Rob Rombout


a documentary film by Rob Rombout, in co-production with Mollywood (BE), Zeppers Film (NL), with support from The Flanders Audiovisual Fund, le Centre du Cinéma de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, The Netherlands Film Fund, the Belgian Federal Government Tax Shelter

Robert van Gulik (1910-1967) is perhaps one of the world’s most read authors from the Netherlands. This diplomat, Sinologist and scholar is mainly known for his detective novels starring Judge Dee.
The filmmaker Rob Rombout follows in his footsteps to discover the author’s legacy in his diaries, people he inspired and witnesses to his life. His books are in many respects projections of his own life. In one of his rare interviews, van Gulik let slip the remark: “ … Judge Dee, that’s me…” It can be difficult to draw the line between fact and fiction with a character like Robert van Gulik. In the documentary, reality and fantasy, past and present will flow into each other, at times imperceptibly. The film is a quest where the filmmaker takes us on a journey, by way of side roads, in the author’s tracks. At times by plane, by ship or literally on tracks, by train just as the writer himself often travelled. Fragments of his diaries, archive footage, stylized scenes with witnesses and the filmmaker’s own voice blend into a fascinating cinematic journey.


written en directed by Rob Rombout
director of photogrpahy Stef Tijdink, Benjamin Wolf, Stefano Bertacchini
sound engineer Yves Goossens-Bara
montage Adriana Moreira Oliviera

co-producer Frank van den Engel for Zeppers Film, Mollywood


Rob Rombout is an experienced independent documentarymaker. Besides teaching at filmschools in Belgium he lectures at universities and filmschools all over the world, giving documentary workshops and seminars. He’s a member of several film commissions in Belgium and is often chosen as a jury-member. Since 1985 he directed 17 documentaries and he’s developing several new projects. Travelling is the common thread in his documentaries.
Several of his recent and earlier documentaries were awarded.

Amsterdam Stories USA, 2012 240’ a 'roadmovie' from the east to the west coast of the USA

Panamerica, roadmovie 2010 40’ researchfilm on « roadmovie » ( Chili, Bolivia)

The Jagiellonian University, 2004 24’ programm « Kaleidoscope » : portrait of the University of Cracow ( Poland)

QM2, the enterprise, 2004 70’ the biggest passenger liner ever made

Amsterdam via Amsterdam, 2004 80’ cinematographic expedition to two islands co- director : Roger van Eck

Overloon Penitentiary Centre, 2003 24’ programm « Kaleidoscope » : portrait of a dutch prison

Les passagers de l’Alsace, 2002 52’ portraits of 7 inhabitants of the Alsation region in France

Canton, The Chinese, 2001 52’ artists in a changing urban scenery of Canton co- director : Robert Cahen

The trap of Kerguelen, 2000 40’ a scientific expedition towards the islands of Kerguelen

Perm-mission, 1999 52’ a meeting with contempory documentary-makers in Perm (Ural, Russia)

Amsterdam via Amsterdam, 1997 40’ Work-in-progress, 40 min, copy 35 mm co- director : Roger van Eck

Les Açores de Madredeus, 1995 40’ roadmovie with the portuguese music group Madredeus on the Acores

Black Island, 1994 52’ the working conditions on an oil-platform in the North Sea

Transatlantic, QE2 1992 52’ the last transatlantic liner QE2

Nord Express, 1990 52’ the train that connects Paris to Moscow ever since 1896

Entre deux tours, 1987 16’ two towers , two philosophers

Pas de cadeau pour Noël, 1986 22’ portrait of a lonesome Ruandese man in Liège

The man who talked too much, 1985 26’ portrait of a former union leader in strugle with his former boss.