Eddy Wijngaarde (76) is a serial entrepreneur; a film and documentary producer, creative director of TBL cinema Paramaribo, producer of Surinam Youth News, and many more ongoing projects. In May 2016 he stayed in the Lloyd Hotel & Cultural Embassy.
How did you get into film production?
I opened my second restaurant called Sancerre in the Reestraat in Amsterdam. Amongst my guests were film and documentary makers like Louis van Gasteren, Leon de Winter, Rudolf van den Berg, René Seghers. I came to know them, got involved in their projects, and when we met and talked about film productions I was always thinking about the business side. Then I was asked to be the director of the first film association of Amsterdam. In 1987 we produced our first film “Looking for Eileen”, directed by Rudolf van den Berg, based on the novel written by Leon de Winter. I did the financing and distribution. In the early 90s I produced two more documentaries called “Siki” and “Battle of the Java Sea”, both directed by Niek Koppen, and two films, “The Flying Dutchman” (a European co-production), and Colpa di Luna.
Why film and documentaries?
I feel attracted to films or documentaries with interesting content. It is a bigger challenge to realise the financing of these projects – I like the complexity. When I was trying to finance the last part to produce “The Flying Dutchman” I took a big risk by showing rough, non-edited film material, images without text, to sales agents during a film festival. It was very unusual at that time, nobody did it, but the images were strong, I believed in them, and thanks to showing these images I managed to get the last financing we needed to round up production.
Which project are you most proud of?
Niek Koppen called me to say he was inspired by a photograph he found on his mother’s desk. A stately picture of his mother’s first husband, an officer in the army in Indonesia. He died in the battle of the Java Sea just after they married. He thought this man might have been my father. Not long after our conversation, back in Surinam, I opened the newspaper and read the article “Battle of the Java Sea”. The phone rang and I said, Niek! Let’s do it! The documentary shows oral stories, survivors of the battle, both Japanese and the Allied forces. To gather these stories Niek Koppen flew all over the world and interviewed 50 survivors. It won the a Gouden Kalf price.
What is the Surinam Youth Journal? How did it start?
The Surinam Youth Journal is a 10-minute journal for children created together with my partner and chief editor Hennah Draaibaar. It is an example pilot for other developing countries. In 2004 I was initially approached by Free Voice ( freepressunlimited.org helps journalists in war and conflict area’s / developing countries to make reliable news) to create this pilot for a Youth Journal in Surinam, Afghanistan and South Africa. The Dutch Youth Journal and the Dutch radio station Wereld Omroep were responsible for training the journalists. In Afghanistan they didn’t want to train female journalists so they couldn’t further develop the pilot there. Despite that, now the Youth Journal News is broadcasted in 14 developing countries.
What brings you to Amsterdam?
There are a couple of projects I am organising now, a film festival in November in Surinam, with documentaries about musicians, so I’m meeting people to finalise the selection of films.
Also, I have set up a school in Surinam for audio visual projects in collaboration with the Grafisch Lyceum in Rotterdam. Another project is in collaboration with the Dutch Film Academy, eight documentaries made by Surinam film makers will be shown in Surinam and hopefully in the Netherlands.