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EU bubble ‘shapes and absorbs you,’ says director of new documentary

16:00 06/01/2021
A crowdfunding campaign will help cover post-production costs of a documentary exploring work pressures and expectations among three women working in the EU

After suffering a burnout working in the European institutions, Dutch filmmaker Nadine van Loon has now made a documentary about how three women are currently managing the same pressures. Van Loon launched a campaign today to help cover post-production costs.

Notes from Brussels features a top German official, a young French parliamentary assistant and a Polish journalist (pictured), all working in the EU institutions. Van Loon was curious as to how women in the same situation as she was are handling the expectations of the fast-paced world of European politics.

She followed the Eurocrats for three years to get a complete picture of their work and home lives, their hopes and doubts and their relationships with their home countries.  “Through these characters, I hope to show the human face behind ‘Brussels’,” she says. “The face of the women’s devotion as well as the inner struggles that come along with living this intense work rhythm in the EU bubble.”

How do women listen to this inner voice, Van Loon asks, “when this almost addictive European reality shapes you and absorbs you. Do the women choose this work routine or does the work routine impose itself?”

Common path

Van Loon, 46, worked as a parliamentary assistant with the Dutch party D66 and as an EU diplomat with the Dutch department of foreign affairs. About 10 years ago, she left the job and retrained in the Netherlands as a video artist.

In 2016, she returned to Brussels with her three kids and her husband, who had a job offer in the capital.  “Strolling along the EU institutions, memories popped up of earlier versions of myself,” she says. “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 about each other and an acceptance that we are all moulded by our own backgrounds, that we need to listen to one another in order to find a common path.”

She noticed, she said, how many people felt a great sense of satisfaction working for common European goals. “‘Europe’ got hold of me again. As I was filming the women, subconsciously I was examining whether I made the right choice to leave this work environment behind, while at the same time being well aware of why I left.”

Most of the 55-minute film has been shot, but some €16,000 is still needed for editing and sound design. After just a few hours on the CineCrowd funding site, the project has already received more than €600. Donors can receive a movie poster, their name in the credits and tickets to exclusive screenings and panel discussions, depending on the amount donated.

Written by Lisa Bradshaw