Fierce criticism of Dutch nature production, cinema film would be ‘greenwashing’ | show

The new Dutch nature film Wild Port of Europe, an ode to the flora and fauna in the port area of ​​Rotterdam and Moerdijk, is causing a lot of anger among environmental organizations. Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion and De Jonge Climate Movement, among others, believe that the film, which will be shown in at least 90 cinemas throughout the country from Thursday, is ‘greenwashing’. The makers are biting off.

Willem Berents and his wife Melanie Kutzke have been working almost day and night for the past four years Wild Port of Europe. Their mission: to show that industry and nature are not necessarily mutually exclusive. “And that polecats, larks and hares that choose this terrain deserve to be seen,” said Kutzke. A large part of their time, they say, was spent approaching and gaining the trust of countless companies in the port area, so that they could actually go everywhere with the camera.

The fact that oil companies are also included is not a good idea for 24 environmental organizations that previously made a joint statement against the film on this website. ‘Nature flourishes under the smoke of the polluting petrochemical industry. That, in short, is the message of the documentary’, they say. ‘It will therefore come as no surprise to anyone who the proud sponsors of this film are: BP and Shell. Wild Port of Europe is the definition of greenwashing.’

Willem Berents is the director of Wild Port of Europe, which is set in the ports of Rotterdam and Moerdijk. © Frank de Roo

Documentary maker Willem Berents thinks the fuss is unjustified. ,,Filmmakers like us do not receive a cent from the Netherlands Film Fund for their first major production. Then you have to look for municipalities, provinces, nature organizations and companies to raise money. Because we wanted to film on their site, we also asked BP and Shell to participate. And yes, we got some funds from that too. Without that help we would not have been able to give a face to nature in the port. By the way, they promised not to influence our work and they kept that.” Berents emphasizes that institutions such as Staatsbosbeheer and the Dierenbescherming have also contributed to the film.

Climate issues

Don’t you run the risk of people saying that it is apparently not too bad with all the climate problems with a nature film that takes place in the port? Berents: ,,That could be, but first watch the film and then make your own judgment. Nature struggles to survive, while humans intrude everywhere. You can also read it that way. We try to seize something without prejudice.” His wife adds that probably not a cent is left with the film. “We even took out an extra mortgage on our house to complete the budget. We thought it was so important to make this current, relevant and nuanced film.”

Wild Port of Europewith a voice-over by Sacha de Boer and music by the well-known trumpeter Eric Vloeimans, will also be the subject of debate tonight in De Balie in Amsterdam, where the makers and the protesting environmental organizations will talk to each other.

Seals in the wildlife film Wild Port of Europe.
Seals in the wildlife film Wild Port of Europe. © Wild Port of Europe

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