BORIS GERRETS, NCE (1948 – 2020)
To our deepest regrets we learned this weekend that our colleague and filmmaker Boris Gerrets passed away on Thursday, March 26. On behalf of all NCE-members, our thoughts and sympathies are with Boris’ partner Alexandra, his daughters Rosalie and Mila, his son Basil and his family and loved ones.
Boris’ last film, Lamentations of Judas, (Witfilm, 2020), would have been the opening film of the Movies that Matter festival. Besides being an editor, Boris was a very talented filmmaker, a teacher, he made drawings, animation, video- and book art and physical theatre, about all of which he said the following:
Art is what connects us through history and across cultures by way of an endless string of ideas and feelings. I don’t see my art as an expression of my individuality, but it does spring from the specific experience that has made me who I am. What is important is that my work should be an attempt to create a space of encounter, a space that can channel the energies generated by my encounter with the world as it presents itself to me.
The following In Memoriam was written by Ruben van der Hammen, who worked with Boris on his last film.
Foto: © Alexandra Handal
I got to know Boris in September of 2019 when he asked me to help him finish his latest film, Lamentations of Judas (2020). He sent me an email, asking me to come to Berlin where he had been living the last couple of years. “The fact that I edit my own films creates a situation where I need help in the final stage of the film, to keep a fresh look on it.” – he wrote to me. My fellow editors will no doubt recognise that it’s not always easy for a director (nor for an editor) to ask for help in this stage, especially from someone who doesn’t know anything about your project. You never know what they might unveil or what new doubts they can put inside your head. Boris always asked for fresh eyes when finishing his films. One or two sharp remarks can put everything in place, he wrote to me. As far as I’m concerned this shows a trust and openness every director and editor should have.
Of course I knew Boris already as a colleague and as a filmmaker. Considering the impressive list of films he’s worked on that’s no surprise. But most of all I knew him as a warm friend to the people around him and his fellow film makers. He once offered Menno Boerema a room in his house when Menno was going through a divorce and had no place to sleep. Menno ended up staying for a year.
Boris started out as a visual artist making video installations and got into film editing through that. He was the editor of First Kill (2001) by Coco Schrijber, Aya Sofya Amsterdam (2007) by Jack Janssen, Anton Corbijn Inside Out (2012) by Klaartje Quirijns and Your Mom and Dad (2019) by Klaartje Quirijns, to name a few. As a director Boris received international acclaim with his film Shado’man (2013) and especially People I Could Have Been and Maybe Am (2010) with which he won, amongst others, the award for best mid-length documentary at the IDFA.
Much to his regret his latest film was not selected for the Berlinale. He told me the political winds were not in his favor and that some hardliners thought that he – being a white westerner – couldn’t make a film about a black African situation. He must have been very frustrated about this. Not only does it make you wonder whether these hardliners have seen his previous work, but especially Boris, born in Amsterdam into a Dutch, Bulgarian-German household, partially raised in Sierra Leone, someone that speaks seven languages but most of all a person who in his work and in life looks beyond descent and always looks at the human side of things—especially he would be the one to make a special, warm film about any situation anywhere in the world.
When we were working on the film in September, Boris’ health was already deteriorating. He told me the voice over in the film was not only Judas’ contemplations but also his own thoughts on life. The voice over with which he ends the film moved me deeply—then, and especially now:
My life is not a journey, but a wave that is about to crash.
A man’s life is incomplete.
But another wave will come.
With losing Boris we’ve lost a much respected colleague and the international film industry has lost one of its great talents. I will miss him dearly as the good friend he has become in the short period we worked together.
Ruben van der Hammen