Welcome to the website of documentary film director Susan Koenen.

I was born in 1974 in The Hague, The Netherlands. I am fascinated by non-famous people who can be a role-model to others. My aim is to inspire people and to broaden their view, because that is what a documentary should do, in my opinion.

If you are trying to reach me, please click CONTACT in the left menu, and fill out the form. The email will go straight to my inbox.

My latest film is Ahmad's Hair. Syrian refugee Ahmad (12) has just arrived in The Netherlands. While he is busy trying to integrate into Dutch society and to make Dutch friends, it turns out he's also on a heart-warming, personal mission. Great news: it has just won the audience award at the Thessaloniki Documentary Filmfestival 2017 in Greece!

There is a festival version of the film (23 minutes) and a shorter version for tv (16 minutes). On Sunday January 22nd, the short version was broadcasted on Dutch television. On October 15 the film premiered at Cinekid (Children's film festival)k and on November 23rd IDFA screened the film at Docs for Sale. The film has been selected at festivals in Greece, Portugal, Russia and South-Korea. Who knows which other countries might follow...

Would you like to watch the film to consider it for your festival, please send me a message by clicking on the 'contact' button. Thank you.

In 2014, I made two films: RING-A-RING O'RITALIN and BLACK & WHITE. Both films premiered on October 12 2014 at the Dutch Cinekid filmfestival. Both have screened in Israel in July 2015 at the Tel Aviv Children's Film Festival and at other filmfestivals around the world. Black & White was part of a series on Children's Rights (Just Kids). This series won the Kinderkast Best TV Production Award at Cinekid 2015.

The story of RING-A-RING O'RITALIN: Nike is a 7-year-old, touching and wise young girl. She has to take Ritalin at home and at school, due to an ADHD diagnosis. If she could decide for herself, she would quit these pills immediately, because Nike doesn't want to be different from her friends. 'Except for when someone gets her finger stuck between doors, then I do like to be a different person!' And the pills taste awful, that's another reason.
But a child cannot make her own decisions. That's what parents do.
Because she really insists on it, Nike is allowed to go to school without Ritalin for one day. She's hoping to show that she can do without it. Will that help to convince her parents?

The story of BLACK & WHITE: Jason (12) used to be bullied at school for years. Some children think he's weird because he is different. He doesn't like playing soccer, but prefers dancing and singing. The bullying had a big influence on Jason. Now he's on his own and finds it difficult to make friends and to trust other people. He looks at his class like it's a chess game: the white pieces are his friends and the black ones are the enemy. Jason wants to safely reach the other side, but how? He decides to write a song and he is hoping that this song will make his class understand his feelings. 

In 2013, I made THE RED APPLE (a.k.a. Merlijn en de rode appel). Merlijn (11) is a bright and cheerful boy. But he does not go to school because he has autism. A classroom full of children is too busy for him. At home, he enjoys making inventions and cartoons. His mother wants him to go back to school, but Merlin has his own plans for the future... This film has screened at the prestigious Chicago International Children's Film Festival, USA 2014 and is going to be screened at the Boston Kids Film Festival, USA 2014 and Mind Rights Film Festival Lisbon, Portugal 2014. The film has won the Best Personal Doc Award at the Atlanta Docufest.

In 2012, I made ALL OF ME. This film premiered on October 21, 2012 at the Dutch Cinekid Filmfestival. This is the story: 17-year-old Diede has been bullied in the past. She didn't have any friends and felt alone. She never wants to feel that way again. That's the reason why she tells nobody that she is able to see ghosts, not even her best friend Emma. Or should Diede actually tell her, even though it will put their friendship at stake? Will she take a chance? A film about the courage it takes to be special. In November, the film has been screened three times at IDFA Amsterdam 2012, where it had very successful screenings for an enthousiastic audience. On December 19 2012, the film has been broadcasted on Dutch TV at the public channel Nederland 3. If you are interested in viewing the film for consideration of selection for your festival, please send me a message and I can give you a password-protected link to the English subtitled film on Vimeo right away.I also made a follow-up on LAURA & ANNE 4 EVER, my film about 14-year-old Laura and her best friend Anne (13) who then recently died of leukemia. In this new film, LAURA & ANNE 4 EVER & EVER, Laura is 18 years old and she tells about the way she deals with the loss of Anne, how she thinks about death and how she tries to make something worthwile out of something so immensely tragic. Daan, Anne's younger brother, is now 16 - he now is older than his sister. He believes he grew stronger because of the loss of Anne. And he concluded that he has to enjoy life now, because it could stop, all of a sudden. It has been broadcasted on Dutch TV on December 9 at the public channel Nederland 3. Clicking the titles here will bring you to the English subtitled films. Two other films I made, are THE WILD WEST and I AM A GIRL! To watch these movies, simply click on the title. They both have English subtitles. 

I AM A GIRL! is currently traveling around the world and screened in 26 countries at filmfestivals such as FlickerFest (Australia), NYICFF (New York, USA), Lunafest (USA), WSFF and ReelShorts (Canada), Chicago International Children's Film Festival (USA), Curta Cinema (Brasil), LA FilmFest (USA), Ozu Filmfestival (Italy), Watch Docs (Poland), Kuki Filmfestival Berlin (Germany), IDFA (The Netherlands), Winterthur Short Filmfestival (Switzerland), TICFF (Taiwan), EDOC (Ecuador) and many others. That's an amazing experience. I am enjoying it very, very much because I think everybody should see Joppe and hear her inspiring story. 

Piet, the protagonist of THE WILD WEST is a man who created a very special lurking place for underprivileged children in a multicultural neighbourhood in Amsterdam. The film premiered at IDFA 2010, The Netherlands and has been produced by famous directors John Appel and Heddy Honigmann. The screenings at this festival were very successful: the film was highly ranked at the IDFA Audience Award Top 50. In the end, it reached a shared 15th position.

In 2008, I made LAURA & ANNE 4 EVER, a youth documentary about the eternal friendship between Laura and Anne, both 13 years old when Anne tragically dies of leukemia. The way Laura deals with this huge loss is highly remarkable. 

AWARDS

I won the Cinekid Kinderkast Audience Award 2009 with my film LAURA & ANNE 4 EVER, and the film was also nominated for the 'Beeld & Geluid Award 2009', the Pfizer Press Prize 2009 and it was finalist at the prestigious Children's Film Festival Prix Jeunesse in Munich, Germany.

I AM A GIRL! won nine awards: the Jury Award for Best Short Documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival 2011, the Panasonic Award for Best Short Documentary at the Worldwide Short Film Festival Toronto, Canada, the Audience Award ages 12-18 at the New York International Children's Film Festival 2012, the selection at LunaFest Filmfestival 2011-2012, the Youth Jury Award for Best Short Film at ExGround FilmFestival Wiesbaden 2011, Germany, the Teresa Pellati Award for Best Actress (exceptionally given to a non-fiction star: Joppe) at the Ozu Filmfestival 2011, Italy, the Jury Prize for Best Film at the Face à Face Filmfestival in St. Etienne, France 2012, an Honorable Mention at the LA Movie Awards 2012 (USA) and the Audience Award for Best Short Documentary at the TranScreen Film Festival 2011 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Quote from the Canadian jury: 'The winner of Best Documentary Short is a film that tackles a teenager's challenging transformation, using an effervescent approach to its music, cinematography and symbolism to portray a femininity and innocence that is unexpectedly accurate.'

Quote from the LA Film Festlval jury: 'For using gorgeous cinematography and energetic editing to capture a young woman's journey from biological maleness to forthright feminity, and for giving us a glimpse at an open-minded new generation with a better understanding of gender and sexuality issues than their parents ever dreamed, the jury presents the Documentary Short Film Award to Susan Koenen for I Am A Girl!'

This is what the Ozu Filmfestival jury said: "Despite the overall quality of the acting was extremely high, the jury decided to award a non-actress. The film is a documentary/interview, but in the acted parts Joppe showed the class and charisma of a real actress. Sweet and spontaneous, she produces strong emotions in the audience talking about such a complex issue with depth and lightness."