Gerard Mosterd

Leonard Retel Hemrich

Sunday, 7/30/2023.

This afternoon I was invited to attend a commemoration in Amsterdam of the unsurpassed filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich (1959-2023).

Recently I was in Switzerland and shocked the WhatsApp message from his sister Hetty that Leonard has passed away. In a way, in addition to the deep sadness, there was also a sense of relief, because Leonard lived like a greenhouse plant for years after a serious accident.

What an amiable, brilliant, innovative, in-depth, original, inspiring and entertaining person he was.

Leonard is undisputedly a famous Dutchman. In addition to much sought-after international award-winning film director, single shot cinema pioneer, professor at world universities, Academy Award jury member also an extremely honest and humble human being. Not an inflated ego at all as you would normally expect from genius talents of his rare caliber.

For me personally, an exceptional and devoted friend. Conversations with him were without exception interesting and intense. He always knew how to make time for me.

For years he gave me his keys to his modest apartment on the Overtoom on loan.

A place where I regularly stayed to develop two original single shot dance film projects with him. Both thoroughly worked out on paper with budget and supporting producer. At a time of Halbe Zijlstra's far-reaching budget cuts, we would both be looking for the moment to make these films.

In the end, however, these films were unfortunately never realized. Leonard rushed to Lebanon for a refugee film project. That's where disaster struck. A few days after our last skype session, Leonard crashed and fell into a coma. Eventually he regained consciousness in the Netherlands. However, the resulting brain damage was so severe that Leonard would remain confined to a wheelchair, motor impaired and unable to speak. Incomprehensibly tragic. His girlfriend Serena turned out to be a godsend and lovingly cared for him until his last moment.

I will miss the many deep and sometimes very humorous conversations over years, about Indonesia where we both spent a long time, about the performing arts and film world in the Netherlands, the Indian problems, our airwheel sessions, visits to his brother, the late Anton, the single shot cinema lessons and the single shot - airwheel demonstrations at the IDFA and the Amsterdam Film Academy that I performed together with him at his request.

Several times I visited him with his sister Hetty in Breda and Tilburg. Our friendly click remained unchanged. I wish Serena and his dear family a lot of strength with this great loss

Although his remarkable, award-winning films have already made him immortal, a special person like Leonard, for those who have been lucky enough to get to know him personally, will live on in our hearts forever.

Have a good trip dear Leonard and thank you infinitely.

Foto: Hetty-Naaijkens Retel Helmrich.