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Heddy Honigmann
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director Heddy Honigmann"Honigmann is one of the most brilliant documentarians working today."—Karen Cooper, Director, Film Forum, New York

"Heddy is simply one of the contemporary masters of the form... [She has] the consistent and uncanny ability to capture moments of profound emotional honesty."—Sean Farnel, Director of Programming, Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival

Heddy Honigmann, a child of Holocaust survivors, was born in 1951 in Lima, Peru, where she studied biology and literature at the University of Lima. She left Peru in 1973, traveled throughout Mexico, Israel, Spain and France, and later studied film at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome. Since 1978 she has been a Dutch citizen and presently lives in Amsterdam, although her filmmaking career has taken her around the world.

As the child of exiles, it's not surprising that the plight of exiles and outsiders is a recurrent theme in her documentaries, as is memory, music and love. Her subjects have included cab drivers in Peru, immigrant musicians on the Paris Metro, senior citizens in Brazil, and Cuban exiles in New Jersey.

In addition to the elegantly composed imagery of her films, Honigmann's most often recognized talent as a documentary filmmaker is her ability to make an emotional connection with the people she films, an empathetic ability to listen and to elicit surprisingly intimate responses from them. As Honigmann has described her approach, "I don't do interviews. I make conversation."

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This quality has also been noted by Jytte Jensen, Associate Curator in the Department of Film and Media at the Museum of Modern Art. "An endlessly curious offscreen presence, Honigmann teases out the complex, astonishingly resilient, and often funny aspects of people's amazing lives. Her questions are direct and compassionate but persistent—like those of an old, dear friend."

Honigmann's body of work has been honored with retrospectives at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Cinema Arsenal in Berlin, the Madrid Film Museum, the Pacific Film Archive in San Francisco, and the Paris Film Festival, among many other venues. Her films have won major awards at film festivals around the world, including the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, the Golden Pigeon at the Leipiz Film Festival, the Grand Prix at the Cinema du Réel in Paris, the Jury Prize at the Montreal World Film Festival, the Dutch Film Critics Award (twice!), and the J. Van Praag Award from The Humanist Association, which recognized her entire body of work, in which "important universal themes such as survival are developed in a unique filmic form."

Icarus Films is proud to distribute four films by Heddy Honigmann:

  • Oblivion - The latest documentary from Heddy Honigmann focuses on Peru's capital city of Lima, revealing its startling contrasts of wealth and poverty, and how its poorest citizens have survived decades of economic crisis, violence, denial of workers' rights, and corruption.

  • Forever - A poignant tour of the importance of art in the lives of visitors to the Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, the final resting place for legendary writers, composers, painters and other artists from around the world.

  • Metal and Melancholy - Roving the city of Lima, Peru, Heddy Honigmann meets teachers, actors, professionals, civil servants and many others who have turned to taxi driving to earn enough to get by.

  • The Underground Orchestra - A glorious documentary that profiles illegal immigrants who have fled political persecution in their own countries, and who make a living as musicians on the Metro and the sidewalks of Paris, thereby demonstrating their talent and their will to survive.

  • O Amor Natural - Inspired by the erotic poetry of Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Honigmann visits the beaches and streets of Rio de Janeiro, conversing with elderly men and women, and thereby revealing the sustaining power of sex and the memory of desire.

Related Links:
Featured Filmmaker Index
Heddy Honigmann is Good For You by John Anderson
Heddy Honigmann's Facebook Group


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