Rob Rombout

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Rob Rombout
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Rob Rombout in 2011
Born (1953-07-08) 8 July 1953 (age 71)
OccupationFilm director and Teacher
Known forQueen Mary 2
Amsterdam Via Amsterdam
Le Piège de Kerguelen
Children1 (a son)

Rob Rombout (born 8 July 1953 in Amsterdam) is a Dutch filmmaker, a documentarian, and a teacher.


Rob Rombout was born in Amsterdam in 1953. He is a filmmaker and professor of documentary cinema. Since 1988, he has been teaching directing at LUCA School of Arts in Brussels.[1] He is also a regular professor or a jury at INSAS (Brussels), the Royal Institute for Theatre, Cinema & Sound (RITCS) (Brussels), Universidade Lusófona (Lisbon), and a speaker at Paris 8 University Vincennes-Saint-Denis (Paris) and Marc Bloch University (Strasbourg).[2][3][4] He is co-founder of Doc-Nomads, a program for international master's degree in documentary production.[5] Rombout has also led workshops in different countries including Brazil,[6] Vietnam,[7] China,[8][9] Canada, United States,[10] and Lebanon.[11]

Since L’homme qui en disait trop (The Man Who Said Too Much) in 1985, he has directed about fifteen documentaries, several of which have won international awards. His main works include Entre Deux Tours (1987),[12] Perm-Mission (1999),[13] Le Piège de Kerguelen (2000),[14] Amsterdam via Amsterdam (co-directed with Rogier van Eck).[15] Others are Queen Mary 2, Birth of a Legend (2004),[16] Amsterdam Stories USA (2012), [17] and a 2015 film on the Dutch writer Robert van Gulik, On the Track of Robert van Gulik (87 min).[18]

Rombout was a member of the Brouillon d'un rêve Commission (SCAM Paris), the Brussels Audiovisual Center Commission, the VAF (Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds). In two separate tenures, 1998 to 2005 and 2009 to 2013, he was the vice president of the Belgian Committee of the French Author Organization SCAM.[19]


  • 1985 : L’Homme qui en disait trop (the story of a shop steward in a struggle against his former employer).
  • 1986 : Pas de cadeau pour Noël (the uprooting and disillusionment of a Rwandan in Liège)
  • 1987 : Entre deux tours (two buildings represent two extremely different philosophies).[20]
  • 1990 : Nord-Express (the train that connects Paris to Moscow since 1896)
  • 1992 : Queen Elizabeth 2, Transatlantique (the last transatlantic cruise liner Queen Elizabeth 2)
  • 1994 : Île Noire (portrait of an oil rig in the North Sea)
  • 1995 : Les Açores de Madredeus (road movie in the Azores with the Portuguese music group Madredeus)
  • 1997 : Amsterdam via Amsterdam
  • 1999 : Perm-Mission (meeting with Russian filmmakers in Perm)
  • 2000 : Le Piège de Kerguelen (a scientific expedition to the Kerguelen Islands)
  • 2001 : Canton, la Chinoise (portrait of the city of Canton, China co-production: Robert Cohen)
  • 2002 : Les Passagers de l’Alsace (portrait of eight characters in Alsace)
  • 2003 : Overloon Penitentiary Centre (Kaleidoscope series, portrait of a prison in Holland)
  • 2004 : Amsterdam via Amsterdam (Cinema Expedition co-director: Rogier van Eck)
  • 2004 : Queen Mary 2, la Reine de la Mer (documentary on the construction and "maiden voyage" of the Queen Mary 2)
  • 2004 : The Jagiellonian University (Kaleidoscope series, portrait of the University of Krakow, Poland)
  • 2010 : Panamerican, road movie
  • 2012 : Amsterdam Stories USA (road movie from east to west of the United States, passing through the fifteen places named Amsterdam)
  • 2016 : On the track of Robert Van Gulik (portrait of the writer)
  • 2024: Amsterdam Side-by-side, co-directed by Rogier van Eck (90 min)

Awards and Honours

Year Ceremony Award Movie
1987 Video PSY Premier prix Pas de cadeau pour Noël
1988 Festival Video Premier prix

Entre deux tours

1988 Festival Video & S-8 Best Video

Entre deux tours

1988 Grand prix du Festival de Montbéliard Premier prix

Entre deux tours

2000 Flahertiana Russia Award


2000 Festival "Man and sea" Special Award

Le Piège de Kerguelen

2001 Festival international du cinéma francophone en Acadie Meilleur documentaire

Canton, la Chinoise

2005 Route 66 Film Festivals Best Foreign Film

Amsterdam Via Amsterdam

2006 Silver Remi Award 39th Worldfest Special Award

Amsterdam Via Amsterdam

2013 Lisboa Cinema Festival Prix du Public

Amsterdam Stories USA

2013 22ième Festival of Ethnologique Grand Prix

Amsterdam Stories USA

2015 MIFEC, Porto Prémio Aurelio Paz dos Reis

cinema personality


Entre Deux Tours (1987)

Entre Deux Tours (1987) is a unique allegorical film in Rob Rombout's filmography. It stands out from his previous reports for Canal Emploi and subsequent documentaries. With the adoption of the aesthetics and special effects of video art, the film departs from traditional documentary filmmaking by avoiding direct cinema and television reporting. He collaborated with other industry players like Jean-Pierre Bouyxou (editor), Stéphane Collignon (cameraman), and François Weyergans (composer).

The film focuses on two towers: one in Belgium, near the village of Eben, built by a stonemason, Robert Garcet, and inspired by the Tower of Babel. The second tower, located in Brunssum, the Netherlands, houses a NATO military base. It stages the two towers and their creators by creating an intermediate space that mixes plastic and poetic art. Natural landscapes, symbolic images, and video effects create a mystical and esoteric narrative. Entre Deux Tours is a turning point in Rob Rombout's career, as he moves away from social reporting to explore video art. He retains certain decisive choices in his future films: building his object, staging reality, filming the natural beauty of things, and creating plastic forms that carry meaning.

L'ile Noire (1994)

The film delves deeply into the daily life and experiences of workers on an artificial oil platform, an inhospitable, unaesthetic, and strictly utilitarian place. Faced with a difficult and dangerous environment, the director chose to use three distinct perspectives to depict the reality of the workers on the platform: that of the architect, offering an overview of the place; that of the sociologist, allowing a more human and close approach to individuals; and that of the observer, who places himself directly on the drilling site and becomes an active participant in the process.

The film was shot on film with fixed lenses, despite the challenges posed by the ubiquitous mud and the risk of explosion due to the gas present on the platform. Some sequences were shot in black and white to emphasize the gestures and physical work of the workers, rather than the bright colors of their clothing. The director drew inspiration from a Cinema of Russia of the 1920s to create an experimental and fragmented montage that retains a raw and authentic aspect.

The film's soundtrack reflects the disharmony and contrasts present on the platform, alternating between very noisy scenes and quieter ones. The director enlisted Jean-Louis Daulne to compose two different styles of music: a mechanical and rhythmic music inspired by Sergei Prokofiev, to illustrate the industrial and technical aspect of the platform; and a more emotional and melodic country-style music to represent the workers and their feelings. The latter underscores their need to escape from their confined and deprived of any privacy environment.

Finally, the film also addresses the situation of underemployed individuals on a nearby rescue ship, who are forced to remain in proximity to the platform at all times. These individuals, mostly underpaid Scots, aspire to work on the platform but do not possess the necessary qualifications. Their living conditions contrast with those of the platform workers, who despise them while envying their forced inactivity. This film offers a unique and striking glimpse into an unknown and inhospitable world.

The Trap of Kerguelen (2000)

Sent by King Louis XV to explore a hypothetical southern continent, Yves de Kerguelen discovered the Desolation Islands, now named after him, in 1772. Director Rob Rombout, inspired by Jean-Paul Kauffmann's book, L'Arche des Kerguelen, decided to create a film about these islands. The film follows a team of evolutionary biology researchers studying the behavior of wild cats, descendants of cats abandoned by the Kerguelen crew. Rombout draws a parallel between the Kerguelen expedition and that of the researchers, emphasizing the failures and analogies between the two. The film explores the futility of human enterprises and questions the necessity of conducting research in such difficult conditions. By challenging the conventions of traditional documentary filmmaking, Le Piège de Kerguelen offers a reflection on cinema and its expressive possibilities.


  1. CILET (2017). "Key Guest Lecturers: Universidade Lusófona / Film and Media Arts Department (ULHT)". Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  2. Universidade Lusófona (2022). "Lessons: Rob Rombout". Universidade Lusófona. Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  3. Chartable (2022). "Rob Rombout Seminar Podcast - Listen, Reviews, Charts". Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  4. Kalamata Short Docs Film Festival (2022). ""Creating a Documentary Film" with Robert Rombout, the Greek Society of Cinematographers and the Video Art Laboratory of the Athens School of Fine Arts". Peloponnisos International Documentary Film Festival. Retrieved 2023-03-26.
  5. Tiburon International Film Festival (2016). "Rogier van Eck & Rob Rombout". Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  6. Associação Cultural Videobrasil (1994). "10th Videobrasil International Electronic Art Festival". Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  7. Viet Nam News (2016). "Veteran Filmmaker to Screen Works in Hà Nội". Viet Nam News. Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  8. China Daily (2013). "City guide(April 21-May 31)". Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  9. China Rhyming (2018). "Film Screening: On the Track of Robert Van Gulik by Rob Rombout – SOAS, August 24". Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  10. Film Booster, Amsterdam Stories USA (2012), retrieved 2023-03-27
  11. American University of Technology Lebanon (2023). "Dutch Documentary Maker Rob Rombout Ends His Workshop at AUT". Retrieved 2023-03-28.
  12. Wallonie Image Production. "Entre Deux Tours". Wallonie Image Production (in français). Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  13. IMDb (2023), Perm Mission (TV Movie 1999) - IMDb, retrieved 2023-03-27
  14. Film-Documentaire.Fr. "Le Piège de Kerguelen". Film-Documentaire.Fr (in français). Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  15. The Landmark Baku. "The Landmark Baku Robert Rombout - "Amsterdam Via Amsterdam" - Film Screening & Debate". The Landmark Baku. Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  16. Flanders. "Queen Mary 2, Birth of a Legend" (PDF). Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  17. Mubi, "Amsterdam Stories USA",, retrieved 2023-03-27
  18. Off World (2016). "On the Track of Robert van Gulik". Retrieved 2023-03-27.
  19. Centre de l'Audiovisuel à Bruxelles (2023). "Rob Rombout". Centre de l'Audiovisuel à Bruxelles (in français). Retrieved 2023-03-28.
  20. Wallonie Image Production. "ENTRE DEUX TOURS". (in français). Retrieved 2023-03-27.

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