Film information 3

Film screenings 4

Synopsis 5

Credits 6

About the director & directors statement 7

Resume director Ton van Zantvoort 8

Publications 9

Film stills 10

Directors stills 12



Film details
Original title: a BLOOMING BUSINESS
Original language: English/ Swahili
Subtitled language: 22 European Union languages
Running time: 52 minutes
Date of completion: March 2009
Date/ place of first screening: March 13, 2009/ Thessaloniki, Greece
Country of Filming: Kenya, The Netherlands
Country of Origin: The Netherlands

Production company: NEWTON film
Producer/ director: Ton van Zantvoort
Country: The Netherlands
Date of Birth: 23-06-1979
Cellular +31 6 410 390 81
Fax +31 8 474 462 00
Filmography: GRITO de PIEDRA/ 59 min/ 2006
First/ second film: yes
Co-production: VPRO/ Barbara Truyen
World distribution: NEWTON film
Sales contact: US/ Canada: 7th Art Releasing
Sales contact: World: Journeyman Pictures

Technical information
Preview copy: 52 minutes, DVD PAL/ NTSC, online screening possible
Exhibition format:
1. Digibeta PAL, 16:9 (anamorphic), 1.66, English sub, color, 52 min, Dolby Digital stereo
2. HD cam NTSC, English subtitles, English Subtitles
3. DV cam French subtitles
4. DVD with 22 European Union Languages
Categories: Human interest /-rights, social/ environment issues, globalization


- Jury Award, FIFDH, Festival International du film des droits de l'homme de Paris, 2011
- Audience award, The Art of the Document, 2010 - Special jury mention 2010
- Golden olive award for best documentary, International Festival, Montenegro 2010
- Audience Award, Millenium International Documentary Festival, Belgium 2010
- Award for best film chosen by media professionals, Festival Internacional de Cinema Ambiental FICA, Brasil 2010
- Best photography Award, XV International TV Festival Bar, Montenegro,2010
- Jury Award best treatment, Cinema Planeta, Mexico 2010
- Audience favourites Mixed Greens, Planet in Focus, Canada 2009
- Open Eyes Award special mention, Medfilm Festival, Italy 2009,
- Dok Leipzig Healthy Workplaces Film Award, International Leipzig Festival, Germany 2009


Selection of International Film Festivals
TDF competition, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival,Greece, 13 March 2009
IFFB competition, International Film Festival Breda, The Netherlands, 27 March 2009
Plaza Futura, The Netherlands, May 2009
Film Café Grave, The Netherlands, May 2009
Verkade Fabriek, The Netherlands, May 2009
Green Film Festival in Seoul, Korea, May 2009
Electron, The Netherlands, May 2009
Cinema City 09, Serbia, June 2009
TAC, The Netherlands, June 2009
Filmfoyer, The Netherlands, June 2009
Rodos International Films+ Visual Arts Festival, Greece, June 2009
NZIFF competition, New Zealand International Film Festival, New Zealand, July 2009
Groene Engel, The Netherlands, July 2009
VIFF competition, Vancouver International Film Festival
National Cinemateque, Denmark, September 2009
NFF, Dutch Film Festival, The Netherlands, September 2009
MEDI MED Docs come true, Spain, October 2009
Planet in Focus, Environmental Film Festival, Canada 2009
DOK Leipzig, Germany, October 2009
AFF competition, 10th Astra Film Festival, Romania, 2009
ânûû-rû âboro, Peoples’ film festival, New Caledonia, November 2009
Med Film Festival competition, Italy, November 2009
International Documentary Festival Agadir competition, Morocco, December 2009
DOCPoint Helsinki Documentary Festival competition, Finland, January 2010
Human Rights Human Wrongs, Norway, february 2010
Cinema Planeta Mexico, Mexico, March 2010
Montreal Human Rights Film Festival, Canada, March 2010
Cronograf Documentary Film Festival, Moldova, May 2010
Planete Doc Review - Against Gravity 2 competitions, Poland, May, 2010
FICA - Festival International de cinema e video ambiental - Brasil, June 2010
Centraal Museum Utrecht - In your face, june - September 2010
Bolivia el septimojo es tuyo, Bolivia, June 2010
Documentarist Film Festival, Istanbul, Turkey, June 2010
Millenium Film Festival - Belgium, June 2010
Criterio Ambiental, Costa Rica, September 2010
Split New film festival Poland, September 2010
Centraal Museum - Recht voor zijn Raap / In your face, June - September 2010
Jihlava IDFF, Czech Republic, October 2010
Duke City DocFest, Albuquerque New Mexico, October 2010
International TV Festival Bar, 15th festival, Montenegro, October 2010
Etnia FIlm Festival, Finland, October 2010
Ad Hoc Inconvenient Films, LHCR, Lihuania, October 2010
This Human World, Austria, October 2010
Art of the Document, Multumedia Festival, Poland, November 2010

More screenings coming soon...


Synopsis 100 words

a BLOOMING BUSINESS is a poetic documentary by TON van ZANTVOORT about people in Kenya who are imprisoned by the global flower industry. The dilemmas of the industry become painfully clear and a dark world of oppression, sexual abuse and terrible working conditions unfolds. There is only one conclusion possible: the smell of the imported rose is not sweet, but bitter.

The film combines pure observation with direct comments of the main characters. The camera is absent and present at the same time. With great humanity van Zantvoort shows us a different world in which all human life is valuable.


Film description 519 words

a BLOOMING BUSINESS is a poetic documentary by Ton van Zantvoort about people in Kenya who are imprisoned by the global flower growing industry. Flowers love people, is a well known Dutch saying, that the flower industry tries to propagate. But whether flowers actually do love people remains the question. A large percentage of flower production in third world countries, where the pay checks are low and the environment constraints are flexible, is auctioned in The Netherlands.

In an assertive way, a BLOOMING BUSINESS shows the world of Jane, Kennedy and Oscar. Jane is a single mother who works at one of the many flower farms in Naivasha, Kenya. She works day and night for her survival and to be able to feed her children. Jane finds herself constantly exhausted and compares her life to that of a prisoner. Her supervisor forces her to have sex with him. If Jane would reject him, she would be fired and banned from working at other flower farms. She has no choice. If that would happen, who would look after her children? Jane’s family lives far away. She has been all by herself since she immigrated to Naivasha. There were rumors that one can make a considerable amount of money working in the flower industry. However, once you arrive in Naivasha, the reality turns out to be far from positive. Jane is imprisoned in her situation; she does not even have the money to go and visit her family. To her, the rose means hard work, thorns in her hands and exposure to a lot of dangerous chemicals. However, despite her hard and difficult life, beating her down, Jane remains fighting for her children’s dreams and future.

The flower is a huge source of income. But for whom? The flower industry in Naivasha – and anywhere else in the world – demands its price both socially and ecologically. Each rose bush needs 1,5 liter of water per day. Fisherman Kennedy suffers from this and watches his catch diminish daily: “the surface of Naivasha’s lake decreases a lot each year because of this water consumption and the water is polluted by the use of chemicals and pesticides of the surrounding companies.” Another victim is Oscar. He was also fired by a flower company and ever since, in order to make a little money has been transporting the polluted water from the lake in jerry cans to the community by mule. He knows the water is polluted, but Oscar, just like the community who drinks the water, has no other choice.

Do flowers also love these people? Everything is being done in order to keep up appearances of the flower industry, as, together with tourism, flower export is Kenya’s largest source of income. The dilemmas of the industry grow painfully clear. There is only one conclusion possible: the smell of the imported rose is not sweet, but bitter. Pure observation goes unnoticed, hand in hand, with straightforward comments from the main characters throughout this film. The camera is present and absent at the same time. With great humanity van Zantvoort shows us another world in which the life of each human being is valuable.


52 minutes, 2009
a NEWTON film in co-production with VPRO

produced & directed by

scenario, cinematography, sound & editing by

first assistant & sound by

music composed by

commissioning editor

world distribution
NEWTON film/ 7th Art/ Journeyman

JANE and children

water supplier


former employee - filmmaker

former employee

former employee

Workers Rights Watch

support & advise

Thanks to

financial support
Province Noord-Brabant
City Breda
Foundation BKVB

All rights reserved Copyrights 2009
NEWTON film/ Ton van Zantvoort


About the director 52 words
Ton van Zantvoort observes with great attention and takes us into a world of people on the edge, people who try to survive but are confronted by external powers as tourism, international commerce and mass communication. With great humanity, van Zantvoort shows us a different world in which all human life is valuable.

About the director alternative 136 words
Ton van Zantvoort is an independent filmmaker and takes the initiative to produce a film in accordance with his own interest. His way of producing seems to be connected with direct cinema; direct observations with minimum external interference and control over virtually the entire process of making a film. However, in Ton’s films, you will notice that the preference lies in styling and emphasizing the layout of image and sound. This makes the work original and bears witness, content wise, to the enormous willpower of the maker. Throughout his films, Ton consciously lays down his statement, through which he creates his own vision of reality. The vision of a western civilized person who makes us do some soul searching. Some confronting soul searching, yet making it a process you want to endure as long as possible.


About the director & the film 107 words
The films by Ton van Zantvoort are typified by the language of intimate images, a poetic structure and enormous involvement and commitment. a Blooming Business, the second long documentary produced by this young film maker, is next to the obvious almost self explanatory humanity, especially exemplified by its extraordinary tale structure. Pure observation goes unnoticed, hand in hand, with straightforward comments about life and living from the main characters throughout this film. The camera is present and absent at the same time. The vision of a western civilized person who reflects us a mirror. A confronting mirror, but also one you would like to long-lasting look in.

Directors statement 70 words
I am not a journalist. I am a filmmaker. My films are about true people, and their believes, struggles and dreams in life. Filmmaking for me, is like writing a poem, only with images and sound. For me this film is a poetic story about the complexity of our human existence and the globalizing world we are living in.



1999- 2003 Art Academy St. Joost, Audiovisual design. diploma obtained with credit
1996- 1999 Grafisch Lyceum Eindhoven, Art-direction. diploma obtained
1991- 1996 HAVO, Maaslandcollege Oss. diploma obtained

a BLOOMING BUSINESS/ 53 min/ poetic documentary / 2009
GRITO de PIEDRA/ 59 min/ documentary/ 2006
Khamu village/ 25 min/ documentary/ 2003 (student work)

Doc Review/ Poland/ 2010
Montreal HRFF/ Canada/ 2010
Human Rights Human Wrongs/ Norway/ 2010
DOCPoint Helsinki Documentary Festival/ Finland/ 2010
DOK Leipzig/ Germany/ 2009
GFFIS / Green Film Festival in Seoul /Korea / 2009
Netherlands Film Festival/ the Netherlands/ 2009
IFFB, International Film Festival Breda/ Breda/ The Netherlands/ 2009
TDF, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival/ Thessaloniki/ Greece/ 2009
Margaret Mead Film Festival/ New York, Chicago, Florida, Vermont, Indiana/ ‘08-’09
Astra film Sibiu/ Romania/ 2007
Netherlands Film Festival/ the Netherlands/ 2007
Festival de Cine y video de los derechos humanos/ Bolivia/ 2007
DOCSDF- Festival International de Cine Documental/ Mexico/ 2007
Rodos ecofilms International Films & Visual arts Festival/ Greece/ 2007
IDFA/ Amsterdam / 2006
Iowa city International documentary festival/ IOWA / 2006

Awards & Nominations
- Audience Award, Millenium International Documentary Festival, Belgium 2010
- Press Award, Festival Internacional de Cinema Ambiental FICA, Brasil 2010
- Jury Award best treatment, Cinema Planeta, Mexico 2010
- Audience favourites Mixed Greens, Planet in Focus, Canada 2009
- Open Eyes Award special mention, Medfilm Festival, Italy 2009,
- Dok Leipzig HW Film Award, International Leipzig Festival, Germany 2009
- Startstipend award BKVB 2007
- Highlights of the Lowlands/ IDFA 2006/ GRITO de PIEDRA
- Honourable Mention/ Media city 13 Visual art Festival 2007/ Pack
- 2nd award NFTVM award 2006/ for best new Dutch filmmaker
- 4th price 1 minute & sound award 2006/ dogs
- Scenario Nomination (Scenario workshop during IDFA)
- Nomination for St. Joost Penning/ 2003
- Scenario Nomination NPS Uur van de Wolf
- Startstipend award BKVB 2005

- Doc Review/ Warsaw, Poland/ Panel debate member with Frederik Gertten / 2010
- Margaret Mead Festival / Workshop and Lecture on the University of Manitoba 2009
- Masterclass with Cherry Duyns & Ton van Zantvoort / Nijmegen17-20 januari 2008
- Teaching Photography&Audiovisual design/ Art Academie 's- Hertogenbosch
- Lecturer in Poetic Documentary/ Academie St. Joost/ Mgr Frencken College
- Publications Filmkrant, IDFA daily, Brabants Dagblad, BN de stem, Dutch Filmfestival
- DVD publications: Eenoog koning: Treasures of the filmbank, TEEK DVD


Publications in English (selection)

Eye for Film :review-publication A Blooming Businessreview-publication Movie Review (2009)
Vancouver International Film Festival 2009 movie review
DOKLeipzig Healthy Workplaces Film Award EU-OSHA Mention
Edinburgh Internationa Film Festival (EIFF) web/ articles/ press / reviews
Thessaloniki Documentary Festival (TDF), Greece, March 2009, 10 pages
International Film Festival FICA , awards,reviews and articles, Brazil 2010
Docreview Poland panel debate with Frederik Gertten, 2010
Indiewire, 2009 (website)
Green Festival Seoul, Korea, 2009 (website)
Sundoc 13.09.2009 Copenhagen / Denmark  
Cinema City, Serbia, 2009
The Internet Movie Database (IMDB)  

Radio & Television / interviews
Al Jazeera English, London, International, July 2010
VRT National radio Klara, with Heidi Lenaerts, Belgium, June 2010
Deutsche Welle Ethiopia, National Germany & International Africa, June 2010
TV Cultura zoom, National Brazil June 2010
TV Cultura Reporter Eco National Brazil June 2010
Edinburgh International Film Festival 2009 - Sky Movies, Movie Geek
ET1, Thessaloniki, Greece, Tv interview, March 2009
TV10, The Netherlands, 2009
Omroep Brabant radio, March 2009
Dutch Radio interview March 2009

Publications in Dutch
Trouw (National newspaper), june 2009
Holland Doc, june 2009
NRC Next (National newspaper), june 2009
Vakblad voor de Bloemisterij, june 2009
VPRO, june 2009, guide / KRO, june 2009
Bredavandaag, March 2009, IFFB / Februari 2009
BKKC - VBF Film in Brabant, 2009 (2 pages) / poster
Filmkrant, International Film Festival Breda,2009
BN de Stem, March 2009
Eindhovens Dagblad 6 mei 2009
Zondagnieuws April 2009, / Bernhezer April 2009
TV- tip Arthouse film - Bloemen houden van mensen
Thuis in het Nieuws - Groene Engel - twee documentaires


Among the films that constitute this year’s program, the 11th TDF is proud to present the following premieres: a BLOOMING BUSINESS by Ton van Zantvoort, Netherlands a discerning look into the workings of the world flower industry, a BLOOMING BUSINESS follows the lives of Kenyan women trapped by their need for work in the global flower-growing industry, situated mostly in third world countries. While we find out that Jane, a single mother, is forced to have sex with her manager in order to keep her job in a flower-growing farm and support her family, the film shows not only the horrific human repercussions, but also the ecological damage occurring from the industry’s practices (World Premiere).

The film shows "the other side" of the beauty of flowers, through the flower industry’s slave mechanism involving Kenyan prisoners. The oppression, sexual harassment and horrible working conditions are the main characteristics of the dark and inhumane world recorded by the director Ton van Zantvoort. One conclusion can be drawn from the harsh truth - the smell of imported roses is not sweet, on the contrary, it is bitter, sodden with human misery.

EDINBUGRH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL - Wake up and smell the imported roses
Meet the people who work at least twelve hours a day on vast flower farms in Kenya to supply an insatiable global flower industry. Workers endure oppressive working conditions and few risk their livelihoods to tell their stories, but Dutch director Ton van Zantvoort has found those with the courage to do so. His poetic documentary quietly exposes the corruption, chemicals and hardships hidden behind the supermarket labels.

There is very little need to force oneself through the security gates of flower farms in Kenya in order to film the environmental destruction and abuse of workers’ rights occurring in the large-scale farms supplying a hungry Dutch flower market. The evidence is quite plain from the contaminated water spewing out of the farms, the agonising illnesses caused by chemical industrial accidents, and the toll of long working days on human beings. Very quietly, director Ton van Zantvoort lifts the lid on what could be described as enslavement. The style of his film is not over-dramatic but instead offers snapshots of life on the shores of Lake Naivasha in Kenya. Since the massive industry of flower farming – worth 400 million euros – arrived, there are very few ways to earn a living. Agnes used to be employed by one of the farms, but having worked in close proximity to harmful pesticides, she is scarred for life and knows she is now not pretty enough to be hired again. Jane, on the other hand, is still employed and clings on to her job so she can feed her children. She works at least 16 hours each day and has to be prepared to obey her supervisor, including submitting to his sexual demands. Oscar has been reduced to selling polluted water from the lake to local villagers – a demeaning job within his community. Kennedy has to continue fishing the lake in spite of dwindling fish breeding grounds since the flower farms began. The list of witnesses goes on. Everyone is powerless against the might of the flower farm and its seemingly complete disregard for human beings in favour of profit. However, the spark of hope that remains – which van Zantvoort manages to capture – exists in the dreams of these people: for a better job, for their children’s education, for a full exposé of the atrocious working conditions they have to endure in order to survive. Some are resolutely clinging to these dreams, but some are beginning to lose the battle as they are ground down. It is clear that a rose symbolises something quite different from love to those featured here. a BLOOM ING BUSINESS explores and exposes this injustice with a dignified strength.

A rose is a rose is a rose, unless it's a toxic offshoot of international corporate corruption. Director Ton van Zantvoort's unsparing portrait of the dirty reality of the flower business, may make it impossible for you look at a flower in quite the same way again. A quietly formidable film, A Blooming Business focuses on three different individuals, who make their living in the vast flower plantations that cluster thickly on the shores of Kenya's Lake Naivasha. Jane, Kennedy and Oscar are each trapped in different ways by economic desperation. Drawn by the promise of a job, Jane moved to the area, only to find the reality of work in the flower plantations to be little more than slavery. After working a 16-hour day, she makes porridge for her children and leads a solemn prayer before bed. Kennedy, reliant upon a good catch, heads out to fish the waters of Lake Naivasha every morning, but toxic runoff from the factory farms has disrupted the spawning beds and resulted in an ever-decreasing supply. Oscar, an itinerant water salesman, knowingly sells water polluted by the toxic runoff. International flower companies deny their practices have resulted in disability and disfigurement for their workers--a disavowal shown for a lie by the secretly filmed footage of toxic chemicals being sprayed a few feet away from women wearing no protective gear. Van Zantvoort's film brings a depth of poetic image to endemic horror and exploitation. But the thing that most endures is the extraordinary dignity of the individuals depicted, who simply want honest work