Directed by I AM HERE, Max Paschke, Maik Schuster, the short doc Kids of the Bims explores the story of the Bims, the Bijlmer; the history, its figureheads, subculture, and the fast-growing gentrification looming on the horizon. From traditional Surinamese music to Afro Beat, HipHop and more, we discover what shapes the new sound of the Bijlmer and how it affects the current social and cultural Dutch landscape.
Kids of the Bims is the closing film of the 5h edition of IN-EDIT NL and kicks off an evening of festivities starting with IN-EDIT IN SHORT Audience Award to the short music documentary. The film will be immediately followed by a Q&A with co-director Maik Schuster, Miguel Ferreira (Mr.Frank) and Angelo Bromet (protagonist), fore Amartey wraps things up with a special live performance.
Ahead of the film’s closing night screening, we spoke with the film’s co-director Maik Schuster on the motivations behind the film, a brief history of the Bims, and more.
Kids of the Bims is about many things, but what was the original aspect of its narrative that interested you?
As you say, it’s about a lot of things – and this mix of things really interested me. I’m into urban culture and music, so we wanted to feature the local creative scene and portrait their Bims-way of doing things. Coming from skateboarding, I always had a love for subculture and the so-called underdogs – and that’s what I saw here: The energy to create something for yourself despite all external factors that might work against it. I didn’t know much about the Bijlmer in the beginning. I wasn’t sure if we (my ex-directing partner and I) were the right people to make this film – but I connected with the DIY attitude and was fascinated by the Bijlmer people who ultimately assured us: This story needs to be told! Let’s try to capture it in a way that reflects our protagonists’ perspectives.
The Bijlmer is the most multicultural neighbourhood in Amsterdam. It was also the neighbourhood I first lived in when I moved to the city in 2014. For those who may not know, please briefly describe the neighbourhood and its history. For example, one interesting thing is that it is essentially an exclave of Amsterdam.
Yes, you’re right. It’s an exclave of Amsterdam. It was planned to be a futuristic new way of living in the 1970s – but the original plan failed. Following Suriname’s independence in 1975, many people migrated to the Netherlands. They needed affordable housing, and the Dutch government directed them to the Bijlmer because the houses were still empty. And this is how it all started – but please read about it, it’s a unique moment in time, and it is crazy to see how the Bijlmer keeps evolving its equally unique culture.
It’s a shame the government doesn’t support it as much.
What is your impression of the topic of gentrification in the neighbourhood now?
From what we saw, gentrification keeps growing and growing – and as always, it also brings chances for the locals. Still, it mainly brings higher prices for housing and living in general. Many of the locals don’t see the change happening for them but rather for people from the city of Amsterdam. Moreover, it’s happening on the back of the black community, which makes them feel unseen and disrespected.
Describe the visual style you were going for with the film? (How did your work with Mr Frank inform your documentary directing?)
We tried to find a language that speaks the language of our protagonists: Really real, close to what’s happening in the streets but also full of hopeful and dreamy moments. We wanted to create a layered feeling because the area and its people are diverse.
It was really a process of getting inspired in the Bijlmer and talking with the locals about how they see the area themselves. We also were lucky to work with the amazing Boas Van Milligen Bielke as our Director of Photography. He has a unique way of seeing things.
Kids of the Bims will be the closing night film of IN-EDIT NL 2023. It will also include a performance from Amartey. Can you speak about Amartey as an artist?
I don’t want to say too much, but Amartey really touched us with his goal to give back to the Bijlmer and to his people. That’s actually something all of the portrayed artists showed us. Amartey especially was a dream to work with because he made us sensitive to many aspects of the local culture, and we could even shoot with his and Berano’s mums. We’re really grateful for the trust!