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Wouter Barendrecht: Statement from Fortissimo Films

Wouter Barendrecht: Statement from Fortissimo Films

The following statement was sent to indieWIRE tonight by Fortissimo Films, regarding the passing of Wouter Barendrecht.

Fortissimo Films is deeply saddened to confirm that company founder and co-chairman Wouter Barendrecht died on Sunday, April 5, 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand where he had gone to screen a rough cut of Fortissimo’s upcoming Thai co-production NYMPH.

Barendrecht was a passionate advocate of independent cinema for his entire career, the last 19 years of which were at Fortissimo Films and previously at the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where he helped create the Cinemart co-production forum. His sudden death, of heart failure, is an inestimable loss: to his beloved family and co-workers, his international circle of friends, and film-making itself, where his enthusiasm and drive helped create enduring testaments to his memory.

Although just 43 when he died, Barendrecht’s vision helped a generation of film-makers reach a global audience, particularly in Asia where he moved to Hong Kong in 1997 upon the advice of acclaimed director Wong Kar-wai to set up the Fortissimo office along with subsequent business partner and co-chairman Michael J Werner. His commitment to Thai cinema, for example, led to repeated collaborations with directors such as Pen-ek Ratanaruang and Apichatpong Weerasethakul and his decision to establish a second home in Bangkok, where he died on Sunday night.

Barendrecht’s passing has shocked and saddened all his colleagues, his family, and his friends around the globe. His death comes shortly after a busy Filmart in Hong Kong for the company, and preparing for Fortissimo’s upcoming Cannes slate.

Fortissimo’s Michael J Werner said, “We are all too shocked for words by Wouter’s untimely death. He was a force of nature, my business partner, and one of the closest friends anyone could ever have. We at Fortissimo are all devastated by this news and we intend to celebrate Wouter’s life and work by proudly carrying on his vision of the company and the business. Everything is too early but we are in the planning stages of one or more memorial services, the details of which will be forthcoming. “

Nelleke Driessen, Fortissimo’s managing director, said, “Wouter’s artistic collaborations were as numerous and far-flung as his friendships. His enthusiasm for life and art was infectious; he was a loyal friend and colleague. He will be missed by all who knew him.”

DDA PR Chairman Dennis Davidson added “Wouter was a one of a kind cineaste who brought a unique sensibility to the international marketing of films.”

On hearing the news Andy Meyers, President of Shangri-La Entertainment commented “We mourn the passing of one of the most respected sales agents we have been privileged to work with.”

This Article is related to: News


You always think there will be more time, another moment, another opportunity to talk to those you care about. I never thought as we stood talking and laughing at the Grand last May that would be the last Cannes where Wouter would lift a glass and share his opinions in his inimitable way. I admired his taste, his humor, his sense of style, but above all of his wonderful gifts and attributes, it was his sense of humanity that shone through everything he did, to everyone who knew him. I was only an acquaintance, but with each festival we got to know each other a little more, and in those moments when one felt alone amidst the traveling circus that is our business, seeing Wouter walking your way, with that wonderful smile, could remind you that you weren’t alone, that what we do is a great way to spend a life, and make you feel optimistic once again. I somehow knew that despite the shroud of pessimism that the indie side of the film business has been cloaked in lately, Wouter would keep things going until they got better, would influence and inspire filmmakers, producers, exhibitors, programmers, and all of us who care about not only our world, but the wider world, to keep doing what we do, to try to make things better in our own way of contributing. He is irreplaceable and will be sorely missed. We will honor him by not giving up on his vision, by making the hard choices – which he made seem easy – to support those who the wider world overlooks or marginalizes, to love films and what we do to get them out to more and people, to share Wouter’s humanity as widely as we can. Au revoir, Wouter…

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