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’ follows three women working behind the scenes of European politics: 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? Along the way, the director realizes how she herself has become an outsider to this world she once belonged to. Now back living in Brussels with her family, she recognizes elements in the women’s struggles that in her case triggered a burnout. What is the price of her choice to step out and the main characters’ choice to stay? How to embrace reality as it unfolds?
The women’s stories are set against the background of rising Euroscepticism in France; Poland drifting away from our European ideals and the lingering EU migration crisis. As a result, the documentary also reminds us how our European values are threatened by the rise of authoritarianism and how fragile European cooperation sometimes is.
For a teaser & more background information on the story, cast and crew: visit the crowdfunding page on Cinecrowd.
CREDITS & INFO
Brussels/ Strasbourg/ the Ardennes/ Lodz (Poland), 2017 – 2021
Brussels bubble struggles in Politico EU Confidential newsletter
Special guest in Politico’s EU Confidential podcast
EU bubble shapes and absorbs you says director new documentary in The Bulletin
filmmaker nadine-van-loon maakt-docufilm over de vrouwen achter de schermen van de europese politiek in ‘De Opzij’ – leading Dutch feminist magazine
documentaire over vrouwen in EU instellingen in de maak in Bruzz
Nadine van Loon (Dutch, 46) 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.
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 travelled 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 a 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. I noticed how many of these Europeans in Brussels had found meaning in their EU-careers. In an almost melancholic way ‘Europe’ got hold of me again and it is from that feeling that this film idea sprung. As I was filming the women, subconsciously I was examining whether I made the right choice to leave this work-environment behind me, whilst at the same time being well aware why I left.
We often hear complaints about the EU bureaucracy and its ‘technocrats’, a view that very much contrasts with my own experience. Through the stories of my main characters I want to show the human face behind ‘Brussels’; the face of the women’s devotion as well as the inner struggles that come along with living this intense work-rhythm in Brussels. Is it the women who choose this work-routine or does the work-routine impose itself? And how to stay in touch with your roots when this almost addictive European reality shapes you and, as it were, slowly absorbs you?
As my project advisor Karijn Kakebeeke observed, ‘Notes from Brussels’ is about women who are successful ánd in pursuit of their dreams and yet cannot shy away from the tension caused by precisely those elements. I think this tension is very recognizable for women and men all over the world working in competitive work-environments. In that sense, I hope my film can trigger reflections about the future of work.
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Interested in a private screening of the film within your organization, to trigger reflections about Europe and the future of work from a female perspective? This will become possible after the film’s official release. For inquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org.