Universiteit Leiden

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Koen Suidgeest


K.J. Suidgeest
+31 71 527 2727

Koen Suidgeest is a documentary director, writer and photographer and teacher at the Leiden Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology for the MSc Visual Ethnography. Suidgeest's projects mostly deal with human rights issues with a recurring focus on maternity and reproductive rights, as well as gender identity.

More information about Koen Suidgeest

Koen Suidgeest teaches at Leiden University (MSc Visual Ethnography) and Breda University (BA International Media and Entertainment Management). He is a sought-after tutor for international writing and pitching workshops, and has served on the jury of several film festivals. As a public speaker, Koen Suidgeest recently gave his first TED talk.

Suidgeest is also a documentary director, writer and photographer. As a 1995 honours graduate of the Film Department of the University of the Creative Arts in England, for the larger part of his career Koen has dedicated his time to directing documentary film combined with photography work.

Suidgeests' projects mostly deal with human rights issues with a recurring focus on maternity and reproductive rights, as well as gender identity. He observes without judging and is known for his ability to get close to his characters.

With his documentary Casting (2006) he became the first Dutch filmmaker to be nominated for a Spanish Academy Award (Goya). His multiple award-winning Karla’s Arrival (2011) was selected for more than 40 film festivals, broadcast in 14 countries, and won him widespread international recognition. His most recent m/f/x (2019), a collection of portraits of transgenders in Vietnam, Honduras and the Netherlands, is currently taken around the world by the Human Rights in the Picture Foundation as a tool for activism and education.

Suidgeest is the author of two photo exhibitions and a book. In 2015 he launched Costuras a flor de piel, a touching series of black & white portraits revolving around resilience of breast cancer patients, which has been shown 19 times in five countries. In 2018 he collaborated with renowned Cuban photographer Leysis Quesada Vera to produce Retos, which opened in Havana in October of that same year. His photo book, Why I Cry On Airplanes, came out in early 2020 and has since sold over 6.000 copies.

Who is Saving Whom? TEDxBerkleeValencia by Koen Suidgeest

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Koen Suidgeest' personal website can be found here.


  • Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen
  • Culturele Antropologie/ Ontw. Sociologie

Work address

Pieter de la Court
Wassenaarseweg 52
2333 AK Leiden


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