It was quite an adventure: showing an unfinished version of Silent Snow to the UN. But when you get a last minute invitation to open a conference where top environment experts from all over the world get together to discuss the exact topic of our documentary, it’s just an offer you can’t refuse. So on February 19 – my birthday – I flew to Nairobi with some promotion material and a DVD with an uncorrected, and yet- to be mixed, version of the film.


When I get there, the conference itself is a complete chaos, with many strict rules that don’t seem to work at all. Local friends who wanted to subscribe for this world premiere in the last week before the conference were told they couldn’t, but later on they manage to get in anyway. For me it takes about two hours to I get in. The receptionists just hang around, waiting for orders, but it is unclear where these should come from. Thanks to the help of UNEP’s Jan Betlem, who suddenly recognizes someone, I eventually obtain two badges. Jan tells me to keep them both, as you never know which one I will need to get my passport back.


After handing out picture postcards to the conference visitors, it turns out there are actually hundreds of people in the gigantic hall, waiting for the film to start. De Dutch Ambassador, Leatitia van den Assum, gives the perfect introductory speech on the dangers of pesticides; the ‘dirty dozen’ that are by now even nineteen and will probably soon be twenty. After that, I welcome the audience and ask them to email me examples of actions taking place in their own countries for our, which will soon be available in several languages.


When I’m done with my introduction I get a seat in front of the hall, where I’m unable see the reactions from the audience. Yet, watching the screen, I see one horror after the other. Some times there is too much sound, sometimes almost none. I see mistakes in the subtitles and the closing credits are beautiful, but totally unreadable. If only I would have had the time to correct the latest version! I see someone walking away with his telephone and I whish I could silently disappear myself.


But after the final closing credits there was a prolonged applause, one of the longest in my career! And after, when I hold up the picture postcard of Silent Snow to remind the audience of their publicity tasks, the clapping starts again. When we get out of the hall, people actually stand in line to come over and thank me. I even have to have to hand out some autographs and there are emotional reactions from many visitors, who promise me to support and promote the film in their own countries.


In the following days I have many pleasant and useful encounters, receive positive emails from the US, Japan and even Jordan, together with invitations to come and show the film there, like in New York next May. But first, I have to get back to the Netherlands to work hard on the final version of the film. Activist and experts already loved it, now we have the rest of the world to conquer. The European premiere will take place this month: March 27, 19:00h on the ‘Movies that Matter’ festival in The Hague.

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