Charlie’s debut documentary Over Roze Gesproken is about ‘pink elderly’, lgbti+ people over 60. One of the main characters in the documentary is Nell, a lesbian activist who was already active in the women’s movement in the 1970s. Together with her friends, Nell welcomed the filmmakers sincerely, says the Arts and Culture Studies student. “Those women found it wonderful. Nell went around with all kinds of snacks and while chain-smoking she started singing an anthem. At that moment, I thought, ‘Yes, I would really like to know more about you.'”

In the end, Charlie found three more main characters for the documentary: trans man Jos, Arie (who falls for men) and his wife Tonny. But there was much more enthusiasm among the pink elderly: “You could make 10 films like this with the same format, but with different stories.”


That enthusiasm, according to Charlie, is because lgbti+ people, especially the elderly, are very little represented in films. “I think, just like me, they feel there is very little recognition. When I watch films or series, or read books, I don’t really see myself as a non-binary queer person”, they say. Charlie themselves only had that recognition two years ago, when seeing a non-binary person in the film Anne+.  “The main characters have that too, maybe even worse than me. There was no internet in their time, of course, so they had to look for everything themselves and put a lot of effort into finding people who looked like them.”

The idea for the film came from two former students of the Willem de Kooning Academy, where Charlie studies Audiovisual Design. Richard van ‘t Hof and Jorick Buurstra later collaborated as editor and director of photography. During research for another documentary, they ended up at Het Roze Café, a meeting place for Rotterdam’s pink elderly. “There was a whole group of pink elderly people there that they thought, ‘Yes, of course these people exist, we just never see them’.”

Film festival

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‘When I watch films or series, or read books, I don’t really see myself as a non-binary queer person.’ Image credit: Hilde Speet

The filmmakers felt that the lack of representation of pink elderly people needed to be addressed. Soon, a plan emerged and Charlie was asked as director. The team wrote a film plan and sent it to several film funds. “Then we got the money and suddenly it was, ‘Wow, now we can actually make it'”, says Charlie.

The film is not a standard talking-heads documentary, where the main characters sit on a chair and tell their stories with a camera in their face: “That’s not interesting to watch, nor does it do justice to the stories.” Instead, Charlie and their team set up a pink studio, where the four main characters shared their stories together. In addition, the main characters were filmed in locations that illustrate the story: the pub where Nell meets with her activist friends, Tonny’s choir and the support group for young trans people that Jos mentors.

For Charlie, a scene at the end of the documentary captures the value of the film well. “Someone from the support group mentored by Jos says it gave her a lot of hope for the future to see an old transgender man. She saw: ‘There is a future for me’.”

On Monday, Over Roze Gesproken will be screened at the Nederlands Film Festival, one of the Netherlands’ premier festivals. A big thing for a student’s debut documentary. Yet Charlie remains cool about what comes next: “I’d love to tackle other projects, but I’m just going to graduate first, otherwise it’ll never happen.”


More information about all screenings can be found on the website.