‘Enfant terrible of Flemish cinema’ Robbe De Hert dies

Flemish director Robbe De Hert has died at the age of 77.  De Hert had the reputation of being the ‘enfant terrible of Flemish cinema’ and is credited as being one of the pioneers of modern Flemish movies.

The son of a seaman De Hert was born in the UK during the Second World War. After the war the family returned to Antwerp where De Hert is gifted a movie camera.  His ambition is clear.  He wants to become a film star or a film director at the very least. On the advice of his school he is packed off to vocational school to learn the trade of an electrician. Fortunately for us, De Hert has other plans.

“My training as a film director took 15 minutes.  The time it took for the salesman to explain how the camera worked” he later explains.

At the end of the Sixties he produces his first short film starring Flemish author Louis Paul Boon. Later he established the left wing film collective Fugitive Cinema and plans to produce ‘social cinema’.

De Hert makes his name with “De Witte van Sichem”, a modern film version of the Flemish classic “De Witte” by Ernest Claes. De Hert concentrates on film versions of famous Flemish classic novels.  “It’s easier to find cash for films based on literature” he once confides.

In 1984 he directs the comedy classic “Zware Jongens”. “Blueberry Hill” with music by Jan Leyers and Paul Michiels is a big it in 1984. The friends from vocational school return in “Brylcream Boulevard” as the youngsters turn 25.

Crowdfunding and donations from the City of Antwerp and the Flemish government enable the release of “Hollywood aan de Schelde”, a documentary on the history of Flemish cinema, in 2018.

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