Our colonial hangover

Sunny Bergman analyses the debate in the Netherlands around the racist component in the attitude towards Black Peter. The discussion flares up every year as the St Nicholas Feast approaches, but reached an unprecedented emotional high at the end of 2013. Is Black Peter, black face assistant to the generous children’s friend, an insulting stereotype with roots in a colonial past, or is he part of an innocent tradition that should not be tampered with? The Pro and Against lobbies stood face to face last year: the Amsterdam town council organised a public hearing, the judiciary was involved, a UN working group pronounced judgement, and the social media turned into a cesspit of recriminations. The question arises how tolerant Dutch society really is. In a personal quest Bergman charts subconscious prejudices, every-day racism and the heritage of the Dutch colonial past. Dressed up as Black Peter she goes to London where she provokes violent reactions. But she also looks closer to home: she has conversations with personal friends and exposes the phenomenon “white privilege” in her own circles. 

director Sunny Bergman producer Monique Busman, Michiel van Erp

sales Kaisa Kriek NPO sales: kaisa@nposales.nl 

De Familie Film & TV in coproduction with VPRO en support of the CoBo fund.