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IDFA Women Directors: Meet Hella de Jonge – ‘Don’t Lose Heart’

IDFA Women Directors: Meet Hella de Jonge - 'Don't Lose Heart'

Sculptor and writer Hella de Jonge has published two books about her youth and her family: Los van de wereld (Apart from the World) and Spring (Jump). (Press materials)

Don’t Lose Heart will play at IDFA on November 26.

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.
HDJ: When my 88-year-old father, with whom I had a bad relationship, had to move, he wanted to throw away everything that reminded him of the Second World War.
Among his possessions was a box with the legacy of my great aunt, who survived the Nazi terror along with my parents. The box contained pictures and handwritten letters from the concentration camps. 
After I confronted my father with my mother’s taped testimony as part of Steven Spielberg’s Shoah project, he started to talk. We visited places of painful memories, breaking through his feelings of shame and guilt. I finally found the relationship with my father I had been longing for all my life.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

HDJ: To show the damage war and violence can do to the second and even third generations.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?
HDJ: Lack of time. My father was in his nineties. Would he be able to [complete] his testimony? In seventy years, he had never spoken about what really happened to him during the war.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?
HDJ: Although it [may] be very difficult, try to reach peace with your father or mother while they’re still with you.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

HDJ: One is capable of more than one thinks. 

W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?

HDJ: As a woman, it will always be difficult in a man`s world. But there is no reason not to show our skills. 

Being the daughter of a famous father and the wife of a famous husband, it’s not easy to make others believe that I accomplished this in my own right. 
W&H: How did you get your film funded?
HDJ: I started working on the film for the Memorial Center Camp Westerbork for one of their exhibitions, but then it grew bigger and became a thing of his own. So then I offered it to the documentary festival IDFA. IDFA selected it for the Dutch competition
W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.
HDJ: Jodie Foster. For being a strong woman in a man’s world.

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