Bregtje van der Haak, the new director of the Eye Filmmuseum

Bregtje van der Haak, the new director of the Eye Filmmuseum

This week, the supervisory board of the Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam appointed documentary maker and former VPRO editor-in-chief Bregtje van der Haak as its new director. As of 1 April 2023, Van der Haak will succeed current director Sandra den Hammer.

In a press release, she said “In her dreams, she sees Al Ain, the oyster on the IJ, opening itself more to the world.” She wants to turn the museum into a “courageous space” where the art of film can show itself in a variety of ways and everyone feels welcome to engage in dialogue with the collection and the international film community.

Van der Hack does not just refer to the building’s distinctive shape in North Amsterdam. It also hints that Operation Eye is no longer considering film history and production from the dominant canon, most of which is western-oriented.

As a counterpart to a “safe space,” a “brave space” is a place where people actively participate and where dialogue is fostered. Both concepts come from the United States, where a safe space is a safe place where people can meet without prejudice and is also an important tool for liberation and empowerment of marginalized groups. Brave Space goes a step further and provides space for discussion that might rub off too. This is in line with the many functions the Eye currently has, as besides being a museum and archive it is also a cinema and meeting place for many initiatives in the Dutch film sector.

New initiatives

Bregtje van der Haak (1966) studied dance in Paris, law and political science in Amsterdam, and political theory and journalism in New York. Since 2000 she has been associated with the VPRO in various capacities. As program maker and editor-in-chief (from 2006 to 2008 with Frank Waring), she has been in the cradle of many new initiatives and formats, such as cultural magazines RAMInternational Journalism Program Metropolisto which a global network of correspondents contributed, and the virtual multimedia platform “T_Visionarium Open City”, in which, among other things, the archive of sound and vision broadcasts was opened in a new way.

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I made several documentaries with architect Rem Koolhaas about globalization. her movie existence (2018) is exactly about the dark sides of the utopia of always being connected all over the world 24 hours a day. The film joins her previous documentary projects about digital amnesia (digital amnesia2014) and the right to be offline (Offline is the new luxury2017). These films provide an insight into Van der Haak’s enormous range of interests and curiosity in subjects also currently relevant to museums and film archives: how to engage with the impact and accessibility of a world imbued with new and old media.

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