The Jousting Life

Monday, February 24, 2014

Vera Bos Talks about Her Upcoming Documentary "The White Bear"

Recently, this promo video for Vera Bos's upcoming documentary about the members of Stichting HEI was posted online:

Promo video for "The White Bear" (video by Vera Bos)
The complete documentary should be out around Christmas 2014.

When asked about how she became involved with Stichting HEI(here is theEnglish version of their website) and why she decided to create a documentary about them, Vera kindly responded with this lovely article.

Written by Vera Bos:

My name is Vera Bos. I am 21 years old, and I study photography at the Willem de Kooning academy in Rotterdam. Ever since I was 16, I have also been working at the Archeon, a historic theme park, where I give tours and teach both children and adults about one of the periods that is represented there. Ever since I was young, I've always had an interest with history. I think that was at first due to the storytelling aspect, but later, during my work at the park it became so much more.

Now, it's not just the storytelling part, or even just the the aesthetic aspect (physical findings and images that display a rich culture) of history that appeal to me, but rather the conceptual way of thinking it inspires. Using history as a mirror. And not a "Wow, look at how much better things are now" mirror. But more about putting life in perspective, and by extension, modern life. One of the things I learned is that "things change" and always will. This is one of the things that I want to teach the visitors of the park. But especially to make people enthusiastic about this wonderful thing called history, so that they one day may be open to the philosophical questions it raises.

While working at the park I got to know a few of the men of Stichting HEI. They were performing jousting shows there. We got along very well, and one day in 2012, I was asked to go with them as a photographer to a joust in Nyborg. It was wonderful -- the location, the show, the people -- and I made photos to my heart's content.

Jouster Alix van Zijl at Nyborg 2012(photo by Vera Bos)

When I got home, I realized I had a lot of pictures, and many different kinds of pictures as well. But no matter how I looked at them, they didn't convey what interested me about HEI. They were either beautiful on the surface, almost acting like a looking glass trough which you could momentarily catch a glimpse of the 15th century, or unnecessarily harsh, like I was trying to criticize these people. I went with them again in 2013 when I was older, my imagery sharper and my photography better. But still, I was missing the images I was trying to make.

Tent with Shadows at Nyborg 2013(photo by Vera Bos)

Then I decided that I had to try a different way. Photography is an extremely visual medium which gave me the urge to solely capture "the image" and "the illusion" and the beauty in it. But that is not what drew me to Stichting HEI in the first place. I wanted to tell something about these people. In fact, I wanted to let them tell their side of the story. The passion, the drive but also the consequences. By now, I've only uploaded the teaser trailer but I've got a good idea of how to give an honest insight in what drives them.

I had known the people from HEI for a while before I started this documentary. But, of course, because of this documentary and such extended contact, I got to know them better than I had before. They didn't so much surprise me with the hobby on it's own, but every time I talk to them they inspire me with their expertise, their enthusiasm and their drive for the thing they do. They are amazing people who have an incredible love for this craft and would love to reach more people. I'm also pleasantly surprised about how easily they work along with everything. Sometimes I'm calling one of them so often that I'm thinking "Aren't I annoying you guys by now"? Apparently not, they like what I do and they love to help me out.

Members of Stichting HEI(left to right): Sander Nicolai, Laurens, Bertus Brokamp
(photos by Vera Bos)

If there is anything I learned from making this documentary, it's the technical aspect, which frightened me initially. This is not a problem (even though the documentary is not yet perfect, I learn by doing), but telling a story using a different medium was indeed a new experience for me. I was used to making pictures, but telling a story works very differently in that area. I still have a lot to learn, but I have read a lot about this and have friends who can help me.

I hope is that this documentary doesn't just reach people who already have the same interests, but that it finds a larger audience. I want to show that Stichting HEI, and maybe reenactment as a whole, deserves a place in in this society and isn't just escapism. Even though people often call it that. I'd prefer that people who don't know a lot about historical reenactment or history think, in general, "Yeah, this a legitimate thing to spend your time on". Firstly, to teach people something, especially to wake their enthusiasm for history, and secondly, because it's a beautiful way to think about the past.

Vera Bos(photo by Maruschka Kartosonto)

The complete documentary, "The White Bear", will be finished around Christmas 2014. Look for an announcement.

1 comment:

  1. Only now I see that the portrait Vera made of me is in this article and that she misspelled my name (like often) as Laurends; it's Laurens, without the d. :)