Films & Projects by
Nina Spiering & Mirka Duijn

About Us

Studio Kimmo

Studio Kimmo, with its bases in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Gothenburg, Sweden, embodies the creative partnership of filmmakers Mirka Duijn and Nina Spiering.

Selected awards:
International Digital EMMY® Award, 2015
Peabody Award, 2019
Prix Europe, 2014

Mirka Duijn and Nina Spiering have a history of creating documentary, fiction, and experimental film projects, as well as journalistic productions such as The Industry and Last Hijack Interactive. Their projects always start with in-depth research, delving deeply into their chosen subjects.  They have a particular interest in the mediation of place and identity.
The duo often works with archives and archival material, renegotiating historical narratives. Whatever project they work on - they at all times aim to enchant audiences with bold aesthetics and sweeping musical landscapes.  Their most recent project, Shangri-La, Paradise under Construction, premiered at IDFA 2022 and competed for Best Dutch Film. Currently, they are working on Paradise Pt II, an ‘ABC about romentic clichés about nature’, questioning how the romantic-gaze on nature influenced human relations with their environment.

Download the Studio Kimmo portfolio/CV pdf (2023).

The history of Studio Kimmo 

Mirka initiated her professional journey at the VPRO Digital broadcasting station in 2003, where she immersed herself in experimental interactive and trans-media storytelling for various web and TV projects. In 2008, she chose to concentrate solely on writing and directing film and media projects. The renegotiation of technology often served as a focal point in her work, leading to the development of pivotal interactive and immersive projects, such as Last Hijack Interactive in 2014 (Digital EMMY Award 2014), and The Industry (Peabody Award 2019).

Nina graduated from the University of the Arts in Utrecht in 2007, boasting a background in spatial design and video for theatre, working closely with prominent Dutch theatre companies such as Orkater and Oostpool. Although her focus eventually shifted to film, her foundation in 3D space still strongly influences her approach as a director and production designer.

Their artistic collaboration commenced in 2004 within a shared musical landscape, gradually expanding to encompass a multitude of music videos, films, installations, and performances. Over time, they delved into the realms of fiction and documentary film, exploring a wide array of forms, including installations, interactive film, and film for museum contexts. Notable projects, such as "Land of Change" (2013), have epitomized their creative journey, probing questions about cultural heritage in the evolving landscape of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen.

Aside from their collaborative efforts, Mirka Duijn serves as a Senior Lecturer in Film at the MFA in Film program at HDK-Valand in Göteborg, a program that prioritizes decolonial practices and pedagogies. Nina Spiering is a lecturer in film at the University of the Arts in Utrecht.
The Stories we Tell

We, humans, tell stories to understand the world. Storytelling is a way of structuring a chaos consisting of events, feelings, memories  into an understandable, agreeable whole, consciously or unconsciously incorporating certain impressions, while leaving out others. The question is: How does one get from a set of experiences to a narrative? How does one shape the process from the first encounter, through the organisation of one's impressions, to a final story that does justice to the experienced reality? This question is at the core of all of our projects, not only for ourselves as makers, but in general in society: What narratives do people create to cope with reality? 

“When you are in the middle of a story it isn't a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.”

― Margaret Atwood, Alias grace (1996)

Paradise Pt. II 
Project under Development, 2023

The Natural Colonial-Gaze: Desiring the Exotic

In Paradise Part II, we will dive into a world of trees, and the stories we tell about them.

In the quest to make sense of their environment, humans rely on narratives, stories and myths. Storytelling is a way of structuring a chaos consisting of events, feelings, memories  into an understandable, agreeable whole, consciously or unconsciously incorporating certain impressions, while leaving out others. And these stories that we tell matter. Because these stories shape how we relate to the world, and how we deal with our environment. The stories we tell shape the very world we live in.

In our last project, Shangri-La, Paradise under Construction, we explored this theme, focussing on a town that proved to be the real Shangri-La, a fictional paradise on earth. We explored the myths and realities, fact and fiction behind this new Shangri-La, to find out how fact and fiction melted together, forming a new reality.

In Paradise Pt. II we shift our focus to the stories that we tell about nature, with a focus on trees. In Western thought, nature is usually regarded as something that is ‘outside ourselves’, something that we, humans, are not really a part of. Nature serves as an escape from the complexities of our human lifes. We think of nature as something that is malleable, something that we can use for our own benefits, a resource. These narratives are heavily influenced by the natural colonial-gaze, a lens through which nature has often been perceived as a realm to be dominated, controlled and exploited. The current climate crisis demands a shift in this perspective on nature. We need to find new stories that enable us to relate differently to our environment. Most of us are aware of this by now, but we seem not to be too good at changing these narratives just yet.

In this project we will explore the portrayal of nature and trees in the present as well as the past, delving into the historical evolution of the representation of trees. The final project will consist of a mosaic of case studies. Each case study will revolve around a situation in which there is a tension between the story that is being told and the underlying reality, the synthetic and the real. Our goal is to unravel at what points in history the depiction of nature has strayed and with what consequences... In the present-day case studies we hope to focus on people who try to shift their focus on nature. Will this be with any success?

This project is in development.

General interest 

In the quest to make sense of their environment, humans rely on narratives, stories and myths that they tell themselves and others. But the narratives that are shaped around our relation to nature are heavily influenced by the natural colonial-gaze, a lens through which nature has often been perceived as a realm to be dominated and controlled.

Throughout history, narratives have shaped our perception of nature as an external, pristine entity, fostering an idealized escape from the complexities of human existence. However, this idealized portrayal has hindered our capacity to foster a holistic and sustainable rapport with the environment, resulting in a disconnect between our constructed stories and the complex realities they represent.

Despite the growing awareness of the need for a paradigm shift in our narrative approach to nature, we continue to struggle in reconciling the preconceived notions of the romanticized and enlightened views of nature. This tension between the constructed narrative and the authentic reality of our environmental challenges has led to a profound disconnect, perpetuating the colonial proposition that nature exists solely for our exploitation and benefit.
Telephone poles disguised as trees in Utah. 

In exploring the contemporary landscape and tracing the historical trajectory of humanity's portrayal of nature, it becomes evident that the roots of this dissonance can be found in the flawed narratives that have long dominated our understanding of the natural world. 

Paradise Pt II project will exist out of a mosaic of case studies around this proposition. We are working with cases where there is a tension between the narrative that is created and the underlying represented reality, the synthetic and the real. We will both focus on the present day, as well as tracing back history of the image of nature, asking ourselves the question: where and how did it go wrong, and with what consequences?

The first sequoia tree that was transported to a world fair in the US, after being ‘discovered’ in California by Western settlers. The bark was peeled off the original tree, transported and assembled at the fair. The tree was assembled so poorly, that visitors thought the it was a fake, a hoax, and for several years the discovery was not taken seriously at all.
Shangri-La, Paradise under Construction
Research, 2015 - 2025

The documentary ‘Shangri-La, Paradise under Construction’ (2023) is part of a longer research trajectory. 

When it comes to believing things without actual evidence, we all incline to what we find most attractive. - James Hilton, Lost Horizon, 1933

The research is rooted in the field of documentary filmmaking and centers around the concept of the representation of reality, particularly within the context of post-colonial discourse. Operating as documentary filmmakers in the contemporary post-truth era, which is characterized by the prevalent discussions regarding fake news and the decline of factual accuracy in media, our objective is to investigate the various approaches that documentary filmmakers can employ to participate in a realm of representation that extends beyond, and sometimes challenges, the dynamics of mass media. This endeavor is guided by the aim of decolonizing documentary practices, focussing on a.o., polyvocality as cinematic strategy.

Within this broader context, our study focuses on mass media in relation to tourism. It acknowledges the concept of the tourist gaze, as articulated by John Urry in 1990, as a contemporary extension of the colonial gaze. our research focuses on a specific case study, namely, a marketing campaign designed to promote Shangri-La, a Tibetan town in China, as  a prominent tourist destination. This campaign has been constructed upon the political and cultural legacy of the colonial gaze directed toward Tibet. In the pursuit of this research, we have traced the historical evolution of the image associated with Shangri-La and Tibet, commencing from the contemporary era and meticulously retracing it back to the colonial depictions in film as well as photography. This exploration highlights how the contemporary image is intrinsically linked as a legacy of the colonial representations.

The outcome of this research has been multifold: Mirka Duijn and Nina Spiering have given lecture performances, have written publications and exhibited installations (see below) in the context of this research, while at the same time working towards the final documentary essay. 

The documentary film was completed in the fall of 2022, and its TV counterpart in the spring of 2023. Mirka Duijn is currently finishing her Ph.D. thesis, the focus is on advancing towards the finalization of the written component of the thesis. In line with the polyvocal approach of the film, the written component will be based on a series of conversations with specialists in the field of documentary film, artistic research and archival practices.

Aim of this research

We live in a time in which rhetoric about fake news, the death of facts and even ‘the collapse of reality’ prevail. As a documentary maker, concerned with the representation of reality, we think it is more important than ever to be the one who critically and actively seeks to engage in a sphere of representation beyond – or even in opposition to – mass media and its dynamics. Starting from a process-relational (performative) take on reality in relation to the act of filmmaking, questioning the representation of reality and subsequent interaction with/appropriation of the image, I try to understand the image not as the neutral picturing of reality but as a way of coming to terms with reality through images and narrative. Being documentary makers, this research starts from within the cinematic practice, thinking through images and sounds, using the filmmaking practice as a conceptual framework, a methodological vehicle (filming, editing, framing) and as a means of dissemination. 

Installation in Eye Museum, 2015
Publication in I Experience as I Experiment, I Experiment as I Experience, KUVA, Denise Ziegler (2019)

Shangri-La, Paradise under Construction
Documentary, 2023

Shangri-La, Paradise under Construction (2022)
Directors: Mirka Duijn & Nina Spiering

A travelogue through Shangri-La; the fictitious paradise from the classic novel Lost Horizon (1933). Twenty years ago a Tibetan tourist spot in China presented scientific proof that it was the real Shangri-La. In her search for the truth behind the supposed evidence the filmmaker excavates layers of fact and fiction of the area. What words and images have attached themselves to facts? How do stories come into being and how do they shape reality?

Presently, the film is being internationally distributed, making its way to various festivals, television broadcasts, and video-on-demand platforms.

The film is part of a wider research project, with multiple outcomes, amongst which publications, installations and lecture performances. Read more about the research behind the project here.


SVT Sweden, 2023
NPO Netherlands, due in 2023 


World premiere at IDFA, International Film Festival in Amsterdam, 2022, in competition for Best Dutch Documentary.
DocPoint Tallin/Helsinki 2023, Trento Internation

al Film Festival 2023, Millennium Docs Against Gravity Warsaw 2023 Dutch Film Festival 2023

Film Theatre
Theatrical release in 23 film theatres in the Netherlands in January 2023.  
Nominations, prices

Nominated ‘Best Dutch Documentary at IDFA, 2022’, Nominated Best Film Music for Documentary, BUMA Netherlands, 2023’, in Competition at Trento Film Festival, 2023, in Competition at Millennium Docs Against Gravity Warsaw 2023  

International Sales:
Journeyman Pictures

Produced by:
De Productie (NL),
Film Kreatörerna (SE),
Studio Kimmo (NL)

Funded by:
Dutch Film Fund,
Amsterdam Fund for the Art
Swedish Film Fund.

Read the reviews in Newspapers:

NRC Newspaper ︎︎︎︎
Volkskrant ︎︎︎
Fries Dagblad ︎︎︎︎
Telegraaf ︎︎︎1/2
Parool review
Trouw review
Filmkrant review

Read the international IDA-review

“A film that richly explores the creation of meaning from different perspectives that infuse the project of “paradise under construction,” and leaves viewers with hard questions to ask themselves about exoticization and power.” - Patricia Aufderheide

Read the international Modern Times Review:

“In their film Shangri-La, Paradise under Construction, directors Mirka Duijn and Nina Spiering reconsidered the most basic premises of documentary filmmaking – truth, evidence, and interpretation.”

“Even if the fantastic nature of Shangri-La might indicate that this documentary will be about fantasy, it is not. The key theme of Shangri-La, Paradise Under Construction, is the reality and the mysterious ways of its construction.”  - Melita Zajc

Other media:

Listen to an interview on Opium Radio (in Dutch).

Interview in the Dutch Film Newspaper: Filmkrant (in Dutch).

Interview in SEE.NL (in English).

Listen to an interview on the Ketelhuis Podcast (In Dutch).

Land of Change
Documentary, museum 2013

Land of Change, the Zeeland Archives Project (2013)
Directors: Mirka Duijn & Nina Spiering

What is it like to live in a region where everything is changing? How do you deal with the loss, but also with the new gains? This film project holds a collage of portraits of inhabitants of the Dutch region West Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, amidst the marches, mudflats and the ever-present wind.

This film was made for the Dutch Zeeuws Museum. It has been developed as a part of their Islands Archive Project The museum asked inhabitants of Zeeland to make films about aspects of or objects from/in Zeeland that they would like to be ‘remembered forever’. The films were stored in the Islands Archive.

The purpose of this request was to get a gestalt view of the present-day cultural identity of Zeeland. As we watched these films, we asked ourselves: are the subjects filmed by the participants indeed being ‘remembered’ by being added to this archive? Can one glean any knowledge about the present-day cultural identity of Zeeland from this archive? And how could we, filmmakers, add to this act of remembering, by restructuring and (re)visualise the contents of the archive?

For this project we took the films from the Zeeland archive as a base for a new narrative, which is build around several core portraits of inhabitants of Zeeland. Some of the found footage is used as-is, but most of it is repurposed around recurring themes.

More information about the film:

West Zeeuws-Vlaanderen is a secluded part of the Netherlands. It is not connected to the Netherlands by land, you can only get there over water or through a tunnel, and you have to pay for both options. 

Over centuries this area has been in constant change. The geography, the sea and the constant battle against the seawater dictated most of the changes.

Nowadays the changes in the region are of a different kind. The geography still plays a big part in it though: just as in many other secluded area’s in Europe, Zeeuws-Vlaanderen is rapidly changing because of macro-economic changes. A lot of old industries are dying. For ages most inhabitants were farmers and fishermen. But now the fishing industry hardly exists anymore; it disappeared within the last 20 years. Next to that,  as a result of the expansion of farms, a lot of farmers are leaving the region. Finally, also young people leave: There is no work for them in the area. As a result the population is aging rapidly. These changes have been going on for years, but at this moment the changes are gaining momentum. The government tries to deal with the problems by focusing on a new industry: tourism. Polders are dug out to give space for artificial lakes and grand marina’s.

The local inhabitants find themselves amid this transformative period: much has already vanished, yet the emergence of new developments is still on the horizon. They are holding their breath while waiting for the tourists to come.

This film is a poetic collage of portraits of inhabitants of the area. Among them, for example, skipper Jaap Albrechtse (63), who retires from his work and sails his ship to Africa. And the 22-year-old Mariëlle Notebaart. At workdays you can find her behind the counter of the Texaco gas station. During festivities she has got an other job though: she is elected to be the towns’ ‘Shrimp Princess’. Another character is Foort Lokerse (59), the head of the fish auction. He wants to turn his fish auction into a Fish Experience for tourists for whom he will place a ship on the roof of his building; it will be his own fish theme park. He hopes it will save the identity of Breskens as a fishing town.

The portraits of Jaap, Mariëlle, Foort and many others together form one story, the story about change in West Zeeuws-Vlaanderen.

Broeder Dieleman, musician from Zeeuws-Vlaanderen (internationally known for his collaborations with a.o., Bonnie Prince Billy, has made almost all the music for the film. His music, together with the sound of water, wind and seagulls, forms a base for the rhythm of the film.

Fragments from the film (7:30”).
The full film can be seen here.

The film has been added to the permanent collection of the Zeeuws Museum. After having been exhibited in the temporary Islands Exhibition in 2014,the film was added to the permanent exhibition from 2017 to 2022, becoming an integral part of their curated showcase.

Produced by: Zeeuws Museum, Serious Film, Studio Kimmo.


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