Documentary Film

Trying to look & listen.

karla’s arrival

Karla’s Arrival (2011)

The documentary Karla’s Arrival is in many ways the start of what might become my life work. I believe this is only the first film of two or three around the subject of motherhood and poverty. What’s more, in April of 2016 I am initiating a photo project on the same subject.

Karla’s Arrival came out in 2011 after a preparation and production period of eight years. It went on the play on national television in 14 countries, came out in the cinema in Spain, participated in over 45 film festivals and won four international awards. Today, it is still being used as educational material at universities around the world.

The film tells the story of 18 year old Sujeylin, who lives in a park in Nicaragua and is pregnant. When she delivers the baby, she initially plans on raising it right there, under a tree. Until it becomes clear that that is too dangerous. The story starts weeks before the birth and ends when baby Karla turns one.

produced by El Rayo Films (Madrid)
co-produced by ITVS International, Cobra Films & Daggewood Films
written & directed by Koen Suidgeest
producers: Emily Lobsenz & Koen Suidgeest
co-producers: Daniel de Valck & Anne Deligne
executive producer for ITVS: Sally Jo Fifer
line production: Martha Clarissa Hernández
camera: Koen Suidgeest
editor: Jan De Coster


Casting (2006)

Casting is a short documentary about the person behind the personality. Through a regular casting session, we witness the daily reality of actors – full of hope, dreams, humor, drama and tears.

As if in a psychiatrist’s practice, we become part of the daily struggle required to be selected for a part. In just 15 minutes, 35 actors impress us with stories about their lives in theatre, film, and as waiters or waitresses…. Casting is an homage to the actor, with a special nod to those who always stand in the background.

This short doc, one of my first projects as a director, was nominated for a Spanish Academy Award (Goya) in 2007 and went on to win numerous other prizes. Have a look for yourself below.

the endless caravan

The Endless Caravan (2004)

The Endless Caravan is my first ‘serious’ documentary as a producer and a writer, but not as a director. It was helmed by Ariane Mertens, who did an amazing job.

This documentary road-movie follows two 2nd generation Moroccans from Belgium during their intensive annual summer trip to Morocco. Underneath the surface of our young protagonists lingers an identity crisis which confronts them every day. The trip is a metaphor for a double-life with one foot in the West, and another in Morocco.

(pending upload of the film subtitled in English)

Cartel A4

produced for NMO, VRT, RTBF & 2M by El Rayo Films (Madrid)
directed by Ariane Mertens
producer: Koen Suidgeest
co-producers: Daniel de Valck & Anne Deligne
written by Ariane Mertens & Koen Suidgeest
camera: Dominique Henri
sound recordist: Thierry Tirtiaux
editor: An Francx

el color de un voto

El Color de un Voto (2007)

The Color of a Vote portrays the growing interest of politicians in the immigrant vote through the situation of the Romanians who live in Alcalá de Henares. Some 38,000 immigrants live in this town near Madrid, half of whom are Romanians. On May 27, 2007, this group was able to participate in municipal elections for the first time.

Originally created for Spanish national broadcaster LaSexta, the documentary is now freely available through the website of its producer, elegantmob films in Madrid through this link.

produced for LaSexta by elegantmob films (Madrid)
written & directed by Koen Suidgeest
producers: Juan Luis de No, Javier Gómez Serrano, Stéphane Grueso
producer for LaSexta: Luis Morales
camera & editor: Stéphane Grueso
music: Alfonso Arias

girl connected

Girl Connected (2016)

Five teenage girls from five countries show us how rewarding it can be to swim against the tide. In Bangladesh, Peru, Jordan, India and Kenya, each one of the five young women are an inspiration to others because they decided to follow their hearts and realize their dreams. In this documentary, each protagonist is an inspiration to her peers and sparks them into action in order to transform their own lives. We witness their day-to-day activities and learn about what encouraged them to challenge existing notions of gender inequality.

produced for ITVS by Kan Koen Media
written & directed by Koen Suidgeest
producers: Koen Suidgeest & Christi Collier
camera: Koen Suidgeest
sound recordist: Tjodi van Elk
editor: Phil Jandaly
music composer: Nicki Wells
sound designer: Hugo Dijkstal

out & about

Out & About (2016)

Out & About is a documentary that dives into the world of family members of LGBT’s in countries where being gay is illegal, or where strong stigmas exist. Of the entire social circle, it’s the parents in particular that experience the greatest dilemma, often feeling stuck between two worlds. They might even feel like they are ‘in the closet’ themselves.

Any parent wants their children to grow up in an environment where they feel protected and loved in order for them to develop into unique human beings. Yet too many cannot openly talk about their kids for fear of being discriminated against themselves, losing friends, or even jeopardising their own child’s safety.

Produced in Russia, Kenya and Indonesia, this 30 minute documentary will be used as an educational tool for parent groups all over the world.

More info:


produced for Human Rights in the Picture by Kan Koen Media
written & directed by Koen Suidgeest
producer: Koen Suidgeest & Nadja Houben
camera: Koen Suidgeest
sound recordists: Tjodi van Elk, Sorin Apostol, Nic Punk


Solo (2016)

Solo is a documentary about grief and campervans. Inspired by the story of my parents, the film follows a woman in her sixties. When she loses her husband, she is left behind with their camper. Learning to drive and manage the vehicle is like learning to navigate life itself now that her husband is not around anymore to support her.

Expected to premier in the fall of 2016, Solo offers an emotional story which brings the process of mourning to life through the metaphor of the ups and downs of a road trip.

rij 2

produced for IKON by IDTV Docs (Amsterdam)
written & directed by Koen Suidgeest
producer: Carolijn Borgdorff
creative producer: Suzanne van Voorst
executive producer: Jorinde Soree
production manager: Anne Blom
camera: Peter Lataster
sound recordist: Tjodi van Elk
editor: Jan De Coster


m/f/x (2019)

In the documentary film, m/f/x, we meet a transwoman in Honduras, a transman in Vietnam and a transgender non-binary person in the Netherlands. The film is a positive movement towards openness, inclusiveness, dignity and recognition.

Produced for Human Rights in the Picture and financed by Hivos, this 30 minute film will be used worldwide for education and activism.

More info:

produced for Human Rights in the Picture by Kan Koen Media
financed by Hivos
written & directed by Koen Suidgeest
producer: Koen Suidgeest & Nadja Houben
camera: Koen Suidgeest

kulinga mawa

Kulinga Mawa (2018)

Kulinga Mawa is a documentary about population growth in Malawi. Its astronomical average birth rate of 5,6 per mother, and the fact that girls start delivering babies by the age of 15, is the country’s most serious threat. This film, which title means ‘For the sake of tomorrow’, will be taken on an extensive tour through rural villages in order to educate people about family size and spark debate about the issue.

The film is currently in post-production and will become available in the summer of 2018. It is financed by the permanent representation of the European Union in the country.

produced for the EU by Kan Koen Media (Leiden)
written, produced & directed by Koen Suidgeest
executive producer for the EU: Lena Veierskov
production manager: Owen Mhango
music composed by Faith Mussa