Wednesday 10 January 2024

John Albert Jansen 1954-2024

Filmmaker and producer John Albert Jansen passed away on January 7, 2024. He had been suffering from leukemia for some time. John Albert Jansen (1954) was director and producer at Oogland Film Productions. He studied Dutch and Literary Studies at the University of Amsterdam and in Berlin. After a three-year stay in Berlin, he started as a writing journalist in the 1980s for, among others, Het Parool, de Volkskrant and Vrij Nederland. He also worked for radio programs from NPS, Humanist Broadcasting, IKON and especially the VPRO. He was a presenter and editor-in-chief on the radio program VPRO Boeken, predecessor of the later television program with that title. From the mid-nineties he developed as a maker of films and TV documentaries with an unmistakable signature, at the intersection of art, literature and society. It were committed films. The latter was sometimes the subject of discussion. He himself said this in 2023: 'It is a mistake that has occurred over the past decade that “engagement” must primarily be “current” and “social”. The fact that commitment, involvement, can also be found in rhythm, form and composition, seems to have disappeared.'

He made documentaries in Indonesia and Suriname, but in recent years he has mainly focused on making special artist portraits. For example, he made films about Nobel Prize winners Herta Müller and Wislawa Szymborska, about Hugo Claus and Luc Tuymans, and about Remco Campert and Heere Heeresma. The film 'The Alphabet of Fear' about Herta Müller was nominated for a Golden Calf. His films were not conventional film portraits. They were aptly characterized in 2015 by NRC critic Hans Beerekamp: 'Jansen succeeds like no other in interweaving literature, landscapes and personal and national history into a documentary, which is also art itself. It is a poetic form of visual essayism.'

He worked until the end of his life. His last film, produced by Moondocs, 'The Wandering Dust - The Odyssey of Edgar Hilsenrath' is almost finished. We will complete the film in his spirit.