American film maker makes Zwarte Piet documentary for CNN

American film maker makes Zwarte Piet documentary for CNN

27th November 2015, Comments 1 comment

A week before the Sinterklaas festivities on December 5, global news channel CNN is digging into the Zwarte Piet controversy with a short documentary.

Blackface was made by Oscar-winning documentary maker Roger Ross Williams who said his friends in America had been shocked the first time they saw a photograph of Sinterklaas’ helper.

‘I think many people will see it and find it scandalous,’ Ross Williams is quoted as saying by the NRC. ‘Other countries will pressure the Netherlands to end the practice.’

The film was shown for the first time at Amsterdam University on Wednesday evening, an event attended by students, anti-Piet activists, American nationals and people of Surinamese origin, the paper says.

The film, which runs for 15 minutes, is not meant to be a journalistic report. ‘This is a report of my personal experiences with Zwarte Piet,’ Williams said. ‘How can I be objective about it?

The NRC says the film is ‘remarkably’ funny even though Williams has already learned that the Dutch do not consider the subject amusing.

‘When I said Zwarte Piet was Holland’s dirty little secret in the Telegraaf, I got a lot of hate mail,’ he said. ‘I thought, if Zwarte Piet is not racist, why are you saying racist things to me?’

Williams will be taking part in the RTL Late Night with Humberto Tan on Monday evening. The documentary will go live on CNN on Sunday.



1 Comment To This Article

  • phulshof posted:

    on 27th November 2015, 15:53:08 - Reply

    It's sad that CNN chose to show this biased documentary over a more objective one. Dutch children adore Zwarte Piet, dress up like him, and want to be like him. Where have you ever seen anyone envy the victim of racism? Don't judge a tradition just because one of its participants resembles a racist image once held in your own country. I hear no-one calling for a change in the clothing of Spanish priests just because they resemble the KKK robes either.