Project Description

SHEEP HERO documentary Top 10 best of IDFA
  • SHEEP HERO awards Ton van Zantvoort
  • SHEEP HERO documentary
  • sheep hero documentary

SHEEP HERO

Shepherd Stijn has a romantic world view, but his idealism clashes with the harsh reality of having to be a modern entrepreneur. In this poignant and cinematic documentary we come close to Stijn and his family in their quest to keep the tradition of sheep herding alive. Will his struggle pay off or is he forced to go with the flock?

director: Ton van Zantvoort
producer: NEWTON film | seriousFilm
broadcaster: Omroep Brabant | KRO-NCRV
distribution nl: Windmill Film Distribution
world sales: Films Transit International
language: Dutch | English subtitles
length:
81 minutes | 58 minutes
format: UHD 3840 x 2160 | DCP 2K flat, 5.1, 1:85, 25 fps
ISAN: 0000-0004-D799-0000-O-0000-0000-2
categories: Human interest, environment, neoliberalism

SHEEP HERO trailer

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logline

How to live in a world that conflicts with your ideals?
A traditional shepherd is forced to innovate in a neo-liberal world that conflicts with his idealistic views.

synopsis (61 words)
Shepherd Stijn has a romantic world view, but his idealism clashes with the harsh reality of having to be a modern entrepreneur. In this poignant and cinematic documentary we come close to Stijn and his family in their quest to keep the tradition of sheep herding alive. Will his struggle pay off or is he forced to go with the flock?

synopsis (113 words)
SHEEP HERO is a 81-minute cinematic documentary about a traditional shepherd who is forced to innovate in a neoliberal world that conflicts with his idealistic views. With no voice-over the  story is told in a cinematic and observational cinema vérité style. The film shows the hardships of herding sheep and the harsh reality of a contemporary entrepreneur trying to keep his business going. Will his struggle pay off or is he forced to go with the flock?

SHEEP HERO got selected by more than 75 (renowned) international film festivals and won a dozen awards already. Ton van Zantvoort did not only direct the film, but also did production, cinematography, editing, grading and more.

synopsis (187 words)

SHEEP HERO tells the story of Shepherd Stijn, an outspoken idealist who may have been born in the wrong place and era. He feels at home on the quiet heathlands tending his sheep, far away from today’s hectic Western society. Stijn and his family fight to maintain their quiet and simple life, but this is proving to be increasingly difficult in a densely populated, modern world where the power of money and mass production outweighs good intentions and slow traditions. The family is heading towards a turning point: they can either continue their downward spiral or throw in the towel.

The documentary starts from the romantic idea of living a mindful life as a sheep herder, but then clearly reveals the frustration of a non-conformist who is only trying to live his own life. The beautiful images and storyline of the documentary clearly depict the constant physical and mental struggle of the protagonist as he tries to strike a balance between his ancient profession and being a modern-day entrepreneur. Stijn has to make a choice, does he keep on fighting the system or is there another option?

Worried look

synopsis IDFA (168 words)
About 10 years ago, filmmaker Ton van Zantvoort got to know Stijn, an idealist with a cheerful, relaxed nature. Stijn is one of the last remaining Dutch shepherds working in the traditional way. We see the shepherd, his sheep and his three loyal dogs crisscrossing nature reserves and farmlands so the herd can graze the land in an eco-friendly way. But nowadays, little remains of the romance and peace that we associate with the centuries-old tradition of sheepherding. Tenders are increasingly hard to acquire—competition from big companies, cheap East European shepherds and smart machinery make Stijn the expensive choice.

With the camera in his wake, the shepherd roams across picturesque Dutch landscapes, talking passionately about his inventive approaches to preserving his traditional occupation. But even as he tries so hard to keep his company afloat, the same camera captures how the incessant stress transforms him into an embittered man with a quick temper. Tragicomic conflicts alternate with scenes of beautiful nature and Stijn’s pleasantly chaotic family life.

synopsis (294 words)

Ten years ago, director Ton van Zantvoort became friends with one of the last traditional shepherds in the Netherlands. He had a perfect life: a loving wife, a flock of sheep, and was living in nature as we all once did and often still long for. Throughout the years the filmmaker noticed how the relaxed, cheerful and passionate shepherd was becoming bitter and increasingly short-tempered. A traditional shepherd losing his hair overnight, because of extreme stress: what a paradox. Was herding sheep not supposed to be the most relaxed and romantic profession in the world? ‘The silent heath is no longer quiet. There is a war going on in the heathlands’ and so the story began.

Stijn’s environment is closing in on him. In an overregulated society his quest for freedom is a struggle almost too hard to bear. His resentment is palpable, but there is also his stubbornness and determination to see it through to the end. He wants to keep his herd and the heathlands healthy and faces many obstacles along the way. Who looks out for the cultural heritage that is sheep herding? And are we able to salvage beauty amongst all our freeways and advancing industrial zones and suburbs. Life will be irrevocably different if the herd goes, as with it the craft will also vanish. Is it too late to save Stijn’s dream?

With no voice-over and very little interviews, this 81-minute cinematic story is told in an observational cinema vérité style. Where Stijn goes, the camera follows and, as in direct cinema, we become unaware of the camera’s presence.

The feature-length documentary shows the hardships of herding sheep in today’s neoliberal world and the harsh reality of a contemporary entrepreneur trying to keep his business going. Anything but a dream job. Will his struggle pay off or is he forced to go with the flock?

SHEEP HERO synopsis

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Director’s statement

Many years ago I met Stijn, one of the last traditional shepherds in the Netherlands. Throughout the years, I noticed how the relaxed, cheerful and passionate shepherd became bitter and short-tempered. A traditional shepherd losing his hair overnight, because of extreme stress. How paradoxical. Was herding sheep not supposed to be the most relaxed and romantic profession in the world? ‘The silent heath is no longer quiet. There is a war going on in the heathlands,’ Stijn said to me and so the story began.

We live in a world that is determined by economic laws and this has penetrated deeply into one of the most romantic professions in the world. In many ways I am like Stijn. We both live in a neoliberal world, which is at odds with our ideals. I too chose an insecure, creative existence because of my ideals. In my own way I try to contribute to a better world by making films about these topics. I too am a little entrepreneur who cannot escape innovation. Wouldn’t we all like to go back to nature, to real life, to what it’s all about? But how far should you go to try and realise your ideals? And isn’t it easier to just follow the herd?

I see the world around me as a visual, narrative source. Looking at, wondering about and consciously experiencing what is happening around me is a feeling I am trying to instill in the audience. As a filmmaker I look for themes that may seem to only represent small and everyday issues, but I use them to discuss bigger, universal themes. Not in order to make a didactic statement but to encourage viewers to think about themselves, about the world we live in and about what binds us as people.

My films are about people I meet; about the world we live in and how small it has become. Looking back at my films, many protagonists share the same motivation. They are all trying to live and realise their dreams. People who hold up a confronting mirror to us in our relatively carefree existence. These people suffer consequences of our capitalist economy, which can only be maintained if there is sufficient growth and profit. It is a paradigm of infinite growth on a finite planet. Although a growing number of people realise this, there are only few who actually do something about it. People who go against the current, or strive for their ideals, regardless of the cost. This is what appealed to me when I met Stijn. He made a conscious choice for a different, more sustainable lifestyle. But is such a lifestyle still an option in our current society?

Ton van Zantvoort Filmmaker
Ton van Zantvoort

TON van ZANTVOORT

PRODUCER | DIRECTOR | CINEMATOGRAPHER | EDITOR

Ton van Zantvoort (Heesch, 1979) is an acclaimed director, cinematographer and editor, whose films have screened at numerous prestigious A- film festivals. His work has been broadcast all over the world (VPRO, ARTE/ZDF, Al Jazeera) and he has won a dozen awards for best director, best cinematographer and best editor.

name: Ton van Zantvoort
production company: NEWTON film | newtonfilm.nl
other websites: www.sheephero.nl | www.schapenheldfilm.nl | tonvanzantvoort.nl
other: IMDB | Facebook | LinkedIn

Education
1999- 2003 Art Academy St. Joost, Audiovisual. diploma obtained with credit
1996- 1999 Grafisch Lyceum Eindhoven, Art-direction. diploma obtained
1991- 1996 HAVO, Maaslandcollege Oss. diploma obtained

Biography

Ton van Zantvoort (Heesch, 1979) graduated with credits at the Academy for Visual Arts in Breda in 2003. In 2006, his debut film GRITO de PIEDRA premiered at IDFA and was broadcast by ARTE/ZDF and other stations. His second feature a BLOOMING BUSINESS, a co-production with the Dutch VPRO, was screened at hundred (renowned) international film festivals, broadcasted worldwide and won a dozen awards, such as at DOK Leipzig. In 2016 his controversial documentary, the BENNO TAPES, won a Golden NL Award.

As with his acclaimend movie SHEEP HERO (81 minutes, 2018), he was not only responsible for (co-) production and directing for all these above mentioned films, but Ton van Zantvoort also did the cinematography, editing, grading, artwork and more. SHEEP HERO was selected by more than 70 renowned international film festival (such as IDFA, Thessaloniki, Vision du Réel, DOK.fest, GZDOC, DOCNYC) won dozen s of awards and nominations and got a theatrical release in several European countries. Besides longer films van Zantvoort has made dozens of short (art) films, gives master classes at (art) academies in Europe and Canada and was a jury member for several international film festivals and for organisations such as Panasonic International.

In addition to producing his own documentary films, van Zantvoort has also produced documentaries for other directors: DAY is DONE* by acclaimed director Guido Hendrikx (premiered at IDFA), FALLING (EO) by Jef Monté, a feature length film about the enigmatic artist Dick Verdult.  (Omroep Brabant) More recently, Like a dog (with KRO-NCRV) and The Hole In My Life (with EO).

About the director

Ton van Zantvoort observes with great attention and takes us into the worlds of people on the edge, people who try to survive but are confronted by external forces such as tourism, international commerce and mass consumption. With great humanity, van Zantvoort shows us a different world in which all human life is valuable. His films are characterized by a language of intimate images, a poetic structure and enormous involvement. In his lyrical documentaries with socio-economic overtones he usually resists the temptation of doing interviews. His work is original and testifies to a great effort of will by the maker. The vision of a Western civilized person who holds up a mirror to us. A confronting mirror, but one that invites you to take a long good look.

Filmography

Filmography as director (selection)
ALL OF US, 85 min, in production
SHEEP HERO, 81 min, in co-production with seriousFilm, 2018
THE BENNO TAPES, 54 min, with Van Osch Films, 2015
Kees en Mien, 30 min, in co-production with Zuidenwind film, 2011
a BLOOMING BUSINESS, 52 min, co-production VPRO, 2009
GRITO de PIEDRA, 55 min, 2006
other films: Past as future, 18 min, 2011; Lovely Planet, 8 min, 2009; Carrousel, 7 min, 2010; Another day in Bombay, 10 min, 2007; Isla Totora, 10 min, 2007; Pack, 5 min, 2005; Moja Mbegu, 5 min, 2004; Items, 25 min, 2003, Khamuvillage, 25 min, 2003

Filmography as producer (selection)
The Hole In My Life, 55 min, directed by Xavier van Delft, in development
Like a dog, 25 min, directed by Josefien van Kooten, in production
Dick Verdult, 70 min, directed by Luuk Bouwman, 2017
FALLING, 25 min, Teledoc Campus, directed by Jef Monté, 2014
Loving Heart, 71 min, directed by Wouter Verhoeven, 2013
Day is Done*, 30 min, directed by Guido Hendrikx, 2010

Director’s awards

Special Jury Award, Cinema Vérité, Iran, 2019
Best International Documentary Award, FICMA, Mexico, 2019
Best International Documentary Award and Audience award, NIFF (Nederland), USA, 2019
2nd Best International Feature film, Fiorenzo Serra Film Festival, Italy, 2019
Honourable mention, Cine Eco Seia, Portugal, 2019
Award of Excellence: Film Feature Accolade Global Film Competition, USA, 2019
Best Documentary Film, NYCA New York Cinematography Awards, USA, 2019
Honourable mention, Festiver Festival Barichara, Colombia, 2019
Green Warsaw Award, Millennium Docs Against Gravity, Poland, 2019
Best European Cinematography award, European Cinematography Awards/ ECA, 2019
Distribution award La Trois, Millennium Documentary Festival, Belgium 2019
Best Film and Best Director, NVIFF, The Netherlands, 2019
Top 10 best of IDFA audience award, IDFA, The Netherlands, 2018
Golden NL-Award, the Netherlands, 2016
NL Award, the Netherlands, 2016
Trevignano FilmFest Award, Italy, 2013
Honourable mention, best short, Planet in Focus, Canada, 2011
Jury award, FIFDH, France, 2011
Audience award, The Art of the Document, Poland, 2010
Special jury mention, The Art of the Document, Poland, 2010
Golden Olive, best documentary, Int Festival Montenegro, 2010
Golden Olive, best cinematography, Int Festival Montenegro, 2010
Audience award, Millennium Film Festival, Belgium, 2010
Press award, best film of the FICA festival, Goiás, Brazil, 2010
Best Treatment, Cinema Planeta, Cuernavaca, Mexico, 2010
Healthy Workplaces Award, DOK Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany, 2009
Special mention Open Eyes, Med Film festival, Rome, Italy, 2009
Audience award Mixed Greens, Planet in Focus, Canada, 2009
Honourable mention, Media city 13, Visual Art Festival, 2007
2nd price NFTVM award, for best new Dutch filmmaker, 2006
4th price 1 minute & sound award 2006/ dogs
Nomination for St. Joost Penning/ 2003

Ton van Zantvoort - SHEEP HERO documentary snow

Festival screenings (selection)

National – IDFA International Documentary Film Festival, Amsterdam (2018, 2010, 2006, 2005); Dutch Film Festival, Utrecht (2014, 2009, 2007, 2005);

Europe – DOK Leipzig, Germany; Visions du Réel, Switzerland, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Greece (2009,2019); DOK.fest, München, Festival dei Popoli, Italy; Documenta Madrid, Spain; Millennium Docs Against Gravity, Poland; Docpoint Helsinki, Finland; Edinburgh International Film Festival, UK; Docville, Belgium; One World Prague, Czech Republic; Dokufest, Kosovo; MakeDox Macedonia; Moldox, Moldavia; European Film Festival Palić, Serbia; Eberswalde Film Festival – Provinziale, Germany; Art of the Document Multimedia Festival, Poland; Split International Festival of New film, Croatia; International Millennium Film Festival, Belgium; International Film Festival for Human Rights, various locations in France; International Audiovisual Festival of Biodiversity, Italy; Kinookus FFF, Croatia; Sunchild Film Festival, Armenia; This Human World, Austria; Jihlava IDFF, Czech Republic; CineEco Portugal;

World – Vancouver International Film Festival, Canada; Planet in Focus, Toronto; Montreal Human Rights Film Festival; Margaret Mead Film Festival & travelling selection, New York, Chicago, Florida, Vermont, Indiana; BAFICI Buenos Aires; DOCSMX Festival Internacional de Cine Documental, Mexico; Animal & Nature Film Festival, Beijing, China; Film Festival Arlington, Virginia, USA; Duke City DocFest, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA; Criterio Ambiental, Costa Rica; Short Film Festival, Moscow; International Documentary Festival, Agadir, Morocco; Green Film Festival, Seoul, Korea; New Zealand International Film Festival; Flahertiana International Documentary Festival Russia; BIFED, Turkey; Festiver Festival Barichara, Colombia,

Miscellaneous(selection)

NEWTON film BV – creative documentary production, founder and Majority Shareholder 2006 – present
DOCfeed, Artistic advisor & volunteer, 2015- present
Stichting TEEK president : this foundation supports film makers who try to push the boundaries. (2008- present)
Guest teacher (directing, documentary, cinematography, editing 2006-present) at HKU Media Utrecht, St. Joost Acadamy Breda, Koning Willem 1 College ‘s-Hertogenbosch , Mgr. Frencken College Oosterhout, DOCedu, Sparkle (Eindhoven)
Masterclasses taught at Planet in Focus (Toronto); University of Manitoba, Canada; 3-day master class taught together with Cherry Duyns under the supervision of Jan Eilander at Dziga Nijmegen
Jury member at various (inter)national film festivals, including:
International Film Festival Montenegro (with Marija Perovic, among others), 2011
International Film Festival Breda (with Monic Hendrikx & Marc de Cloe), 2010
Filmfront Festival, Gorinchem (with Hans Eijses), 2010
Panasonic International LUMIX award, commissioned by Scholz & Volkmer (with Michael Lum & Fred Flade), 2010-2011

Publications (selection)

Publications, reviews and interviews in all national Dutch newspapers and periodicals, and on news sites, including Trouw, NRC, Volkskrant, AD, Telegraaf and Filmkrant, Brabants Dagblad, BN de stem, Nu.nl, De Groene A’dammer, EVA, KONKAV, virtually all Dutch TV guides, and in international newspapers and film festival publications, including EDN DOX magazine, Modern Times Review, Eye For Film, IDFA daily papers, Dutch Film Festival paper, etcetera.

TV and radio interviews (selection)

VPRO Best of IDFA NPO, Al Jazeera World, Sky Movies (UK), ArmNews (Germany), ET1 (Greece), NPO2 Radar (the Netherlands), Een vandaag (the Netherlands), TV10 (Dutch regional broadcaster), Radio Deutsche Welle (Germany), Radio Klara VRT (Belgium), Omroep Brabant Radio (Dutch regional broadcaster), Dit is de Dag EO (the Netherlands).

 

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