Niels Bourgonje (1980) is an award-winning short film and commercial director based in Amsterdam. Niels graduated with the short thriller BURN, which was selected for several international film festivals winning numerous awards. Since then, his short films have consistently been selected for Academy Award qualifying festivals like Palm Springs ShortFest, Seattle International Film Festival, HollyShorts International Film Festival, Flickers’ Rhode Island International Film Festival, Odense International Film Festival, Izmir International Short Film Festival, Brussels Short Film Festival and Leuven Kortfilm. His most recent films, TURN IT AROUND and SWIPE, garnered over one hundred film festival selections. Niels signed with WME after the premiere of his new short SWIPE. His latest films are WOODLAND CEMETERY and BARRIER. He is currently developing his feature debut.
When I read the true story of the boy who swam for eight hours to help liberate The Netherlands, I was immediately stuck by the image of this boy who washed ashore, exhausted. It reminded me of so many refugees who are washed ashore on the beaches of Italy and Greece, trying to find a better life. Often they are greeted by men with guns, who in return treat them as the enemy. Even though the characters in BARRIER are now considered heroes, I really want to take a deeper look at what it means to be a hero. And how often this is based on split second decisions or just plain luck. No one in this movie is black or white; they are all grey characters. And since we are currently living in an age of fear, I feel like they are all very recognizable. Despite the fact their sacrifices seem so far removed from our lives.