A film by
Stella van Voorst van Beest
about the film
What does the Netherlands sound like? Do we still take the time to listen carefully to the sounds around us? Or is the soundscape so satiated that we prefer to seclude ourselves? What does all this sound do to us? Is there a place left in the Netherlands that is really quiet? And what does this sound like, real silence?
With these questions in mind, Stella van Voorst van Beest leads us through the Netherlands and makes us experience extraordinary and everyday sounds, reveals how sound is visible in the Dutch landscape and searches and finds silence in occasionally unexpected places.

This way, we get to know the Dutch soundscape and see how deeply sound literally and figuratively penetrates our daily life.
THE HUM OF HOLLAND ‘shows’ the Netherlands from an aural perspective, presenting a surprising and confronting portrait of a familiar landscape. A journey across a noisy country, examining its ambivalent relationship with silence. 

and then there was silence
The idea for this film arose during a solitary sojourn in a village in Northeast Finland, where Stella did research for her documentary about the Finnish tango (PRISONERS OF THE GROUND, 2009). Taking a stroll across the snow-clad Finnish forest landscape, she heard a sound she could not identify. Was somebody following her? Or did she hear an animal? After a short investigation, it turned out she heard her own body. It was so quiet she could hear her own heartbeat and circulation. A silence she experienced as unparalleled and sensational. In Finland, silence appeared to be an important part of the culture. Being together in silence without feeling awkward, not talking too loudly out of consideration for nature.

How different was the soundscape when she came home to the Netherlands. Both in the street where she lived and in the street where her studio was, renovations were underway. For two years, she lived and worked amid the construction noise, drowned out by the sound of the workers’ ghetto blasters.
In Dutch nature, too, it was not easy to find the same silence as the one she had experienced in Finland. Depending on the wind direction, the noise of the motorway was still audible in many places. It turned out silence was not really part of Dutch culture. It rather seemed that, if there was any silence at all, people wanted to break it as soon as possible.

Instead of staying annoyed at all the racket or cutting herself off, she decided to make it her subject of research, with ears wide open. THE HUM OF HOLLAND is the result. A documentary about the Dutch soundscape, but also an invitation to listen and subsequently observe our environment in new ways.