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saturday screenings cancelled / What's up with bijlmerbios?

We deeply regret to announce that the Saturday screenings of EUphoria and Zwarte Ibis at Bijlmerbios will no longer take place. Read on to to learn why.

A problem with the audio setup at Bijlmerbios has brought some painful yet typical patterns to the surface. In the days leading up to our event on February 3rd at Bijlmerbios, we encountered negligence, gaslighting, and dismissive behavior from the director of Bijlmerbios.

After the premiere of Zwarte Ibis, we felt it was important to make our film accessible to our communities in the Bijlmer area - an important site for the research project that forms the basis of our film. Therefore, we've been busy organizing several screenings with Bijlmerbios that would take place throughout the entire month of February. During a test screening, however, it became apparent that there was a serious issue with the cinema's audio setup. When we raised this concern, we were met with dismissive and condescending behavior. We were, for instance, told that the costs for a potential technician would be on us, and otherwise, we should cancel the event altogether.

The sound issue persisted even with the cinema's own videos. It was at this point that the director, Hans Meiboom, eventually admitted that the cinema had been experiencing audio problems for several months, which we believe should have been communicated with us much earlier. Thus, the problem was confirmed but no real solutions were offered. Instead, the issue was downplayed in a way that made it seem as though we did not have the expertise to judge the quality of our own work. After all, we were repeatedly told that we were the first filmmakers to be so critical of their audio set up.

Despite feeling completely disregarded, we continued the collaboration because our event on February 3rd was only five days away. Additionally, Bijlmerbios is the only cinema in the Bijlmer (which was repeatedly emphasized). Eventually, we had to run several tests and ended up making a dcp file where the audio channels were rearranged in a way that makes the film sound decent on the wrong(!) configuration of Bijlmerbios's audio setup. This effort has cost us time, money, and stress for which Bijlmerbios has not compensated us nor apologized.

To compensate for our extra work, and as part of a longer (and very tiresome) discussion we were already having with Bijlmerbios about accessibility, we wanted to offer our two short films (totaling only 43 minutes) at a reduced rate for our audience - whether the audio works properly or not. As expected, Bijlmerbios was unwilling to accommodate us in that proposal, which, once again, confirms the overall difficult and one-sided collaboration we've had so far.

Our decision to discontinue our plans to screen our films at Bijlmerbios is, of course, not just about the audio issues. However, we decided to share this part in more detail, because it reveals very concrete and problematic yet typical patterns of power that are prevalent in the the cultural sector. Unfortunately, such dynamics are not new to us, but they surely are tiring and simply unacceptable.

To date, we have not felt that this collaboration, our film, or the community on which Bijlmerbios continues to build its image/brand, actually means anything to them. In fact, we believe there is fundamentally something wrong with the way Bijlmerbios presents itself in proximity to the neighborhood and its communities. We deserve better. Artists of color deserve better. The Bijlmer community deserves better.

We are deeply saddened by how things have unfolded. However, we believe that if we continue this collaboration, we will only serve as a billboard to attract the next artists from the community. And this, we refuse.

We sincerely apologize to everyone who was looking forward to seeing Zwarte Ibis and EUphoria at Bijlmerbios this month. But no worries, there will be plenty of other opportunities to see the film in both The Netherlands and Belgium! First in line: BOZAR in Brussels on the 1st of March! For those who already purchased a ticket: Bijlmerbios will refund your money.

It's time for us to take matters into our own hands. A new cinema in the Bijlmer! For us, by us!


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