communication, information technology and business management. The NIAf also offers practical training to students who wish to examine a particular aspect of animation film in more detail.

In 1997 the NIAf organized the 9th Society for Animation Studies Conference which was held in the Netherlands. This was the first time that the international, scientific conference was held in a non-English speaking country. The number of European speakers was greater than ever. Following on from this, the NIAf wishes to continue to stimulate scientific research in European animated film.

Archived Collections
The Netherlands Institute for Animation Film houses a sizable collection of films, books, documentation and art work. A part of the film collection is used for distribution. University researchers and art academy students make frequent use of the books and documentation available.

The collections have been brought together predominately thanks to the efforts of a number of industrious, private collectors. A special place is reserved for the collection of the Vereniging Holland Animation (VHA), the professional association of Dutch Animation filmmakers which was established in 1983.

There are more than one hundred box files full of cuttings, documentation, interviews, photographs and art work. Part of the collection comprises correspondence, minutes and administration from the VHA itself. Most of the collection, however, has been brought together thanks to private study, such as the VHA news bulletin and publications like Tien Jaar Holland Animation (1983) and Joop Geesink: Poppenfilmproducent (1984) by Ati Mul and Tjitte de Vries. The library houses many hundreds of books and magazines. A large part of the collection was amassed by Gerrit van Dijk, and includes a number of antiquarian books on the history of Dutch film. The library also has an up-to-date cuttings archive and a modest collection of videotapes. Original drawings, cels, puppets and three-dimensional objects from animation films form another collection housed by the NIAf. This original art work is highly suitable for use in exhibitions and educational projects. Both small and large exhibitions can be organized on a variety of themes. The NIAf houses objects from the entire history of Dutch animation film; from modern film makers such as Paul Driessen and Maarten Koopman, to the studios of Marten Toonder and Joop Geesink. A sizable part of this collection was brought together in 1985 for the touring exhibition "Animation In The Netherlands." This exhibition was organized by Nico Crama for the Holland Animation Foundation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A production photograph from The Story Of Light (1953), a
commercial for General Electric. Animator Joszef Misik at
work. Jan Bouwman behind the camera. Decors by Ko
Brautigam. Art direction by Jan Coolen en Henk Kabos.
Photo courtesy of NIAf.
A production photograph from The Story Of Light (1953), a  commercial for General Electric. Animator Joszef Misik at  work. Jan Bouwman behind the camera. Decors by Ko  Brautigam. Art direction by Jan Coolen en Henk Kabos.  Photo courtesy of NIAf.
Distribution of Films
For years Cilia van Dijk was the driving force behind Stichting Animated People (STAP), distributor of animation film in the Netherlands. The collection and activities of STAP were handed over to the NIAf in 1993. The collection was comprised predominantly of 16mm films, but the present acquisition and distribution policy of the NIAf now concentrates on 35mm. The total film collection now contains some four hundred film titles. Most of these are Dutch films, but the collection also includes classics by Emile Cohl, Walt Disney, Renzo Kinoshita and Norman McLaren.

The films are sent to festivals, cinemas, academies and schools and are generally suitable for viewing by projector. The NIAf is therefore striving for film theaters to reinstatement the screening of short films either alone or as compilations. In this context the NIAf is cooperating with a number of cinemas with artistic programming. Compilations are based on theme, genre or technique. In addition, the compositions are being made in video format. Although the NIAf's collections are constantly being added to, through donations from animators for example, hardly any active collection management takes place for the simple reason that the NIAf does not have sufficient manpower. NIAf's policy with regard to acquisition, management, conservation and the archives is still in its infancy. On the whole, the objective is to keep a representative film collection and library paying special attention to past and present Dutch animation film. For example, a database with information on Dutch animation film is being developed. The NIAf would very much like to collaborate on the further establishment of policy for the management of its own collection. This contribution may perhaps stimulate the exchange of experiences and ideas with other institutes which manage animation collections.

A glimpse of the film archives.
Photo courtesy of NIAf.
A glimpse of the film archives. Photo courtesy of NIAf.

Contact Details
The library and various collections are accessible to all interested parties.

The NIAf is within walking distance of the NS central railway station in Tilburg. Willem 2 straat is a side street of Spoorlaan, the street on which the station is located.

The Netherlands Institute for Animation Film, Willem 2 straat 47, P.O. Box 9358, 5000 HJ, Tilburg, The Netherlands
Phone: +31 13 535 45 55
Fax: +31 13 580 00 57

Erik van Drunen studied animation film and photography at the Academy for Visual Design in Tilburg, the Netherlands. Since 1992 he has been associated with the Holland Animation Film Festival as programme assistant and since 1993 as project staff member at the Netherlands Institute for Animation Film. He is a member of the Board of the Holland Animation Association and assists the association with its publications.

Mette Peters is an animation historian. She publishes and teaches animation history. She is programme assistant for the Holland Animation Film Festival and she is developing a Dutch Animation Film filmography for the Netherlands Institute for Animation Film.

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