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Documentary film alumna Visual Ethnography on show at Pakhuis de Zwijger

Wilke Geurds graduated from the Visual Ethnography master's programme last year with her intimate and vulnerable documentary 'F*ck Endo. More than just menstrual pain'. In this documentary, Geurds follows four women suffering from endometriosis and tries to understand what it is like to live with an invisible disease that 1 in 10 women are effected by. On Friday 26 May 2023, the film will be screened at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam, followed by a discussion with the Endometriosis Foundation, people with the disease and politicians.

The chronic condition endometriosis involves the growth of tissue, which resembles endometrium, outside the uterus, and can be very painful. This pain is often not visible, which can cause misunderstanding among outsiders. Geurds filmed not only at hospital visits, work and sports classes, but also in women's homes where an invisible world of pain unfolds in front of her camera.

Why did you make this documentary?

"Within the Visual Ethnography master's programme, you shape a self-chosen topic into an anthropological documentary. I don't have endometriosis myself, but when I heard that one in 10 women suffer from this disease, I knew I wanted to do something about it. How can it be that so many women have endometriosis, but until two years ago I knew nothing about the existence of this disease."

Documentary filmmaker and photographer Wilke Geurds

So, what did you do precisely?

"For a year, I followed Devina (28), Daphne (30), Margot (36) and Sanne (43) in their daily lives. I went with them to the hospital, to work and to the gym. Sometimes I stayed overnight with them so that, as an anthropologist, I could experience as much of their daily life as possible. That way, I tried to get an insight of the impact of endometriosis on their daily lives."

What lessons from the master contributed to making this film?

"The anthropological attitude and being aware of the ethical issues! And taking the time to get to know each other. We regularly talked about other things, like travelling, cooking or what keeps me busy in life. That's also how the women got to know me. I think it's important to give something of myself in there too, when other people dare to be so vulnerable in front of my camera."

Behind the Scenes: Wilke Geurds with Daphne and Dwayne

How did you manage to get your docu screened in Pakhuis de Zwijger?

"Just sending an email! I had to gather courage for a while, but I pitched my idea and they were enthusiastic!"

Do you have a tip for (prospective) students?

"Don't shy away from your dream! Go for it! I dream of becoming a documentary filmmaker. Now I've made my first documentary and it honestly still feels exciting to call myself a real documentary maker. I am searching for how to proceed next, but continue to believe in my dream. Tell other people what you want to do, pick up that camera and just go make something!"

What can anthropology contribute to society?

"Anthropologists take time for the world around them. They observe and listen to what is happening, are curious and have an eye for the other. This allows anthropologists to reveal aspects of life that might not be apparent or seem illogical to an outsider. It is precisely by taking your time that you get to a deeper layer. This allows you to capture other things on film and build a special bond of trust with your participants."

On Friday 26 May, the documentary F*ck Endo! will be screened at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam, followed by a discussion with the Endometriosis Foundation, fellow sufferers and politicians. Together, they will try to find an answer to the question: how do we create more understanding around endometriosis and work for change? Wilke Geurds will talk alongside Bianca de Bie (endometriosis patient and co-founder and chair of the Endometriosis Foundation). 

More information via Pakhuis De Zwijger. Participation is free, but do reserve a ticket!


Stills from the documentary

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