Koen Suidgeest (Amsterdam, 1967) is a documentary director, writer and photographer. A 1995 honours graduate of the Film Department of the University of the Creative Arts in England, for the larger part of his career Koen has dedicated his time to directing documentary film combined with photography work.
Koen’s projects mostly deal with human rights issues with a recurring focus on the rights of women and children in the developing world. He observes without judging and is known for his ability to get close to his characters. With his documentary Casting (2006) he became the first Dutch filmmaker to be nominated for a Spanish Academy Award (Goya). His multiple award-winning Karla’s Arrival (2011) was selected for more than 40 film festivals, broadcast in 14 countries, and won him widespread international recognition. In 2016, he delivered three films: Out & About, a collection of portraits of parents of gay children in Indonesia, Russia and Kenya, Solo, a personal film about grief, and Girl Connected, an inspiring documentary about five teenage girls in five developing countries who are each fighting gender discrimination in their community.
Koen is the author of two photo exhibitions. In 2015 he launched Costuras a flor de piel, a touching series of black & white portraits about resilience of breast cancer patients that has been shown 19 times in five countries. In 2018 he collaborated with renowned Cuban photographer Leysis Quesada Vera to produce Retos, which opened in Havana in October of that same year.
Additional to his work as a filmmaker and photographer, Koen teaches documentary at a variety of universities, is a sought-after tutor for international writing and pitching workshops, and has served on the jury of several film festivals. As a public speaker, Koen recently gave his first TED talk.
After 25 years abroad, Koen moved back to the Netherlands in 2013. He is father to Paula and Ana. In his free time, he enjoys rowing, running, drumming and cooking. He speaks Dutch, English, Spanish, poor French and some German.