Helen van Dongen

Helen van Dongen (January 5, 1909 - September 28, 2006) was a pioneering editor of documentary films who was active from about 1925-1950. She collaborated with filmmaker Joris Ivens from 1925 to 1940, made several independent documentaries, and edited two of Robert Flaherty's films before retiring from filmmaking in her 40s. Born in Amsterdam, van Dongen met Joris Ivens in her teens and eventually became his key collaborator. She worked on Ivens' first films The Bridge (1928) and Rain (1929). In the 1930s she was credited as the editor of Ivens' films including Nieuwe Gronden (1934), Misère au Borinage (1934), The Spanish Earth (1937), and The 400 Million (1939). Bob Mastrangelo has written that these four films "earned Ivens a worldwide reputation, and solidified van Dongen's status as one of the most important editors of her generation." He suggests that van Dongen's most important credit was as the editor of The Spanish Earth (1937), Ivens' film about the Spanish Civil War that was narrated by Ernest Hemingway: "...almost 70 years later it remains a powerful testament to the devastating effects of civil war.


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