What sacrifices are we willing to make to maintain our trajectory career? What choices would we reconsider in hindsight? Nadine van Loon’s NOTES FROM BRUSSELS follows three women and their drive to keep ahead in Brussels’ fast-paced institutions as they pursue their European dream.
The documentary ‘Notes from Brussels’ shows the human face behind ‘Brussels’. The film interweaves three intimate stories of women in different phases of their lives; a young French political assistant in the European Parliament, a Polish trade journalist and a German top EU official. Just like the film’s director and narrator the women moved to Brussels at the onset of their careers longing to contribute to Europe. But where the director left this setting after a burnout, these women stayed.
Filmed between 2017 and 2021 we experience how time in the ‘Brussels bubble’ impacts the women’s lives. As they internalize a European mindset and adapt to the intense work-rhythm we wonder: to what extent can the women heed their inner voice calling them to slow down and to not estrange from their roots?
The women’s stories are set against the background of rising Euroscepticism in France; Poland drifting away from the European ideals and the lingering EU migration crisis. As a result the documentary also reminds us how European values are threatened by the rise of authoritarianism and how fragile European cooperation sometimes is; themes that have taken on an added layer of meaning in light of Russian’s invasion of Ukraine.
|DIRECTOR||Nadine van Loon|
|LANGUAGES||English, French, German, Polish|
|FILMED IN||Belgium, France, Poland|
|FORMAT||DCP, 1920X1080, 25FPS, 5.1 SURROUND|
‘Notes from Brussels’ can be rented (for home use only) via https://vimeo.com/ondemand/notesfrombrussels. Screening rights are required for showing the film outside the home-environment. Want to screen this film at your festival, within your organization, community or in your classroom? Read this and/or contact us at email@example.com
On 2 December 2021 ‘Notes from Brussels’ world premiered in Brussels’ ‘Cinema Galeries’ where the documentary screened that month in sold-out cinema halls. The film showed at film festivals and at numerous private events within international organizations (NATO, EU institutions & agencies), consultancies, women-networks, universities and the Province of Groningen. In May 2022 the film was released in Dutch film theaters and toured Maastricht, The Hague, Wageningen and Amsterdam. Most screenings attracted full houses and were linked to animated after-discussions, with the regular participation of the film’s cast (main characters & director) as well as stakeholders in EU politics, diplomacy, security & defense and female empowerment networks. In May 2023 the film was broadcasted by Dutch TV (VPRO) on NPO 2 Extra and NPO Start.
PUBLIC theatrical SCREENINGS
2 december World Premiere
Cinema Galeries – Brussels
Thursday 2 December at 19:00, followed by a Q & A with director and cast, moderated by Corinna Hörst, the co-author of the book ‘Women Leading the Way in Brussels‘. – SOLD OUT
8 december 2021
Cinema Galeries– Brussels
Wednesday 8 December at 21:00 – SOLD OUT
15 december 2021
Cinema Galeries – Brussels
Wednesday 15 December at 19:00 – followed by a Q & A with director and cast moderated by Joanneke Balfoort, director Security and Defence policy at the European External Action Service. SOLD OUT
22 december 2021
Cinema Galeries – Brussels
Wednesday 22 December at 19:00 – ALMOST SOLD OUT
16 january 2022
Dhaka International Film Festival (Bangladesh) – 13:00 at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Auditorium of National Music and Dance
22 january 2022
Dhaka International Film Festival (Bangladesh) – 13:00 at the National Museum-Sufia Kamal Auditorium
7 march 2022
Beirut International Women Festival (Lebanon) – ‘women for leadership’ 17:00 at Grand Cinemas – ABC Mall Dbayye- Hall 7. Tickets are free.
Before the screening, between 15:00-16:30, a panel takes place discussing the challenges women face in leadership positions and in getting there. What are some of the same obstacles faced in the European Union and in Lebanon and what can be expected for the upcoming elections in Lebanon? This event is co-organized and supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Lebanon. Dutch Ambassador Hans Peter van der Woude, Rachel Dore-Weeks (Head of UN Women Lebanon) and Joelle Abou Farhat (Executive Director of the NGO fiftyfiftylb) participate in the panel that is moderated by Dr Maria Bou Zeid.
8 march 2022
Atomium – Brussels (Belgium) – 19:00 – a screening to celebrate International Women’s Day, followed by an after discussion with director Nadine van Loon and Anne-Cécile Gault, one of the film’s main characters .
9 may 2022
– Cinema Lumière Maastricht (the Netherlands) – 19:30 – ‘Maastricht-première’ in light of Europe Day and in cooperation with ECA (European Careers Association Maastricht) followed by an after discussion with director Nadine van Loon.
11 may 2022
– Filmhuis Den Haag (the Netherlands) – 18.45 – ‘The Hague première’, a ‘film & talk’ screening as part of ‘Democracy in debate’ a series about current political affairs in cooperation with ‘Pro-demos’, ‘Het Montesquieu Instituut’ and ‘Nieuwspoort’. After-discussion with director Nadine van Loon and Basje Bender, author of the novel ‘Brussel’ (Meulenhoff, 2015) moderated by Maaike Jongema from ‘Het Montesquieu Instituut’. SOLD OUT
13 may 2022
– Filmhuis Den Haag (the Netherlands) – 13:30
15 may 2022
– Filmhuis Den Haag (the Netherlands) – 13:30
19 may 2022
– Movie W – Het filmhuis van Wageningen en omstreken – 20.00 – followed by an after-discussion with director Nadine van Loon, moderated by Lara de Brito.
24 may 2022
– Movie W – Het filmhuis van Wageningen en omstreken – 20.30
4 july 2022
– Het Ketelhuis – Amsterdam 19:00 – followed by an after-discussion where we will explore how the drive and challenges of the film’s lead characters resonate with speakers from the world of finance and from Amsterdam’s business district ‘de Zuidas’ as well as EU affairs students. With director Nadine van Loon, employment law partner at Dentons Europe Eugenie Nunes, banking supervisor at the Dutch Central Bank Christine Zwaneveld and chair of UVA’s Study Association for European Studies Sophia Bombeld. Tickets here.
In 2016 I moved back again to Brussels with my family. Strolling along the EU institutions memories popped up of earlier versions of myself; a young political assistant in the European Parliament; then a Dutch diplomat who regularly traveled to Brussels for EU meetings. As I reconnected again with friends from my ‘first round’ in Brussels and met new people, I loved their open mindset and European perspective. To me this means curiosity for each other and an acceptance that we are all molded by our own backgrounds; that we need to listen to one another in order to find a common path. In an almost melancholic way ‘Europe’ got hold of me again and it is from that feeling that this film sprung.
I got fascinated by all these women I saw working in and around the EU institutions. I sensed the meaning they found in their careers and wondered; how do they do it? How to they continue pursuing this European dream that brought them to Brussels? As I was filming my main characters, subconsciously I was examining whether I myself made the right choice to leave this work-environment behind me, whilst at the same time being well aware why I left.
By interweaving three intimate portraits of women in different phases of their life I hope to highlight what women have achieved so far at the workplace. And I want to explore what the accompanying inner struggles tell us about the ‘EU bubble’ and more broadly our societies. By showing viewers how this addictive European reality absorbs the women, the film raises the question whether the women choose their intense work-routine or whether this work-routine imposes itself. Thereby I hope to spark a conversation about the toll that long working hours and stress can take in our fast-paced lives.
We often hear complaints about the EU bureaucracy and its ‘technocrats’. Through my film I want to show the human face behind ‘Brussels’ while triggering reflections on the future of work from a female perspective. As we transition to post-lockdown ‘hybrid working’ my film can create a platform for oft-avoided conversations about what we need as humans for our wellbeing at work.
Bio director & character profiles
nadine van loon
Nadine van Loon holds a Masters degree in Contemporary History. She was a political assistant to a Dutch MEP in the European Parliament, then joined the Dutch Foreign Service where she mainly worked in EU-related positions. Along the way she increasingly followed her urge to explore through storytelling how the spirit of our times impacts people’s life choices. Between 2006 and 2009, during a sabbatical leave, she lived in Morocco as a journalist writing for Dutch newspapers and magazines. Back in the Netherlands she decided to leave the Foreign Service in 2012. As a filmmaker, she made several short films for museum exhibitions. ‘Notes from Brussels’ is her documentary debut.
After completing her masters in both French-German relations and European Affairs from Science Po in Strasbourg, Anne-Cécile became a ‘Robert Schuman’ trainee at the office of the European Parliament in Munich. When Nadine started filming her in June 2017 she was the political assistant to French Member of the European Parliament Nathalie Griesbeck (Mouvement Démocrate, Renew Europe-group). Since the summer of 2019 Anne- Cécile works for French MEP Laurence Farreng also from the Mouvement Démocrate.
Joanna holds a masters in international relations from the University of Lódź in Poland. She started her studies there in 1995, six years after the fall of communism. In 2004 she completed a masters in European Affairs from the European Institute of Public Administration in Maastricht. Two years after Poland joined the EU Joanna moved to Brussels where she has become an experienced reporter on trade, investment policy and foreign affairs. She currently writes for MLex Market Insight as senior trade correspondent.
Beate studied journalism in Munich and joined the civil service of the European Commission in 1995. When Nadine started filming her in 2017 she was the Secretary General at the European Ombudsman’s Office. She then became director at the European Commission, managing the EU’s migration, asylum and integration budgets, including the funding for border and police cooperation. In November 2020 Beate was nominated deputy Director General, heading the Taskforce Migration Management that aims to improve the migration management on Lesvos (Greece).
host a screening
Thank you for your interest in hosting a private screening event of the documentary Notes from Brussels within your corporation, organization or community. These screenings contribute to the film’s goals to show the human face behind the ‘Brussels bubble’ and trigger reflections on Europe and the future of work from a female perspective. Screenings can for example be organized for events that focus on themes such as Europe, (female) leadership, the future of work, (EU) careers and wellbeing at work. These events can be organized on location or online and we can provide a manual on how to organize such an event (it’s easy!).
Screening rights are required for showing the film outside the home-environment and can be purchased through a screening-fee. Please fill out the application form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible with an offer.
For individuals or if you want to watch the film in your home-environment: click here.
The director can also be booked to be present at the event and for a Q&A after the film. If you wish Nadine van Loon’s presence, please indicate this in your application and she will inform you about the possibilities. Upon request we can recommend a moderator for your event. A favorite suggestion is Daria Nashat who has been involved as a consultant during the filmmaking process and is based in Brussels.
A one-time screening, organized in a private setting.
The screening can be done on location or digitally through a streaming-link made available for the duration of the screening.
It is also possible to organize the screening in a cinema. This entails extra costs to rent a cinema room and to rent and transport the film’s Digital Cinema Package (DCP) to the cinema. Upon request we can put you in contact with selected cinemas.
Screening rights to host a one-time private screening in your organization or community and to promote your event on your internal platforms.
Link to access the film for online streaming (in case of non-cinema screening).
Images, a link to the film’s trailer, a digital film-poster and short texts (e.g for the invitations).
A manual on how to organize the event & a ‘guidance document’ for the after-discussion.
Support from inContext Producties.
Thank you very much for your screening request. At this stage, we only offer screenings to corporations, organizations or communities. For smaller groups or individuals we recommend waiting untill the film beccomes available on Vimeo on Demand.
If you would like to book a screening, fill in the form on the right.
Your name and contact details (email, phone etc).
Your organization & website of the organization and a brief introduction of yourself and your organization.
How many people you estimate will participate in your screening as well as a maximum number of participants.
What type of screening are you planning to hold? (a free screening for your community or a ticketed event? A training or reflection tool for your staff? Other?)
Expected event date.
Review in the online magazine on international affairs ‘De Clingendael Spectator’
Review in the Dutch weekly cinema-magazine ‘De Filmkrant’
Review in ‘VPRO documentairegids’
Review in ‘Cinemagazine’
The Dutch Financial newspaper ‘Het Financieel Dagblad’
In het Brusselse moeras zijn werkdagen van 14 uur heel normaal. ‘Ze hebben de mooiste hondenbanen, vinden ze zelf’
Dutch national newspaper ‘Trouw’
The Bulletin – podcast on Belgian Cinema. Listen to a 12 minutes interview with director Nadine van Loon. Interview starts at 12.30 minutes and ends at 25.50 minutes.
Apache – Belgian newsplatform for critical and investigative journalism.
The Bulletin – Belgium’s platform for the international community
BRUZZ TV- video-portrait on the local news platform for Brussels
Politico EU Confidential newsletter
Politico’s EU Confidential podcast
Beate Gminder, Joanna Sopinska and Anne-Cécile Gault
WRITTEN & DIRECTED
Nadine van Loon
Nadine van Loon
CAMERA & SOUND
Nadine van Loon
SOUND DESIGN & MIXING
MUSIC MASTERING & MIXING
Gijs van Klooster
GRADING, GRAPHICS & MASTERING
Fleur Amesz, Karijn Kakebeeke
Daria Nashat, Annemiek van der Hell
WITH THE SUPPORT OF
269 crowdfunders, Paul Culley, Renew Europe, FTI Consulting, Atomium, The Nine