Art with a Heart – Filmmaker Heddy Honigmann

Forever - A film by Heddy Honigmann
Image courtesy by Heddy Honigmann’s website.

Heddy Honigmann makes movies that have heart and soul. There are always questions within her movies that push you to ask questions within yourself. She’s driven by humanity, empowering the viewer and her movie participants through meaningful conversations, and showing us all through powerful revelations how to be the best version of ourselves. Something in her stories, no matter how different our own lives might be, reaches and connects us. I believe that connection comes because of her deep care and love of the topics she covers and the way she expertly and relatably tells the story. For me, what got me addicted to her work was her documentary “Forever”.

“Forever” moved me deeply. After I watched it, something changed within me. Heddy touches the invisible fabric of our heart and mind with compassion and the impact is deeply profound. It’s as if her movies somehow make me a better person through exposure to many interesting topics and internal introspection. I have been thinking about all those stories for years after. With each of her movies, I am expanding my worldwide views of humanity, which she captures so well in her characters and their stories.

“Exhilarating in its praise of the joys of life and art.”

The New York Post (about “Forever”)

Documentaries shine a light on the things we would not normally know about. Heddy and other documentary filmmakers don’t just love what they do with their whole hearts, but they do it with a higher purpose – to open our minds and fill our hearts with compassion, kindness, and empathy. Many stories are given an invigorating passion through the lens of a filmmaker.

Heddy Honingmann

All my films spin around the same few themes: the power of memory and the indestructible will to live; art, literature, poetry and music as routes to a little happiness.

– Heddy Honigmann
Portrait of Heddy Honigmann
Heddy Honigmann.

Filmmaker Heddy Honigmann has quite a unique background. Growing up she was a child of Holocaust survivors that was born and raised in Lima, Peru. During her young adult years, Heddy studied biology and literature at the University of Lima. Later on, she left Peru to travel throughout Mexico, Israel, Spain, and France. Soon after her travels, she began studying film at the Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia in Rome. Since 1978 she has been a Dutch citizen and presently lives in Amsterdam, but has never lost the itch to travel as her filmmaking career has taken her all around the world.

Forever by Heddy Honigmann

Through a leisurely tour of the world-famous Père-Lachaise cemetery in Paris, the final resting place for legendary artists from around the world, Forever provides an unusually poignant, emotionally powerful meditation on life, love, art, and relationships we have we departed ones.

“Mesmerizing… one of [Honigmann’s] most accomplished and expressive works.”

—Deborah Young, Variety
Must see. Such a tender and loving movie. What a wonderful and thoughtful conversation with a visitor of Père-Lachaise.

“A delicate, measured work of unexpected wisdom and hope that preserves the mysteries of love, art, and memory.”

—Nicolas Rapold, New York Sun
I got lost in the movie. And I have watched it many times over.

(It) conveys equally and elegantly the loving devotion of the living to the departed, and the redemptive, revitalizing power of art. One of the very few (documentaries) where we genuinely feel how necessary, how much of a lifeblood (or life preserver), art can be.”

Nicholas Rapold, The New York Sun

Heddy Honigmann Films I Love

Although each film is unique in telling a fascinating story, it is impossible to choose my favorite. I simply love all Heddy’s movies. Twice I visited New York as her guest at the Museum of Modern Art for her USA premiere of “Buddy” and “Around the World in 50 Concerts.” She covers a diverse range of subjects, from a surprising twist of lovers lost in lust to marvelous dog companions that medically assist their owners. But no matter which topic Heddy tackles my heart is always full. Thus, she opens our eyes to poignant worlds that spark curiosity and conversation.

Around the World in 50 Concerts

The fascinating world of music. In 2013, the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra toured the world to celebrate its 125th anniversary: 50 concerts spread over 6 continents. Unbounded passion and love for music bring musicians and concert-goers together. Documentary maker Heddy Honigmann lands with the orchestra in Buenos Aires, Soweto, and St Peterburg and shows how the orchestra succeeds in winning the hearts of people with very different cultural backgrounds. A wonderful review from Variety is here.

The opening scene of the movie shows the concert and percussionists with a set of cymbals. He is waiting to play only one note close to the very end. That note matters. Without that one note, the entire scene would lose its impact. I was taken by many poignant layers of that scene. Waiting to play for just one note, and how it is important in creating harmony in a beautiful piece of music. This simple yet interesting decision sets the tone of the movie and draws you in. In that 30-second opening, you’ll find an interesting analogy to life. All those little moments intertwined have a powerful story to tell.

Dame La Mano

The joy of dance. Many Cuban exiles live in New York City and the nearby Latino neighborhoods in New Jersey. Some of them are the central characters in “Dame la mano”. 

All week long, they look forward to Sunday night, when they can let themselves go on the worn-out dance floor of a dance club called “La Esquina Habanera.” This is the only place in the U.S. where the authentic rumba is celebrated. Cuba connoisseurs describe it as “one of America’s best-kept secrets”. 

For Cubans dancing is one of life’s necessities, like walking, eating, making love and breathing. This inner drive creates a strong zest for life. Dancing means much more than just ‘a night out’ –for the characters in this film it’s their oxygen.

Notable Awards

In 2016, Dutch Queen Maxima awarded the prestigious Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Prijs to Heddy Honigmann. The Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds not only praised Heddy for the exceptional way in which she conducts interviews but also for the loving way in which she depicts the strengths, the joys, and the vulnerabilities of people from all walks of life. Heddy has been recognized internationally and received numerous renowned awards for her films and achievements.

Heddy has been honored by the Dutch Queen Maxima with the prestigious Prins Bernhard award. Sadly, it is only in Dutch but check the 1:30 mark. No language skills are needed for that. And please do watch the videos in order. There is a story in there.

“Heddy is simply one of the contemporary masters of the form… [She has] the consistent and uncanny ability to capture moments of profound emotional honesty.”

Sean Farnel, Director of Programming, Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival

Honigmann’s body of work is honored with retrospectives at multiple events around the globe. To illustrate, she has been featured at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Cinema Arsenal in Berlin, the Madrid Film Museum, the Pacific Film Archive in San Francisco, and the Paris Film Festival, among many other venues.

Where to See Movies by Heddy Honigmann

If you’re interested in her work you can find it on Amazon. The documentary “Buddy” is on iTunes. However, dear reader, do start first with Forever.” It’s a wonderful treat for our hearts. Enjoy!


  • svetislav

    Many of us are born to live only our own lives. There are special ones that will last even longer due to their skill. Mrs. Heddi Honigmann deserved just that

    • zestandcuriosity (author)

      This is such a beautiful and heartfelt comment. It made my day. I highly recommend that you check her movies, they are transformational. so few people have the ability to connect very deeply with the people and audiences through row honesty and empathy. Have an amazing day!

  • Ilmari

    I can see why you love Heddy’s movies, they are simply wonderful

    • zestandcuriosity (author)

      Thank you for your lovely comment. I am longing for her movies, they are like dear friends.

  • Aleen Mcamis

    Saved as a favorite, I really like your website!

    • zestandcuriosity (author)

      Thank you so much. Heddy’s films have heart and soul. I am glad that you enjoy it.

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