My name is Susanne Opstal, I am a Dutch director, a graduate from the Netherlands Film Academy based in Haarlem. In my work I find it extremely important to address undercurrents we all feel. Sometimes philosophical, or abstract, but always with a keen eye for the universal feelings underneath, which tend to reflect the times we live in. Stories about nature and man’s place within the enormity and majesty of the universe. Looking for an answer to that question: what does it mean to be human?
Additionally I’m a speaker and guide creators to remind them that the world needs us to create.
The search for belonging
The search for belonging is an important through-line in my work, and I’ve explored this theme through essayistic, cinematic films. A wandering camera. Natural light. Poetic narration. My work is real, but with a cinematic touch. With powerful narratives I talk about mayor themes that move you. And with light touches and nudges, I invite you to look at the world in another way. My film Nowhere Place (2014) received the Documentary Wildcard, awarded annually by the Dutch Film Fund to the most promising graduation film in the country. My latest film The Night that Looked Like Day was shortlisted by the Berlin Commercial Festival (2020). Currently I’m working on Where We Belong, a new film that made me travel the world for the past 10 years. Where We Belong was selected for IDFA Forum (2022), which I’m incredibly proud of.
In addition to my documentary work I also direct commercials. In this commercial work I try to add authenticity, sensitivity, and realism. The kind that hopefully inspires positive impact wherever we go.
WHAT THEY SAY
"Working with Susanne is always a pleasure. As a directer she comes up with good ideas and isn’t afraid to let her ideas go if you can convince her for doing something completely different. She’s the kind of director that can think in images as well as in sound. Never losing the complete picture out of her sight. She has a great ear for detail, can put her ideas into words and has a good taste for music."
“In her films Susanne endeavours to address undercurrents we all feel. Sometimes philosophical, or abstract, but always with a keen eye for the universal feelings underneath, which tend to reflect the times we live in. Her films can be experimental blends of influences, and thus often will have an international feel about them.”
"Heel knap hoe goed Susanne voor de documentaire The Night That Looked Like Day alle puzzelstukjes iedere keer weer op de juiste plek wist te leggen. Ze kreeg het voor elkaar om door de enorme hoeveelheid materiaal, de verhaallijnen beetje bij beetje te tweaken en bij te sturen, terwijl ze meestal op verre afstand de makers moest regisseren. Eindeloze focus, doorzettingsvermogen, passie voor het verhaal en voor detail, dat is Susanne. En bovenal een fijn mens! Dat zie je allemaal terug in het eindresultaat."
"There aren’t many makers that use this kind of surgical precision to transform an idea into a movie, and nurse the client and their ideas to a pleasing end result."
My films are only as good as the things that influence them. These influences come from all over the world, from many different disciplines. This adds to the international feeling my movies have. I try to tell stories about things bigger than myself, even though they live in me, my characters, and everyone else. My previous work has been voice-over driven, telling the story as time unfolds. I aim to create real, authentic cinematic essays. I travel with my subjects, through their world, or their head. I use voice-overs to get inside their inner thoughts and feelings. Because in life, we often don’t know which of the things that happens is relevant to ‘our’ story, and our journey. Only in hindsight these thing become crystal clear, as everything extraneous gets peeled off. That’s why I love making these movies. To guarantee the authenticity I pursue, I prefer working with real people, and tell real stories. Because I believe that the viewer recognises reality, and reacts to it.