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© Picture Seth Carnill, on set of documentary

'The Underground Astronaut"

Marleine van der Werf (1985, CH/NL) is a filmmaker/visual artist with a documentary practice based in Rotterdam (NL). In her artistic research she explores how to immerse in someone else's experience. Through cinema, virtual reality and multi-sensory technology Van der Werf creates haptic experiences to challenge the understanding of the other and the self. Recurrent themes are embodiment, identity and the perception of reality.

How can we understand someone else’s perspective by interpreting it within our own subjective frame of reference?  This is why I became a filmmaker, to discover what I can learn from people who have a radically different perception of reality than me. To break free from my comfort zone and broaden my frame of reference. For me as a queer woman it can be quite uncomfortable to interview someone who says all queers will go to hell. But unless we enter into a dialogue, nothing will change. We need to think of what connects us, instead of what divides us. It also means challenging one’s own, my own, assumptions when making a film about, say, hooligans of a soccer club, people that are homeless, have a disability, are extremely religious or, as in my new project, people who feel disembodied. What can we learn from each other’s perspective? What if a scientist can experience animal experiments from the perspective of a lab rat? Or a heterosexual man experiencing the harassment of a lesbian woman? An architect experiencing her design from the perception of a bee? Would this experience create an opportunity to reflect about our opinions and perspectives? What if we had artistic methods to break through these boundaries? 


Van der Werf collaborates with experts in the field of science, art and humanities. Her award winning projects have been broadcasted at television and shown at international art- and filmfestivals like IDFA (NL), Human Rights filmfestival Seoul (KR), FILE Festival in Sao Paolo (BR), Future of storytelling New York (USA) and Art Basel (CH). She won the NEXT Talent Award (Playgrounds Digital Art Festival) in 2018, the Scientist Award (Abu Dhabi Imagine Science filmfestival) and the ACT award (STRP) in 2019. In 2022 she was selected for the EMAP residency at Werkleitz, Halle (D) .

Van der Werf completed her Bachelor in Audiovisual Design at the St. Joost Art Academy and her Master Artistic Research in & through Cinema with distinction at the Dutch Film Academy. Currently she develops the multidisciplinary project 'Disembodied' in collaboration with dancers, neuroscientists, designers and engineers exploring what our biological body means to us.

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