Wouter Barendrecht: 1965 - 2009
April 7, 2009
James Schamus, Scott Macaulay and others remember their friend and comrade.
Dutch producer and film icon Wouter Barendrecht died suddenly yesterday while in Bangkok at the age of 43. The co-chairman of Fortissimo Films (with Michael J. Werner), Barendrecht was instrumental in bringing many Asian filmmakers (such as Wong Kar-wai) to worldwide attention, as well as championing important filmmakers from across the globe. Wong Kar-wai responded to The Hollywood Reporter, “"His life was filled with passion for cinema…He was my comrade-in-arms for many years, a friend to Asian cinema, and a great champion for independent filmmakers everywhere. His laughter and his achievements will be cherished forever." In addition to founding Fortissimo Films, Wouter programmed for years the International Film Festival Rotterdam. Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE has provided a moving remembrance of Wouter and provided space for his many friends to express their loss and appreciation.
Focus CEO James Schamus was a good friend of Wouter. He laments: "The loss of Wouter Barendrecht is an incalculable blow to world cinema. To honor his memory, watch Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin or Pan-ek Ratanaruang's Last Life in the Universe or any of the scores of films he championed from filmmakers all over the world (you can find the list at fortissimofilms.com). And pour a libation to a true champion of independent cinema." To get a sense of how deeply loved Wouter was, go to Fortissimo’s condolence site.
Scott Macaulay, editor of Filmmaker Magazine and co-editor of FilmInFocus, comments: "It's near inconceivable to imagine a world of international and specialized film without Wouter in it. I first met him in the mid-90s when I attended the Rotterdam Film Festival's CineMart, which he helped create, and kept up with him over many years while sitting on the CineMart's Board of Directors. I later worked with him and his sales company Fortissimo Films on the international distribution of a feature. His exquisite taste, championing of auteurs new and established, business savvy, uncanny networking ability and indefatigable good cheer at the festivals he seemed to effortlessly navigate were all things anyone who worked in world cinema strived to emulate. This is a devastating loss, for both the international film business but, on a personal level, for the many, many friends Wouter had all over the world."