Hans Heijnen was born in 1957 in Sittard, the Netherlands. HAVO at Sint Maartenscollege Maastricht 1975. State Exam VWO in 1979. In 1981, after studying political science in Nijmegen, he enrolled at the Film Academy in Amsterdam, from which he graduated in 1985. Heijnen has written several screenplays for EAFA and First Floor Features, and from 1988 he has been active as a freelance documentary filmmaker for leading Dutch Public TV networks, including NOS/NPS and VPRO.
He received awards for several of his documentaries. In 1996, after two earlier nominations, three of his documentaries were awarded the Golden Calf Special Jury Prize at the Netherlands Film Festival. In 1999 his documentary Lisdoonvarna, Lourdes of Love won the Silver Spire Award at the San Francisco International Film Festival. One year later the Netherlands Film Festival devoted a retrospective to his documentaries set in the countryside. His most successful films include 'Nice Weather, Mister Pradhan!'; 'Rockin' Ramona'; 'He-goats and She-goats'; 'Lisdoonvarna, Lourdes of Love'; 'The Show Must Go On'; 'The Secret of Ossenisse'; 'The Devil Is Smart'; 'Johnny Hoes: Oh If I Had'; 'The Unprofitable' and 'Lee Towers, the Voice of Rotterdam.'
In 2010 he's honoured by the Dutch Institution of Image and Sound as Documentary Filmer in Focus. For that reason he receives a grant to make an independent short documentary that will be presented in November 2010 at the IDFA Festival in Amsterdam.
1988/1989 NICE WEATHER, MISTER PRADHAN!
Short documentary (30 min.), NOS-TV. Broadcasted on 22 February 1989. Re-broadcasted twice. Selection Margaret Mead Festival New York, December 1989. Sold to WNYC-New York Cable Net and broadcasted in the Windows-on-the-World series on 14 April 1991.
1990/1991 ROCKIN' RAMONA
Feature-length documentary (80 min.). Released in movie theaters by distributor Kor Koppies. Nominated for a Golden Calf Award as Best Dutch Documentary 1991. Broadcasted in February 1993 by NOS-TV, and repeat broadcast at NPS-TV on 23 August 1999 (shortened version of 55 minutes). Production: Lagestee Film/NOS-TV.
1993 JOIN ME TO HAWAII
Mid-length documentary (62 minutes) for VPRO-TV. Broadcasted on Sunday 13 February 1994.
1993/1994 THE SECRET OF OSSENISSE, I AND II
VPRO documentary film diptych (length: 100 minutes). Broadcasted on Sunday 8 January 1995. Nominated for a ‘Bronzen Luis’ Media Award and Honorable Mention (KRO) 1995, as well as for a Golden Calf Award as best feature-length Dutch documentary 1995.
1995/1996 STRIKE OUT
Documentary, 50 minutes. Production: NPS/Hans Heijnen Films. Broadcasted on Wednesday 28 August 1996. Winner Golden Calf Special Jury Prize 1996.
1996 THE WATER WOLF OF ITTEREN
Documentary, 61 minutes, for VPRO-TV. Broadcasted on: Sunday, 13 October 1996, 8.45 p.m., Netherlands III. Winner Golden Calf Special Jury Prize 1996.
1996 UNCLE FRANK
Documentary, 55 minutes. Premiered on Sunday 8 p.m., 29 September 1996, Movies III in Utrecht at the Netherlands Film Festival. Production: m+b Film 2 BV/NPS-TV Broadcasted: Monday 28 October 1996, 9 p.m., Netherlands III. Winner Golden Calf Special Jury Prize 1996.
1997/1998 LISDOONVARNA, LOURDES OF LOVE
Documentary, 75 minutes, for VPRO-TV. Broadcasted on Sunday night 26 April 1998, Ontario TV/ Canada, Arte France, K World Sweden. Selection Prix d’ Europe 1998. Winner Silver Spire Award, San Francisco International Film Festival.
1997/1998 HE-GOATS AND SHE-GOATS (BOKKEN EN GEITEN)
Feature-length movie theater documentary (94 minutes) on the fierce rivalry of two of the best brass bands in the world that are both from Thorn, a village of some 2500 residents in the southern part of the Netherlands. Premiered in City 1 at International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) on 28 November 1998. Subsequently shown in movie theaters throughout the province of Limburg, the Netherlands. Broadcasted on 6 January 2000 by NPS-TV. Selected and shown at the Netherlands Film Festival 2006 as part of the program ‘Party leaders choice of best film (Jan Marijnissen)’.
Misers (50 minutes) is about the extreme frugality of three rural residents whose views are diametrically at odds with the consumerist ethos that prevails today. In an era of ever more, they are largely satisfied with having less or even nothing. Broadcasted on Sunday night 11 April 1999, VPRO-TV.
1999 FOOL$ PARADI$E
56 minutes on the ups and downs of Coober Pedy, a small community of opal seekers in the hot desert of South Australia. A documentary about the will to survive and the eternal quest for Happiness. Premiered at IDFA in November 1999. Broadcasted by VPRO-TV on 20 December 1999.
2001/2002 THE SHOW MUST GO ON
A documentary (80 minutes) on the ups and downs of a community of retirees near Phoenix in Arizona (Sun City West). Only those over age 55 are allowed to live there and because of all the activities organized the residents seem to be in their prime, as if enjoying a summer camp. Around the corner, however, death is awaiting them. Production: Zeppers Film/NPS-TV. Premiered at IDFA 2002.
Two weeks Docu-Zone release in selected Dutch movie theaters, January 2003. Broadcast: Fall 2003, Dokwerk. Selection Chicago Film Festival/ Finland and sold to Swedish TV. In competition at Netherlands Film Festival 2003
2002 REX GILDO, THE FALL OF THE SCHLAGER SINGER
Documentary (60-75 minutes) on the literal and figurative fall of Rex Gildo, Germany’s biggest postwar star in the schlager genre (German popular songs). At age 63 he fell from his bathroom window and a week later he died. In the end Rex Gildo was always Rex Gildo the entertainer: he sang and ‘staged’ his own persona, an image created by the German entertainment industry. Production: Zeppers Film/NPS-TV. Premiered on 8 October 2003 in Cinerama Bellevue Amsterdam. Broadcast: Uur van de Wolf / NPS.
2003/2004 THE SURINAMESE LEGION
90-minute documentary on the culture shock of Surinamese professional soccer players in the Netherlands who never seemed to be good enough. Premiered on 10 May 2004. Released in 36 movie theaters in May 2004. Humanistic Network Foundation. Distributor: Three Lines Pictures. Production: KVO Films. Broadcasted in 67-minute version on 10 March 2005 by Humanistic Network, Netherlands 1.
2004 THE SECRET OF OSSENISSE, PART III: THE NEW ERA
Documentary (53 minutes) on changes after 1993 in a hamlet in the South-Western corner of the Netherlands after the discontinuation of the Kruiningen-Perkpolder ferry and the closing of the local Roman Catholic church. Production: Hans Heijnen Filmmaker/Omroep Zeeland. Premiere: Saturday 25 September 2004 at Netherlands Film Festival (in competition). Broadcast: 26 December 2004 at Zeeland Network.
2004/2005 THE DEVIL IS SMART
Documentary (56 minutes) on modern-day temptations for residents of the former Dutch fishermen’s island of Urk, on the struggle between good and evil, the slow decline of religion and secularization. VPRO/production, broadcast: 23 March 2005, Netherlands 3.
2005 HOLY ROSA
Documentary (70 minutes) on the increasing gap between rites (liturgy) and spiritual content in the Catholic stronghold of Limburg: the city of Sittard. The dean, a curate, a priest, an entering Carmelite nun and the leader of the local acolytes try to preserve as many rituals as possible while the churchgoers no longer grasp their content and only participate for the sake of tradition and the force of habit. In competition at Netherlands Film Festival 2005. Production: Zeppers Film/NPS-TV.
2006 GEORGE SLUIZER: FILMING ACROSS BORDERS
Documentary about Dutch film director George Sluizer, who from his childhood days has always opened up new horizons. 65 minutes NPS-TV (Uur van de Wolf). A Netherlands Film Festival premiere, 2006. Production: Zeppers Film/NPS-TV.
2006 BLACK SHEEP OF ALMERE
Documentary (50 minutes) on the beginnings of professional soccer in the new Dutch polder. Market vendors and former natives of Amsterdam realize their old dream in the new city of Almere: professional soccer. Broadcasted on 26 December 2006 (continuous) and Easter 2007 at Flevoland Network. Shown at Netherlands Film Festival 2007. Production: Hans Heijnen Filmmaker/Omroep Flevoland.
2006/2007/2008 JOHNNY HOES: OH IF I HAD
Documentary film (65 minutes) on the godfather of Dutch sentimental songs, Johnny Hoes. Born in Rotterdam, he turned ninety on 19 April 2007 but he is still active as a songwriter. He gained his biggest successes with the Zangeres Zonder Naam, but in the 1970s the entire Dutch pop scene (including leading bands such as Doe Maar, Normaal, Toontje Lager and De Dijk) would come knocking on his door. Johnnie Hoes is a man whose own life has meanwhile turned into a sentimental song. Having survived two daughters and his wife, he is busy fighting his grandchildren about part of the inheritance: the catalog of rights to his music from his major period, the years before 1992. Production: Zeppers Film & TV/NPS. Premiered on 11 February 2008 in Paradiso, Amsterdam, together with several live performances. Nomination ‘Gouden Beeld’ 2008.
2007/2008 DEAD MEN’S HIGHWAY: SONS OF THE NAPOLEONSBAAN
Mid-length documentary (54 minutes) on the special memories of people who lived all their life along state highway N273, which cuts across part of the province of Limburg, the Netherlands. It is known as 'Dead men’s highway’. However, in 2008 the new A73 freeway is scheduled to be completed and this will forever change the local situation. No more accidents and dead men on the N273; instead, it is bound to turn into a rather ‘dead’ and dull highway. Production: Hans Heijnen Filmmaker/L1.
2008/2009 HEART’S DESIRE
Documentary (57 min.) about adoption in the USA where parents can be denied parental authority more easily than in the Netherlands. In the US each year as many as half a million traumatized children are up for adoption. To bring them under the attention of possible adoption parents, marketing tools are used that seem to be rather ironic if not excruciating, such as the 'Heart Gallery' whereby children to be adopted are presented as photographer’s models in exhibition spaces, bus stations and other public spaces. In the Netherlands it will also become possible to interfere in problem families sooner (due to the Christen Unie and Rouvoet) and this comes with the risk of more children being forced out of their homes. IKON/Zeppers Film & TV, broadcasted on Thursday 14 May 2009 in Holland Doc.
1995/1996 STRIKE OUT
Documentary, 50 minutes. Production: NPS/ Hans Heijnen Films. Broadcasted: Wednesday 28 August 1996, Netherlands 3, NPS-TV. Winner Golden Calf Special Jury Prize 1996.
2004 THE SECRET OF OSSENISSE. PART III: The New Era
Documentary (53 minutes) on changes after 1993 in a hamlet in the South-Western corner of the Netherlands after the discontinuation of the Kruiningen-Perkpolder ferry and the closing of the local Roman Catholic church. Production: Hans Heijnen Filmmaker/Omroep Zeeland. Premiered on Saturday 25 september 2004 at the Netherlands Film Festival in competition. Broadcast: 26 december 2004 at Omroep Zeeland.
2006 BLACK SHEEP OF ALMERE
Documentary (50 minutes) on the beginnings of professional soccer in the polder. Market vendors and former natives of Amsterdam realize their old dream in the new city of Almere: professional soccer. Broadcast: 26 December 2006 (continuous) and Easter 2007, Flevoland Network.
2007 IN THE NAME OF PEACE!
Documentary (47 minutes) on Dutch soldiers who from the 1950s have engaged in peace missions across the world, from Korea to Kabul. Broadcast: 29 June 2007, NOS-TV. Production: Napoleon Films (Hans Heijnen/Fred Lardenoye) /Veterans Institute.
2007/2008 DEAD MEN’S HIGHWAY: SONS OF THE NAPOLEONSBAAN
Mid-length documentary (54 min.) on the special memories of people who lived all their life along state highway N273, which cuts across part of the province of Limburg, the Netherlands. It is known as 'Dead men’s highway’. However, in 2008 the new A73 freeway is scheduled to be completed and this will forever change the local situation. No more accidents and dead men on the N273; instead, it is bound to turn into a rather ‘dead’ and dull highway. Production: Hans Heijnen Filmmaker/L1
2009 GREETINGS FROM LEBANON, Peace Mission in Warzone
Documentary (40 minutes) about a Dutch UN army vehicle that exploded in Lebanon thirty years ago. That day the group’s birthday boy was allowed to sit in the front. His body was shattered to pieces. Three survivors go back to the site where it happened. Production: Napoleon Films. Broadcasted: 27 June 2009, NOS-TV.
2009 THE UNPROFITABLE (DE ONRENDABELEN)
Feature-length documentary (103 minutes) for VARA-TV based on an idea of Marcel van Dam. A film about the gradual loss of compassion in Dutch society since the late 1970s, when there were first signs of a collapsing welfare state. The ensuing radical undermining of care providing facilities, social security benefits and rehab programs was strongly influenced by the emerging doctrine of neo-liberalism, which from around 1980 would start conquering the world, as the money economy was declared to be sacrosanct. Broadcast on VARA-TV scheduled for Friday night, 27 November 2009. Almost one million viewers.
2010 PEDDLERS OF GOD
67 min documentary for L1 TV. After a fierce regime in a dutch monastry where children were beaten and abused ten of them 'escaped' from Holland to Brasil in 1956 to become a missionary. As sixteen year old boys they couldn't meet their family during the next ten years. In Brasil they realised that religion wasn't as important to people as health, education and work. God and religion became less important in favour of humanity. Doing good became their focus of being. And eventually, in the seventies, most of them retruned to society and only one of them is still living in a monastry. After the completion of this film he recently died because of heart failure. First release at IDFA november 20th 2010 in Amsterdam.
2010 WITNESS ONE MINUTE
72 minutes documentary about the effects of a smartphonefilm of 1.22 min uploaded on youtube. Shakey images show the last minute of a boy, being hurt after a stabbing in Scheveningen. People on a roof above him were shouting and everybody thought they were the responsibles, the killers, which wasn’t the case. They got a sort of life sentence due to that one minute shot. First release at IDFA 2010.
2011-2012 BEHIND THE BRIDGE
60 minutes documentary about the first generation of farmers and what has been left of them, that build up the Noord Oost Polder. They lived in the shadow of a bridge, build in 1970 – the Ketelbrug – thas has become old too. The last ten years many accidents have happened and no one seems to know the real cause. The bridge as a metaphor fors o called progression. Premiere Theater Voorhuys Emmeloord 23 december 2012. Broadcasted by Omroep Flevoland on Christmas 25th of december and on 26th december 2012.
2011-2012 LEE TOWERS, The Voice of Rotterdam
This 93 minutes lasting documentary concentrates itself around a final mass concert in Ahoy, named ‘One Night Only’ by the famous dutch crooner: Leen Huizer. All of Lee Towers’ songs are covers. That’s remarkable about him. From one on the other day he became a star in the eighty’s in Holland by singing covers like ‘New York New York’ and ‘My Way’ with a typical hoarse voice: The Lee Towers Voice. Before he worked as a diesel mechanic in the harbour of Rotterdam, growing up in a poor and very religious family. As a child he dreamed of a bigger world, better Las Vegas then Christ.
His show life is a huge contrast with the petty world in which he was raised. But altough Leen performs with the best musicians in the business like the Metropole Orchestra, he still continues to play his gigs on herring party’s and party’s for people with down syndromes. If they pay, he comes and acts as a proffessional. In that sense he’ll always be the boy from deep below. In some ways it feels sad to see that his ‘disciplin’, his responsibility, makes him act as as tired entertainer repeating himself all the time. Even his jokes are always the same. Like his wife in the films says: ‘The funniest part of your joke telling is that you personally still laugh altough you told that joke already hundred times before. That, I think, is the most funny.’
Lee Towers is a vulnerable hero when he tells us about the drama in his life, the accident where his youngest brother got killed, and the fire in the Switel Hotel in Antwerpen during New Years eve. In the last minutes he saved his wife from the flames where fifteen persons got killed by the fire. In the years after those sad incidents he missed inspiration and didn’t have the energy to go on stage. Life is more imortant then show, then entertainment. On a sudden moment he decided to go for a month into the studio and record some songs that kept his mind busy in these depressive years.
But he couldn’t finish the album. The songs made him even more sad.
Now, in 2012, more then fifteen years later, he remixes the songs again and finishes the album that will be for sale in march 2013. In the film he can’t listen with dry tears to the old recordings. It makes him sad.. as well his wife Laura, who shares his background considering poverty and religion. In good and in bad times you feel that they are tied together. And finally in the studio, it’s all right with him. As an (old) proffessional he brings the tragic recordings to a good end. He can star again.
Official Selection International Film Festival Rotterdam ( IFFR) 2013. Broadcasted march 2013 by RTV Rijnmond en in november by NTR.
DIRECTOR, TV REPORTS AND TV DOCUMENTARIES
1987/1988 THE MAKING OF AMSTERDAMNED
Promo-documentary (35 min.) for First Floor Features. AVRO-TV. Broadcasted on 30 January 1988.
Short documentary (30 minutes) on two black American basketball players in the religious fishing village of Urk. Story of a culture-shock. Broadcasted on 25 May 1988 (sold to USA education channel). Repeat broadcast on 12 October 1988.
1990 COUSCOUS AND CARNIVAL
Short documentary (30 min.) for NOS-TV. Broadcasted on 13 March 1990.
1992 THE FERMENT OF DISSATISFACTION
Short documentary (30 min.) for NOS-TV. Broadcasted on 3 March 1992 (repeat broadcast in spring of 2002 at the time of Fortuyn’s rise to political prominence).
1992 PAULUS CHURCH, FINAL STATION
Mid-length documentary (60 minutes) for NOS-TV. Broadcasted on Sunday 3 January 1993.
1993 MISS, MY PEN IS LEAKING
Documentary (53 min.) for NOS-TV. Broadcasted on Sunday 3 October 1993. Honorable mention J.B. Broeks Award (VARA), 1993-1994 season.
1994/1995 AFTER THE WAR
Four 50-minute parts for NPS-TV, entitled Zimmer Frei (emergence tourism Scheveningen), Vroem Vroem (traffic chaos 1950s), Lights off, curtains closed (experience of sex after war years), and Born to be wild (revolting youth). Honorable mention ‘Bronzen Luis’ Media Award (KRO) and honorable mention ‘Nipkowschijf’ Award.
1995 BOUNTY HUNTERS
Short 30-minute documentary for NPS-TV. Ups and downs of two Kenyan marathon runners who earn money by running as a way to feed their relatives in Africa. First broadcasted in January 1996 and re-broadcasted on Monday 19 April 1999.
1996/1997 WE ARE NO CITIZENS
Mid-length documentary (60 min.) for VPRO-TV. Broadcasted: Sunday 16 February 1997, 9 p.m., Netherlands III. On trailer park residents in Emmen and their winning soccer team, WKE.
1999/2000 WALGETT WAR
50-minute documentary film about a small community in Australia in which whites feel disadvantaged vis-à-vis the majority of Aboriginals. There is a tense atmosphere. Broadcasted: 2 October 2000, VPRO-TV.
50-minute documentary on the effects of noise nuisance on people. Broadcast: Spring 2001, VPRO-TV/Dokwerk.
1997/1998 BALLS OR BULLETS ( ‘Godfathers of Soweto’/NPS-TV)
40-minute documentary from five-part series on the rise of African soccer, entitled: The African Dream. Broadcasted 17 June 1998. Co-production: Zuidenwind Films/NPS/RVU/RTBF
2002 SO MUCH TALENT!
A 20-minute episode from a ten-part youth documentary series for VPRO, produced by Lemming Film, entitled: And Rightly So (En terecht). The ten parts are based on Children’s Rights from the United Nations Charter.
Written for the First Amsterdam Film Association and Riverside Pictures (horror thriller). Adapted by Dorna de Rouveroy and released in movie theaters in 1991 under the title Intensive care.
1987 220 VOLTS
Written for First Floor Features (fantasy thriller).
Psychological science fiction thriller.
1989/1990 THE JOKER
Comedy. Development subsidy, Production Fund.
1992/1993 CRYING IN THE CHAPEL
Road movie about Dutch bookkeeper who when in America is completely enthralled by the Elvis myth. Development subsidy, Film Fund, and from January 1996 to January 1998 a two-year option, First Floor Features.
1997/1998/1999 VIVA FARMER GERRIT
Development subsidy, Film Fund/Stimulation Fund. As 55 min. Single Play for VPRO.
Short black & white suspense movie (8 minutes), Film Academy.
1985 THE FLY
Comical horror film (20 minutes), Film Academy. Graduation film and broadcasted 12 September 1986 on Dutch TV by AVRO-TV. Movie theater release, City, Amsterdam. Re-broadcasted twice and selection at many foreign festivals.
2000 VIVA FARMER GERRIT
Black comedy (premiered at Netherlands Film Festival, 22 September 2000) about naive bachelor farmer who wants to find a wife and is subsequently fooled by mother Toontje and her clan. VPRO Single Play (55 min.), broadcasted on 22 October 2000, VPRO-TV.
Comedy pilot (25 minutes). Broadcasted: 7 August 2002, NPS-TV.