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Home » A conversation with Marc Wes from ABN AMRO

A conversation with Marc Wes from ABN AMRO

QFFU is made possible by a group of enthusiastic volunteers with a great love for film, but without sponsors we would be nowhere. This year, ABN AMRO is one of the major sponsors. This makes it possible for us to organize the new Queer Villa program and the 10 Minute Challenge. The bank considers QFFU a good party to work with, and that feeling is mutual.

ABN AMRO is working hard to raise awareness about diversity and inclusion within the company and supports various campaigns, organizations and, in this case, film festivals. This is partly done by Pride+, the internal organization for LGBTQIA+ employees. And partly by their internal consultants for diversity and inclusion. They do the work professionally and the Pride+ directors do it in addition to their regular work for the bank. Pride+ events always have a different look and feel, but the premise is the same: increasing acceptance and support queer initiatives.


Marc Wes is a member of the Pride+ board and has been working with the bank for fifteen years. He lives in Utrecht and is pleased that the bank is involved in this year’s Queer Film Festival in Utrecht. Recently they have also been involved with the Rotterdam Pride, the Amsterdam Dinner and within the company they regulary collaborate with parties such as Hivos and Workplace Pride. They organize lectures and activities, and contribute annually to a so-called ‘learning week’. In that week, the focus is on the entire LGBTQIA+ spectrum. It also deals with prejudice that employees have had to deal with. This is partly intended as education and also helps everyone deal with customers in a more respectful way. It also ensures that the atmosphere on the floor improves and people understand each other better.

Support for culture

That attitude naturally fits quite well with the philosophy of the QFFU. Besides gender and sexual identity, this film festival is of course also about films. Pride+ already has experience with another queer film festival and film is therefore definitely a good match. Marc : “A lot of people from our team, and certainly in the board of Pride+, are movie lovers. We can all be found in the cinema quite often. In that respect, this is a nice coincidence. Besides, a festival is also a pleasant place to get together with our members and ‘allies’. You run into each other inbetween programs and it’s a nice, approachable way to bring attention to queer experience in the broadest sense.”

Inclusive workplace

The latter, of course, works both ways. ABN AMRO’s sponsorship puts a spotlight on our film programming, but the bank also shows that it is an LGBTQIA+-friendly workplace and that the company is very involved in the subject. Marc: “We are not only busy with the subject around Pride, but devote attention to it throughout the year. We have signed the Amsterdam declaration and are periodically surveyed by Workplace Pride, in order to continue to improve. Ultimately, we want to send out the message that everyone is welcome here and that you can be yourself as an ABN AMRO employee. Research shows that companies that embrace inclusiveness are better able to retain customers and employees.”

A stage for young artists

In addition, the Queer Film Festival Utrecht is of course an excellent opportunity to put young talent in the spotlight. ABN AMRO is very happy to support this. At the festival, we created a mini festival within the festival especially for this: Queer Villa. Queer Villa will take place at Villa Concordia from 24 to 28 August. Part of this new sub-program is the new 10 Minute Challenge, in which young makers can show their own short film. The makers were selected this spring and guided by QFFU in the production of their first film project.

Another reason for the bank to sponsor the Queer Film Festival Utrecht is that the initiative is, in contrast to many other sponsored projects, such a local project. The film program is spread over numerous cinemas throughout the city. There is something to see in every neighborhood, and that way we reach a lot more people who would otherwise not know where to find a film festival. ABN AMRO intends to focus on more cities than Amsterdam, where its headquarters are located. “As a bank we have clients all over the country, but because of the location of our headquarters a lot still happens in the capital. We would like to go out into the country more, especially with Pride+. This will be our first step in Utrecht, and we are very much looking forward to the festival.”