Tu ne verras pas Verapaz

English, French, Spanish, Flemish
English, French, Spanish, Flemish
An van. Dienderen & Didier Volckaert
Produced by
Elektrischer Schnellseher
Funded by
KunstenFestivaldesArts, Koning Boudewijnstichting, City of Ghent, province East-Flanders, vzw de hondsjaren and Flemish Film Fund
Idea by
vzw de hondsjaren
Veerle Devos, Tobias De Pessemier, An van. Dienderen
Line Productie
Tobias De Pessemier
Local fixer
Elke Borghs
2nth Camera & sound
Maximiliano Godino
Didier Volckaert
Eric Pauwels, Willy Thomas, Laurent Van Lancker, Gilles Marquenie, Luis Armando Tobias Sanchez
Kirsten Lemaire
Editing doctors
Rudi Maerten, Eric Vanderborght
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There is an old song from Ghent, ‘Wie goat er mee noar Verapas?’ (Who goes along to Verapaz?), that was popular at the beginning of the last century. It refers to an unfamiliar piece of Belgium’s history: the former Belgian colony in Guatemala, Santo Tomas de Castilla. When Leopold I bought a piece of Guatemala in 1843, his goal was not to exploit valuable resources as was done in Congo, but to reduce crime level in Belgium. To achieve this, he inspired rich stock holders to start up the ‘Company of Colonisation’. Propaganda was vital: the Company handed out exotic engravings, fake letters supposedly written by Belgian migrants praising Santo Tomas as a land of plenty and representing Guatemala as a promised land. In this way they managed to deport the unemployed, losers and adventurers – rejects of nineteenth century society.

An van Dienderen and Didier Volckaert use this song as their starting point and look for the great-great-grandchildren of Belgian descendants in Guatemala. They bump into Belgian lions, originally shipped into Santo Tomas in 1843, Belgian descendants, some who do not quite know where Belgium is, others who claim to have brought Guatemala many economic advantages. The filmmakers participate and share this popular song with these Belgians. As a sort of poetic road movie, leading the audience from ‘de Muide’, Ghent to Santo Tomas, Guatemala, the film aims to offer a personal exploration of the urge for the green grass over the hill, the ‘eldorado’. It hints at abstract concepts such as cultural identity, nationalism, memory, paradise lost, Diaspora narratives, and nostalgia.

Watch the film here.


– 'Tu ne verras pas Verapaz' is permanently part of the collection of Flemish museums, at Mu.Zee Ostend
– Price Best Belgian documentary by the Flemish and Walloon Community (BE)


– Atlas, Antwerp during the art project Vlamingrant (BE)
– Brussels, Maison de L ‘Amérique Latine (BE)
– London Conference: Dilemma and Decision: Ethnographic Filmmaking in the Making. International Centre for Contemporary Cultural Research, Royal Anthropological Institute, Host: Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (UK)
– 28/06 – 30/08/09: Ronse (BE) during the art project Vlamingrant
– SOAS, School of Oriental and African Studies, University London (UK)
– Guatemala city: Festival de Cine Europeo (GT)
– London: Royal Anglo-Belgian Club (UK)
– KunstenFESTIVALdesArts, Brussels (BE)
– Argosfestival, Brussels (BE)
– Margaret Mead Film and Video festival New York (US)
– Pacific Film Archive Berkeley (US)
– Viewpoint Documentair Filmfestival Gent (BE)
– Timefestival Gent (BE)
– Brussels Festival of the free image; Utrecht, Nederlands film festival, Benelux screening,.. (BE)