This interview had been published in January 2017
What is your occupation now?
I am a film director of short and feature-length documentaries as well as fiction films.
What expertise did you gain at WdKA?
Art School is four years of experimenting, fooling around and total freedom, but I only fully realised this after graduation. I learned that the sky might not even be the limit; you can reach beyond that if you need. WdKA introduced me to some great people, artists, inspiration, different art disciplines (that at first might not have much to do with the film, but later you discover that it has influenced you greatly) and most of all, I learned a lot about myself. WdKA offered me the opportunity to study abroad at the School of Visual Arts in New York City in my third year, this did not only shape me as a maker but became part of who I am today. I guess what I am trying to say, WdKA is an experience that you need to take into the fullest and it will enrich you.
What is the future of your profession in your opinion?
There will always be stories to tell through the film I believe. We, people, are storytellers and film is one great way to do it. To take your audience on a trip, into new worlds they have never encountered or to shed light upon subjects that need attention and otherwise would stay hidden. The film is a powerful medium that will be around for much longer. Of course, there are all kinds of innovative developments in audiovisual design, but we will not lose or forget the art of cinema quickly.
You never leave your house without…? Besides your laptop or smartphone :).
My writing notebook. You never know what you will encounter during the day. Some great thoughts, scenes may pop up in my head or occur right in front of me… I find it helpful to write it all down. Writing activates my brain and from there one small idea can become something bigger.
Any words of advice to future students?
Make the most out of your four years in art school. Reach for the sky, go abroad, experiment and build a network of friends, artists, colleagues around you - it can help you in future. I did both my internships in Amsterdam, in the film industry and it still pays off today. So choose wisely and don’t settle for mediocre.
Name your favourite recent project.
Tough question, every project is different. I learn something different from every project and although it’s always hard and you feel like never starting another film ever again, the next day you find yourself already working on something new. Most recently I made my first mid-length fiction film In Vrijheid and we were nominated for two Golden Calf awards and won one at the Dutch Film Festival. That was a great reward to a year of hard work and it also proved that someone who makes documentary films can do fiction. You can do both and be inspired by both.
Before that, me and two other filmmakers made the short documentary 9 Days – From My Window in Aleppo. This was an urgent and powerful film about the crisis in Syria. With this short documentary, we showed the perspective of a Syrian civilian, a perspective that is often forgotten in western media. It felt powerful, the film gives you that power, it gives people a voice. The film has been shown around the world and heard by many, just as we sat out to do.
In Vrijheid, official poster
Design: Sander Brouwer