Amsterdam, 5 november 1965 - Bangkok, 5 april 2009
Deeply saddened we confirm that Fortissimo's company founder and co-chairman Wouter Barendrecht suddenly died on Sunday April 5 in Bangkok, Thailand.
Wouter's passing has shocked his family, his friends and colleagues around the globe.
His passion for cinema, his vision, his energy and his witty humor will be extremely missed by all of us.
On this Memorial website you can share your thoughts and memories with us.
The Fortissimo Family
We are sad. We feel we lost a great friend even though we didn't have the intimacy he shared with his closest friends, far from that. But Wouter was definitely part of our lives since we entered this industry many years ago. We cannot take our eyes away from his smile on this picture, how lively, how gentle. It is the very same smile that made us feel our job was after all quite a piece of cake and that we were lucky enough to be part of it. He was right. We will miss him tremendously.
My deepest condolences to his family and everyone at Fortissimo.
Wauter, When Nicole brought the news of your death, I was sitting in a sunny place having breakfast. I was in shock and found relieve in tears. A friend had passed away. I tried to forget, but now with thousands of emails arriving in preparation of Cannes, I finally realized that I will not meet you there. No beacon in this tempest of a market, which will lead my way to a place where I can talk cinema, while all around people talk money. You will not be there to demonstrate that one can happily be in our business with real emotions, humility, compassion and humor. You would strike a deal and say “thank you”. You fashioned a home for many of us and now we will look for it and not find it. We will feel lonely without you. We miss you. I hope you will enjoy the dark and the silence and rest in the vast unknown. Rainer Kölmel, Kinowelt International Starhaus Filmproduktion
Ik ben ontdaaan door het plotselinge overlijden van Wouter. Onbegrijpelijk en veel te jong. Ik ken hem vooral van zijn periode bij het Filmfestival in Rotterdam. Hij viel daar op en je kon vermoeden dat hij een 'grote' ging worden in de filmwereld. En dat is hij ook geworden. Ik voel mee met zijn familie en zijn collega's bij Fortissimo. Maarten Mulder, Directie Kunsten, Ministerie OCW.
Dear Wouter, I still cannot quite believe that you will not be in Hong Kong when I visit later in the Spring. I remember you at Rotterdam, telling me about setting up Fortissimo, and then later telling me about your plans to set up a branch office in Hong Kong. It all seemed like such a crazy idea at the time, but your instinct was always right. Wouter, you achieved more in your too too short lifetime than most of us ever will.
I still remember our first encounter at Pusan, 2003. It was only 10 days after I joined this industry and I was being very nervous, but you welcomed me with warm heart & little mischievous smile, which released my tension. I always enjoyed meeting with you and I still cannot take in the fact that you are gone. I am sure your passion for the film will stay in this world with your beloved Fortissimo team. ARIGATOU, Wouter! I will miss you so much.
As an outsider in Asia with a passion for Asian film, Fortissimo was a beacon for me. Among all the film companies I reached out to from Beijing on behalf of an as-yet-unknown mainland Chinese filmmaker, Wouter and Michael were the only ones who offered genuine feedback. Finally, with their encouragement and example, I could feel I was making a legitimate choice to take the leap from academia into film. I’ve saved their first correspondence, a touchstone of generosity and intelligence, to remind me of how I always hope to respond to others in this business – particularly those taking their first, tentative step with their first film project. Since then, every time I’ve returned to Asia, jet lagged and alone, or with film friends or family, Wouter has been there: relieving tension on a televised panel at the Golden Horse Film Festival in Taiwan; searching for a special seafood restaurant with thirty others on a tiny island off of Hong Kong; or running around town drinking and talking film. I cannot believe he’s gone so soon. Michael and Winnie, I’m adding my condolences to the overwhelming outpouring. I hope you and all those close to Wouter are holding up. This is so unbelievably sad. My thoughts are with you.
Dear Wouter, you were one of the first people from the international film community I met, close to 20 years ago! I remember so well our first discussion, you were so generous and passionate. I can’t imagine the coming Cannes without meeting you again, but I’m sure you will be somewhere around, smiling as usual. For sure we will miss you every day. All my love to Michael and the great Fortissimo family.
Lia van Leer
Dearly beloved friend, Since 1988 when you came to our festival, we spent happy moments here in Jerusalem where you liked so much to come as you yourself said: " It has been my honor and pleasure to have attended the Jerusalem Film Festival many times. Each time presented me with many wonderful memories and memorable experiences. Cinema is a voyage into the unknown;peering into cultures that are know, and little known to us and of which we are very keen to learn more about, both intellectually and emotionally. Sitting in our comfortable seats we travel into other people's countries, cultures and minds, all the while being in a place like Jerusalem, one of the world's great cities. To me this is the main attraction of cinema and there very few places in the world where this experience has more meaning for me than Jerusalem. A big hug and a tremendous bravo to Lia and her great team for always being an original and being the protector of this wonderful and meaningful event and to many more years to come!" We met in so many festivals Berlin, Cannes, Locarno, Venice, Tribeca< New York, Toronto and Rotterdam. In Amsterdam you used to take me to diner with your mother and called me "your jewish mother". Your intelligence Wouter, your generosity, your humour, always so sweet and caring. We will never forget you. You will live forever in the hearts and mind of all the people who loved you.
I could not quite put together the words that convey what a shock this is. And still cannot. I am sad that you have left so soon, way, way, way too soon. Hearing the “Happy Together” soundtrack on a loop every time Norman and I would step into the Fortissimo office in Cannes that year and the joy we all shared is something I will never forget. So many memories, so many films throughout the years... Your spirit and legacy live on.
Ira von Gienanth
Everytime i see a photo of you and your smiling face i feel so incredible sad that we won´t have you around us anymore. no fun breakfast meetings, no fun afterdrinks drinks in venice, no long discussions about films and festivals. you always gave a lot and working with you and all fortissimos was and is always such a pleasure. it is difficult to imagine the runaround without you, but we should keep to best of you with us: your neverdying curiosity and endless love for people and for films!
Jose Luis Cienfuegos, Fran Gayo and the Gijon Film Festival team
We feel Wouter's passing as a great loss for independent film. We are sad for that and hope his fine vision for talented young filmmakers will remain with our friends at Fortissimo and in the soul of the many festivals for which finding quality films for the programme was easier through his eyes
Dearest Wouter - the news is so hard to comprehend. So many happy memories. I will miss you a great deal - we all will.
Lieve Wouter, rust zacht Annemiek van Gorp Rene Goossens
if cinema is a state of heaven, then wouter is at home.
These many many messages reveal how many lives Wouter touched and what a void he leaves. I will always fondly remember his warmth, wit, generosity and passion and the support he gave my company as it first started in theatrical releasing. So sad to die so young, 43, my age. Wouter, you will be greatly missed.
You touched many lives in the industry we work in and many more in the audiences to whom you brought beautiful stories. You'll be greatly missed but thanks to your integrity and passion, you will be followed and emulated for years to come.
Your passion, personality and achievments are a great inspiration and will remain with us as such. Thank you.
Shocked and saddened to hear about the untimely passing of Wouter. It's a real loss for the film industry, his passion and dedication will be missed. Condolences to his family and friends!
wang xiao shuai
dear you,Wouter! why give us this shocked!I stoped thinking anything that day you left us and will keep on thinking only you for a long time!You will be in Chinese independent film history forever! love you and only you! xiaoshuai(tmd) in tears
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