The Man in Black

Badr, David and Jan-Willem can be found on the pitch every weekend, refereeing amateur football matches. They love the game. That is their main motivation. But the weekly moment of responsibility and authority has given them something else: the realization that respect is a valuable but fragile commodity. Especially in the Netherlands today, where people are predominantly preoccupied with their individual interests and all authority is regarded with suspicion.

Having refereed for almost twenty seasons, timid Jan-Willem is slowly losing his enjoyment of it. He wonders whether there still is a place on the football pitch for referees like him. David, a young pastor, is a relative newcomer to the game. At the Reformed church where he preaches, his authority is beyond question. But a football pitch is not quite the same as a church. Badr, an ex-marine, learned the nature of authority in the army: discipline, self-control, and respect. As a referee, he likes to pass these qualities on to the players on the pitch… but are today’s football players really interested in his good example?




Martijn Blekendaal


Martijn Blekendaal worked as a commisioning editor, director and researcher for VARA, VPRO and NTR. He has also worked as a reporter for different newspapers and magazines.
Martijn Blekendaal won in 2009 the prestigious IDFA-Mediafund Workshop for his film script of “The Man in Black.”

The Man in Black is his debut film and premiered at IDFA 2011.


Regie Martijn Blekendaal
Camera Pim Hawinkels
Geluid Benny Jansen
Montage Axel Skovdal Roelofs
Muziek Wolfert Brederode
Producent Frank van den Engel, Zeppers Film
Eindredactie Barbara Truyen, VPRO