Heddy Honigmann (1951-2022), a child of Holocaust survivors, was born in Peru, where she studied biology and literature at the University of Lima. She left in 1973, traveled throughout Mexico, Israel, Spain and France, and later studied film at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome. She eventually became a Dutch citizen and settled in Amsterdam.
As the child of exiles, it's not surprising that the plight of exiles and outsiders is a recurrent theme in her documentaries, as is memory, music and love. Her subjects have included cab drivers in Peru, immigrant musicians on the Paris Metro, senior citizens in Brazil, and Cuban exiles in New Jersey.
In addition to the elegantly composed imagery of her films, Honigmann's most often recognized talent as a documentary filmmaker is her ability to make an emotional connection with the people she films, an empathetic ability to listen and to elicit surprisingly intimate responses from them. As Honigmann has described her approach, "I don't do interviews. I make conversation."
This quality has also been noted by Jytte Jensen, Associate Curator in the Department of Film and Media at the Museum of Modern Art. "An endlessly curious offscreen presence, Honigmann teases out the complex, astonishingly resilient, and often funny aspects of people's amazing lives. Her questions are direct and compassionate but persistent—like those of an old, dear friend."
Honigmann's body of work has been honored with retrospectives at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Cinema Arsenal in Berlin, the Madrid Film Museum, the Pacific Film Archive in San Francisco, and the Paris Film Festival, among many other venues. Her films have won major awards at film festivals around the world, including the Golden Gate Award at the San Francisco Film Festival, the Golden Pigeon at the Leipiz Film Festival, the Grand Prix at the Cinema du Réel in Paris, the Jury Prize at the Montreal World Film Festival, the Dutch Film Critics Award (twice!), and the J. Van Praag Award from The Humanist Association, which recognized her entire body of work, in which "important universal themes such as survival are developed in a unique filmic form."
Directed by Heddy Honigmann • Documentary • 2018 • 86 minutes
In this poignant and carefully composed portrait of six service dogs and their owners, renowned documentary filmmaker Heddy Honigmann explores the close bond between animal and human. Honigmann questions the owners in her characterist...
Directed by Heddy Honigmann • Documentary • 2006 • 95 minutes
Through a leisurely tour of the world-famous Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, the final resting place for legendary writers, composers, painters and other artists from around the world, FOREVER provides an unusually poignant, emotiona...
Metal and Melancholy
Directed by Heddy Honigmann • Documentary • 1993 • 80 minutes
This documentary is an offbeat "road movie" in which acclaimed documentarian Heddy Honigmann travels with, and thereby discovers the stories of, taxi drivers in Lima. In the early 1990s, in response to Peru's inflationary economy and ...
Directed by Heddy Honigmann • Documentary • 2008 • 93 minutes
The latest documentary from Heddy Honigmann (Forever, Metal and Melancholy, O Amor Natural) focuses on Peru's capital city of Lima.
OBLIVION provides intimate and moving portraits of street musicians, singers, vendors, shoeshine boys...
O Amor Natural
Directed by Heddy Honigmann • Documentary • 2007 • 76 minutes
O AMOR NATURAL is a documentary film about the erotic poetry of one of the greatest Latin American poets of the 20th century, the Brazilian Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987).
The erotic poems of Carlos Drummond de Andrade, a hou...
The Underground Orchestra
Directed by Heddy Honigmann • Documentary • 1999 • 108 minutes
THE UNDERGROUND ORCHESTRA is a glorious documentary profile of musicians who play on the sidewalks of Paris and in the Metro. Filmmaker Heddy Honigmann (METAL AND MELANCHOLY and O AMOR NATURAL), illuminates the lives and music of a r...