Esther Hertog is a freelance anthropological documentary filmmaker, researcher and stills photographer.
Esther Hertog, born in 1978 in Amsterdam, grew up between the ages of 11 to 24 in Israel. She returned to the Netherlands to study Cultural Anthropology at Amsterdam University. Her student film ‘Ossama’s Dance’ about a gay male Palestinian belly dancer, screened at international film festivals. She later received an MA from the Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology at Manchester University. In her studies she focused on nationalism, identity, education in relation to the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.
After graduation Esther worked as camerawoman, researcher and editor on films in the Netherlands, the Middle East and Rwanda. In 2009 she started filming ‘Soldier on the Roof’. It took 3 years, 5 extended visits to Hebron, and extreme determination to make this film, The film was awarded with double IDFA prizes, various international prizes, and broadcasted Internationally.
Since 2013 Esther and her partner, Paul King, are filming ‘Through the Barricades’, every year, sometimes twice a year they live in Hebron for a long period to film the kids growing up. Esther participated at GreenHouse seminar 2015-2016 in which she developed the film further. As a result of the seminar Dutch TV broadcaster EO decided to produce the film together with Doxy producers in Amsterdam. In 2017 we received the NPO fund and pitched at the EBU forum in Sheffield. The film will be broadcasted end 2020.
Additionally she works for Dutch TV as a film researcher, producer and camerawomen, specialized in Israël and the Westbank.
By “standing in the shoes” of her protagonists – Esther sets out to capture the challenges, triumphs and comic life moments of real people in front of her camera.
For all her films Esther does the directing, camera, research, data management and partly the editing.
A film can never be totally objective, knowing that, my aim as a filmmaker is anyway to be as objective as possible.
2013 – in Production | ‘Through the Barricades’ | 55’ | Doxy Film & EO | Director, Research, Camera
The Bittersweet stories of 4 children coming-of-age in Hebron’s old city: Though soldiers or settlers might turn their lives upside down at any moment, the children try to play, realize modest dreams and avoid becoming radicalized on the barricaded streets of their city.
2017 – in Production | Uri Avnery ‘94 years old & Still an Optimist’| 55’ Sarphati Media | Director, Research, Camera
This film depicts Israeli Peace-Activist Uri Avnery sharing views of goings-on around the World today. With his 94 years and personal experience of being a terrorist, a refugee, a politician & a journalist; Uri offers sharp yet humorous wisdom.
2012 | ‘Soldier on the Roof’| 80’ & 52’ | VPRO Tegenlicht & Sarphati Media | Director, Research and Camera This film captured unique scenes of Hebron’s settlers’ daily life. The TV version was nominated for the BANFF Rockie awards. The 80” version received 7 international prizes including IDFA 2012 Award for First Appearance & IDFA Award for Dutch Documentary, and a ‘special mention’ International prize at Doc Aviv.
2008 | ‘Hope Despair Laughter’ | 30’ | Director, Research, Camera, Editing Filmed in the Westbank Deheishe refugee camp, this film shows children’s moments of fun & tension preparing for the final show of their circus summer camp. Selected for several student competitions at international film festivals.
2007 Ossama’s Dance | 27’ | Director, Research, Camera, Editing
The daily life of a gay Palestinian Belly dancer whom had to start a new life in the Netherlands. This film was selected for students competitions at Beeld voor Beeld, Bilan du Film Ethnographique Paris, 12ª Mostra Internacional do Filme Etnográfico, Brazil.
Researcher & Producer
2019 Researcher & Line Producer & 2nd camera in Israel and the Westbank for “Raoul in Israel’ a 8 x 55 minutes TV series with Raoul Heertje directed by Frans Bromet, produced for Witte Geit and NPO2 NTR, planned to broadcast end of 2019
2018 Researcher & Line Producer & 2nd camera in Israel and the Westbank for “Natascha’s Promised Land’ a 4 x 45 minutes TV series with Natascha van Weezel directed by Bart Nijpels, produced for Stormy TV and NPO 3 VPRO
2014 Researcher & Line Producer & 2nd camera & sound in Israel for ‘Schoon Schip’ by Director Frans Bromet for Self Made Films & NCRV NL broadcast
Summery of professional skills:
I am schooled in using ‘Participant observation’ research and filming techniques, (filming and anthropological work from inside a community).
Documentary film director:
As film director of short and feature length documentary films, my work has been recognized via major International awards. I work independently on research, concept development, filming & directing on location, directing the edit and postproduction.
Camera & sound operator:
I am confident and able to work as a ‘one woman crew’ in conflict area and ‘fly on the wall’ style filming.
My technical skills include: narrative editing, postproduction preparation, editing short PR movies and long documentaries. Experienced in operating systems including Final Cut Pro, Premiere pro and PhotoShop.
Researcher and Producer in Israël and the Westbank:
In research I find all the relevant protagonists, locations, develop the storylines and do the content editing. I brief the producers and anchor on content and information. As a producer I make the film planning, arrange permits, give advice on security measures and line produce the shoot (organise; hotels, airline tickets, catering, navigation, translators, van with driver and anything else needed during the shoot).
Dutch (native), Hebrew (fluent, written and spoken), English (fluent, written and spoken), Italian (basic) and Arabic (basic).
I did my drivers licence in Israel in 1997 and have lots of experience driving in Middle Eastern traffic. I know how to navigate in Israel, PA area and through Israeli checkpoints.
Education and qualifications:
2015 – 2016 Participation in GreenHouse film seminars in Morocco. We developed and pitched our independent documentary “Through the Barricades”, director, with co-director Paul King.
2006 – 2007 MA in Visual Anthropology, Manchester University: Studies included topics such as theoretical visual anthropology, research techniques, documentary film-making, camera work, editing and sound recording. I completed my Masters degree with a film titled ‘Hope Despair Laughter’: A circus project in Palestine” based on 2 months of anthropological research in a West Bank refugee camp.
2002 – 2006 BA Cultural Anthropology & Sociology of Non-Western Societies, Amsterdam University: During my studies I focused on subjects related to conflict; nationalism, education, genocide, politics and violence. In addition to the regular program I followed a course in Visual Anthropology at Leiden University, which I completed with a film titled “Ossama’s Dance.”
2001 Nature guide course, Egged Tours, Israel: Guiding course for whole of Israël
1993 – 1996 ‘Art’ high school ‘Wizo Canada’ in Israel: In addition to the regular curriculum, I focused on painting, sculpture and photography classes. I completed high school with honour marks.
If you happen to google Esther Hertog you might find lots of pictures of Esther Flying upside down, that is because she is was well an Acroyoga and Family Acroyoga teacher.