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Dirk van den Berg


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79', English-Amharic - written & directed by Dirk van den Berg (2013)

In 1924, a brass-band became Ethiopia's first official orchestra, in the 1960s, musicians began to fuse Jazz, Soul and Rhythm'n'Blues with the traditional Ethiopian five-note scale in what today is known as Ethio-Jazz. This was called the era of 'Swinging Addis'. But when the grim Marxist regime of the 'Derg' took power in 1974, it killed 'Swinging Addis'. It took until the 21st century that a new generation of young Ethiopian musicians began to fill the void. This is their story.

45', German-French - written & directed by Dirk van den Berg (2012)

A rare glance into Kashmir, one of the world's most remote and inaccessible regions in the North of India. Kashmir is known for being contested by Pakistan, India and China since the division of the subcontinent. What many don't know is that here, much of the people's life happens on water. This film is offers a glimpse into the unknown floating world of the "hangi", the water-people of Kashmir.

6 x 15m, English - written & directed by Dirk van den Berg (2013)

A series of artistic short films commissioned by a major surveying company about the shift from oil to alternative energy in Saudi Arabia. We filmed in some of the remotest areas of Saudi Arabia and the entire planet ;-). The  episode in the teaser was filmed in the immense desert of Rub al-Khali, the  so-called "Empty Quarter" between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. And we were the first film crew ever to set foot in these places…

RIGHT AFTER GOD

ART AND WAR

Written, produced & directed by Dirk van den Berg (52m / 90m)

In August 1914, the German Kaiser’s secret service sends a covert expedition force to Kabul to destabilize Afghanistan, unleashing a Muslim revolution into India and weaken the British Empire. But the head of the expedition, Wilhelm Wassmuss, breaks off and sets up his own operation in Southern Persia. A fugitive for the Germans, the Brits will soon call Wassmuss "His majesty's most excellent enemy".

This is the adventurous story of how one man almost united Persia. Forging alliances, riding side by side with Persian warriors, mobilising the tribes in a highly efficient guerrilla war against the British Empire, Wilhelm Wassmuss became the "German Lawrence". A hero for Iranians who revere him to this day calling him "the man whose name comes right after God's". Only in his native Germany he is still a parvenu for the establishment who never pardoned his insubordination.

Written, produced & directed by Dirk van den Berg (52m / 90m)

Seven years into civil war, for Syrians every day is an fight between life and death. Art seems to be their least necessity, most artists have long escaped the country. Yet some persist. This film will show how their art, not only the objects but their work as such: how they cannot stop painting, scultpting, writing or drawing even while bombs fall around them, how important their work is for their survival, for their personal, social and political identities, for their souls.

Dirk van den Berg

DIRK VAN DEN BERG

CEO, director & producer

Dirk is a director, writer and producer with wide international experience. His preferred areas of work are the Middle East, the Maghreb and Africa. His new documentary "THE SIEGE OF MECCA” (aka “MEKKA 1979 - URKNALL DES TERRORS?", aka "LE SIÈGE DE LA MECQUE") is the first comprehensive investigation of the hijacking of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia that marked a pivotal shift in world history. Produced jointly between Dirk’s OutreMer Film GmbH and Pascal Verroust’s K2 Productions, Paris, the film was supported by ARTE France, NDR, WDR, HR, RBB, ORF, FFHSH Hamburg and INA France; PBS International does world sales.

Other films of recent years are: "JAMMING ADDIS" (distributed in 186 countries), "GUZO - THE ORIGIN OF MUSIC", "KASHMIR - INDIA'S CROWN JEWEL".

35m, English-Amharic - written & directed by Dirk van den Berg (2016)

The new instalment of our journey into the Origins of Music ("guzo" in Amharic means "the journey") with Ethiopian pianist Samuel Yirga. This time we travel to the Northern regions of Ethiopia: Bahir Dar, Gondar and the unexplored Azmari villages of the Amhara region. Here, 850 kilometers North of the capital Addis Ababa, we encounter one of the most powerful facets of Ethiopia’s millenarian Music heritage and culture.

Ethiopia - Jamming Addis
Floating World of Kashmir
Ethiopia - Guzo North
Iran - Wilhelm Wassmuss
Syria - Seams of Desire
Syria - Art and War
Saudi Arabia - Rub Al Khali

Written, produced & directed by Dirk van den Berg (52m / 90m)

The most raunchy lingerie imaginable is not sold in Amsterdam or Paris - but in the old souks of Damascus, Syria. Until the war began, women flocked here from all over the Middle East to buy sexy underwear, while other Arab countries copied the "Damascene Sexy Style" to profit from its enormous popularity. How can such a wild subculture coexist with the traditions and rules of supposedly hermetic Arab societies? What does it do to the women (and the men) in those societies? And how is the war changing this (or not)?

When the war forced us to stop filming, a first roughcut revealed how the lingerie's raunchy side relates to women's intimate desires, hopes and aspirations. Beyond that, our images show a complex society where traditional rules are respected as much as they are overthrown.

Aerial View of Mecca Mosque 1979

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