IDFA - The European

An inside view of the hectic life of Dutch politician and diplomat Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission since 2014.

A screenshot of a WhatsApp message to Dutch politician Frans Timmermans: would he take part in a documentary? “Behind the scenes and up close” is how filmmaker Dirk Jan Roeleven describes the essence of his request. He follows Timmermans for nearly two years, from his appointment as Vice-President of the European Commission to the Brexit referendum.

The film moves at the swift pace of Timmermans’s life. We shift effortlessly from an interview with CNN, a visit to a refugee camp in Greece, a meeting with Ban Ki-moon and a deadline for Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad. Timmermans demonstrates that this doesn’t come at the cost of his family life when he buys some sneakers for his daughter during a summit in New York, and makes the time for a soccer game with his son. As he is filmed in taxis, planes and cheerless hotel rooms, he talks openly about his assertiveness, his own father’s absence and the qualities of a good diplomat. It becomes clear that the director really did get up close when after a long day, Timmerman wearily asks, “Do you maybe want to come to the toilet with me too?”