Looking back, looking forwards
In late 2013, Joeri Pruys (communications & brand manager for Rotterdam, I Love You), my assistant and I set off for Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The purpose of our journey was to meet our South American counterparts in the international series Cities of Love and learn from their approach. We also visited the film set and spoke at length with the filmmakers because – as passionate filmmakers first and foremost – our love of filmmaking never diminishes!
It was, by all definitions, a veritable adventure. The long journey was relatively smooth and we soon enough found ourselves in the heart of Rio. A world and a weather state away.
We met with Emmanuel Benbihy, my mentor and the godfather of the Cities of Love franchise in every way, who had already gone native and expertly showed us the best places to be, to see, to eat, to drink and even to dance (what a sight we must have been, untanned and pasty white).
In the daytime, we took meetings and went on set. In the evenings we explored the many walks of life the city has to offer. For me one of the most pleasant aspects (of an already very pleasant trip) was befriending several of the Rio, I Love You crew – with some of whom I’ve stayed in touch.
So far so moviemaking.
Unbeknownst to many at the time, the real purpose of our trip was educational. Rotterdam, I Love You was in the mid-development stage and Rio, I Love You - or Rio Eu Te Amo as it’s locally known – is the first edition in the series to be more than ‘just’ a movie. This would be the pioneering edition for how Cities of Love projects would be made in the future. More than ‘just’ an international feature-length movie which will play in cities all over the world (which is, in my heart of hearts, still a very special thing).
These projects can – and now do – represent so much more than that. We realized some time ago that the scope to do good and affect major positive change on a city wide level is significant. And Cities of Love is making massive headway. I’m proud to say that some of the plans we have for Rotterdam and how it’s perceived on an international level in the coming years are ambitious and incredible. The impact we will have on Rotterdam culture, education, sport, charity, tourism and its many various social strata will be immense.
It can only happen with the support of echte Rotterdammers – and it has been invigorating to see the extent to which that support already exists. Individuals and institutions alike have joined us. You can as well, on the website, or on social media.
In the meantime, I look forward to posting my own personal perspectives & stories on the Rotterdam, I Love You blog (a blog to which anyone can contribute on any topic – as long as it’s Rotterdam related!). My plan is to reveal a little more of the history and behind-the-scenes with every post.
There’s a lot to come. It’s our turn. A real Rotterdam adventure. I hope you’ll join us: I look forward to getting to know you better. Thanks for reading.