Get to know Close Up mentor Gitte Hansen, who joined Close Up last year. Gitte is a consultant, tutor, and EP in the international documentary industry. Read more about Gitte below!
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself – all the basics! Where you’re from, where you grew up, interests, hobbies, siblings, causes you’re passionate about, anything else that comes to mind…
A: Storytelling has been a natural and fun part of my life since I was a child. I grew up on a rocky island in the Baltic Sea – Bornholm in Denmark. My father was a sailor and a fantastic and entertaining storyteller. Basically, every piece of information was turned into a story by him (and retold with variations). My mother spent most of her time weaving beautiful fabrics at her big loom, taking care of people as caregiver, and raising my older brother, me – and later also a dear foster daughter. As a child, I wrote and recorded my own radio-dramas and reportages on my Philips cassette recorder, wrote “books” (mostly crime novels) and made “newspapers” retelling stories from real life. As teenager I was flirting with theater, journalism, music, poetry, and dance with my very talented and ambitious high school friends. I too, was eager to do something different and creative with storytelling and art, not really knowing how. When leaving the island to live in Copenhagen with 18, I could not get my arms down.
Q: How did you become interested in film?
A: Studying film was a way for me to explore storytelling as an artform and in addition I did rhetoric studies in university. In the late 80’s during the beginning of my film studies in Copenhagen, I discovered beautiful, meaningful, innovative, creative, and different kinds of storytelling – documentary filmmaking – and my horizon and passion for film got a new dimension. The combination of a making a lot of radio-montage, live radio and radio drama while studying documentaries was a great creative match for me, and I soon got to work with documentaries from the Nordic countries and Europe beside my film studies and never stopped again. Since then, documentary films have been main passion.
Q: The filmmaking industry is a laborious one, so what keeps you motivated?
A: After more than 25 years working with documentaries from all over the world, every single day I learn from filmmakers and their documentaries in a way that I do not find in other artforms when it comes to impact, reflection and relevance for our society and our world. The meaningfulness gets me up in the morning. Working with documentaries means not only working with smart, talented, and dedicated human beings, it also means to participate in a wonderful community in making the world a better place by telling stories.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice someone has ever given you?
A: So far, I got a lot of good advice during my life! As a mother to two youngsters with their lives in front of them, I try to remind myself about ways my parents raised me and my brother: they had a natural trust in us children to learn by doing, so they let us do many even quite crazy things on our own and without controlling us. It brought me a feeling of basic freedom. I have taken with me from them that learning from experience of others is precious, and to follow and testing your own ideas and ways is crucial for your life. I observe this also goes for innovative filmmaking.
Q: What has been something that you have learned about yourself during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: Time alone is good. Being with people is life.