Flemish film director Robbe de Hert (77) deceased

The Flemish film director Robbe de Hert passed away at the age of 77. He broke through to the general public in 1980 with the feature film De Witte van Sichem. Other well-known films of his are Blueberry Hill, which received a Golden Calf in the Netherlands, and Lijmen/Het leg (2000). In that film adaptation of Willem Elsschot’s double novel, Willeke van Ammelrooy played one of the leading roles. She was also awarded a Golden Calf.

De Hert, who was actually called Robin by his first name, knew at a young age that his future lay in the cinema, although his parents saw more in the mts: they thought he should become an electrician. But De Hert persevered and made his first short films at the end of the 1960s, after which he was co-founder of the Fugitive Cinema collective.

This group of committed directors made critical documentaries; for example, De Hert focused his arrows in Death of a Sandwich Man on the increasing commercialisation of the cycling sport, which is so important in Belgium. He was faced with a boycott by the then public broadcaster BRT.

Crowdfunding action

In the 1980s he made a name for himself with adaptations of books, such as De Witte van Sichem (The White Shechem), based on the novel De Witte by Ernst Claes (1920). Literature adaptations are easier to finance than original scenarios, said De Hert.

At the end of his life he managed to realize a project he had been working on for years, the documentary Hollywood on the Scheldt about the history of Belgian cinema. As so often, it was in danger of running out of money, but thanks to a benefit show and a crowdfunding campaign, the work could premiere at the Ostend Film Festival in September 2018

Robbe de Hert was diabetic from an early age and suffered from a broken foot that was never treated properly. He was therefore treated with morphine patches, which, to his regret, meant that he was no longer allowed to drink alcohol (“being fed up is fantastic”). Another striking detail was the towel that he always wore, beaten around his neck or over his left or right shoulder.