Toespraak van staatssecretaris Uslu bij de opening van het filmfestival Movies that Matter 2023

Staatssecretaris Uslu (OCW) sprak bij de opening van het filmfestival Movies that Matter op 24 maart 2023 in Den Haag.

Deze toespraak is alleen in het Engels beschikbaar. Het gesproken woord geldt.

Good evening to you all!

We are celebrating the festival of film. But Movies that Matter is also a celebration of courage and of light.It is a celebration of courage, because the oppressive forces at work in this world are powerful. But the courage of filmmakers is more powerful. Every single movie at this festival is testament to that.


Movies that Matter is also a celebration of light. The movies being screened enable suppressed and forgotten people to emerge from the shadows. They place the abuse of power and human rights violations in the spotlights. And reveal truths that have rarely seen the light of day.

Of all forms of art, film is one of the most immediate, intimate and invasive. It has the power to unite worlds and bring people from afar closer to our hearts. It provides a stark reminder of the similarities between people everywhere in the world.

Filmmakers have the power to convey emotions and insights. Regimes and dictators who aim to suppress self-expression live in fear of this power. Everything that a film can offer – connection, hope, criticism, understanding, a brief moment of escape, passion – represents a threat to them. Exposure to hidden truths reveals their vulnerability.

The documentary “The Killing of a Journalist” is a perfect example. It portrays the Slovakian journalist Ján Kuciak, who was simply doing his job: investigating and revealing things that people would prefer to keep hidden. In 2018, he and his fiancée were murdered. This resulted in major unrest and public protests.

2 weeks ago, I joined the king and the queen in laying flowers at the monument in his honour in Bratislava. A tragic death.

Freedom cannot be taken for granted, also here in the Netherlands. Journalists are being threatened and filmmakers are held back by taboos. They have become a political football in a battle of polarization and intolerance. Even here, free spirits are clashing with radical forces, intent on censorship.

To this year’s main guests from Iran, the Netherlands may feel like a bastion of freedom. Let’s hope that their fight for freedom also reminds us of the need to remain vigilant here in the Netherlands too. To refuse to surrender to the forces of intolerance. To give full exposure to individual freedom and self-expression, and ensure that everyone has the freedom to feel, say and make anything.

This will also enable us to discover the hidden stories in our own Dutch history. It’s something that the opening film, Waves of War (Kleinkinderen van de Oost) makes especially clear. Our history with Indonesia is open to all kinds of new perspectives and interpretations.

It will enable Movies that Matter to remain an open and free platform for stories and their makers, who are denied a platform elsewhere. Movies that Matter is a place where filmmakers are free to tell their stories, meet each other and dazzle us on the red carpet.

The world is on the move and at Movies that Matter, that world is coming together. Let’s shine a light in places where darkness persists.

As Bertolt Brecht wrote:

There are some who are in darkness

And the others are in light

And you see the ones in brightness

Those in darkness drop from sight.

It is my hope that 'Movies that Matter' will keep placing people in the spotlight they deserve.

Happy movie-going! Thank you.