Netherlands / independent filmmaker and media activist
Sunny Bergman | 25 May
Film maker, writer and activist Sunny Bergman (Amsterdam, 1972) often approaches her much discussed documentaries from a personal perspective. In 2007, surrounded by quite some media attention, her documentary ‘Limited Preservation’ aired on Dutch TV. In it she investigates the female beauty ideal in the context of the cosmetics industry. The film originated from Bergman’s own fear of losing her attractiveness and her anger about the societal importance of looks.
Sexuality is an important theme in subsequent documentaries. In the tv-series ‘Sunny Side of Sex’ and the film (and book) ‘Slut Fear’ Bergman shines a light on the sexual practices and positions of women in different parts of the world.
In the series ‘Sunny Side of Spirit’ Bergman reacted to her own experience of suffering a burn-out, while her children were diagnosed with ADHD. The series investigates why such mental illnesses don’t seem to occur in other cultures.
Bergman evoked controversy recently when she took a stance on the Black Pete discussion with her documentary ‘Black as Soot’ (Zwart als roet). In it she uncovered many forms of invisible racism. Outside the Netherlands she shocked the public by walking around with black face make-up, something that is considered ‘normal’ to portray Black Pete during the feast of St. Nicholas in the Netherlands.
Despite all the resistance she encounters, Bergman, who studied philosophy in York, is not afraid to depict things as they are. ‘I will never distort the facts. But I do want to take a stance. So sometimes I leave certain parts out. The camera follows my view on the world and takes the viewer into my stream of thoughts.’