Poem of Death

Poem of Death is a documentary about a group of poets in Amsterdam, who write custom-written poems and recite them a ‘Lonely Funerals’. They accompany the solitary departed to the grave, with a poem written for the occasion. In Amsterdam alone, fifteen people a year pass away whose interment will not be witnessed. Be it nameless people, or people with a name, but without family or friends.

In the documentary Poem of Death we witness the journey of a typical ‘Lonely Funeral’. We observe how government officials organize events, how the funeral home cares for the body and coffin and how the poets prepare for their recital at the graveside. There is often so little information to be found, that it is unclear as to how the deceased ended up in his isolated situation. Perhaps by choice or by circumstance; no one will ever know. The poet is therefore compelled to interpret, to invent. But what does one write for somebody who is no longer known to anyone?

In co-production with NTR. With support from Dutch Cultural Media Fund.

Poem of Death is now available on Vimeo on Demand

Watch on Vimeo on Demand or order the DVD


Astrid Bussink

Astrid Bussink studied fine art at the Academy of fine Arts, AKI, Enschede (BA) in the Netherlands and her Master in film at the Edinburgh College of Art in Scotland. During this Master she shot her award winning documentary ‘The Angelmakers’ (First Appearance Award IDFA, Little Stamp award, ZagrebDOX, Best short Documentary, Dokufest, nomination Grierson Award and more). After this she made the short films Rückenlage / Upside Down ( Best Short Experimental film at Vermont International Film Festival, nominated Silver Cub, IDFA 2006), The 9 lives of my car (a.o. Dutch Filmfestival 2007) and I shot the mayor (Or: Plan B) (a.o. nominated Silver Cub IDFA 2007, official selection Zagrebdox and HOTDOCS).
Bussink now lives and works in Amsterdam where she made her first feature length documentary The Lost Colony (Official Selection Rotterdam International Filmfestival, HOTDOCS a.o.) and has now finished her new personal documentary Mijn Enschede, about the Enschede fireworks disaster that happened in 2000, in which 23 people died, 1000 were injured. ‘My Enschede’ has premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in January 2010.
During her artist in residency program in New York she started her project Constructions of (www.constructionsofhappiness.com) which she showed in galleries in New York and Edinburgh. Back in the Netherlands she is now continuing her COH project and is working on the documentary by the same title.


Director Astrid Bussin
Editor Riekje Ziengs
Cinematographer Stefano Bertacchini, Aage Hollander, Rogier Timmermans, e.a.
Sound Sander den Broeder, Bas Lookman, e.a.
Sounddesign Tom Bijnen
Graphic design Kunny van der Ploeg
In co-production with NTR