Review: ‘Jimmy on the Run’

Directed by Wytse Koetse, “Jimmy on the Run” is a captivating seven minute documentary about the life of Amsterdam fashion and street photographer Huang Jianmin, better known by his professional moniker:  ‘Jimmy on the Run.’

During the film, viewers get to see Jimmy in his element—on the city streets connecting with people from all types of backgrounds doing what he loves—taking their pictures. Viewers have their own chance to connect with Jimmy when he sits down and shares details about his personal life, how his world changed after immigrating from rural China to bustling Amsterdam when he was a teenager, and the complex relationship he now has with his parents after breaking from traditional career expectations to follow his dreams of becoming a professional photographer.

Many of Jimmy’s photographs can be seen across social media. In fact, it was through a friend on Facebook where Koetse first encountered Jimmy’s street photography. “Next thing I knew I was out filming without knowing my subject and without a script, just a gut feeling,” Koetse says.

One of the things that draws me to Koetse’s films is how he is able to show viewers the authentic heart of his subjects in such a short amount of time. Few filmmakers are able to successfully do this in under fifteen minutes, let alone less than ten, if even at all. Koetse excels at it. His sense of story is exceptional. This is evident in his cinematography, which conveys feelings without words to his editing which, as you’ll see in “Jimmy on the Run,” captures Jimmy’s energy, passion, and all-around genuine demeanor perfectly.

“The beautiful thing about making these short documentaries is that you get to meet and discover somebody through your lens,” Koetse says.

Jimmy is not only a very talented photographer, he’s also a magician in approaching people and making them feel instantly at ease. I witnessed this on the streets of Amsterdam as you can see in the first part of the film. Some people like looking at cars, Jimmy loves looking at people. Photography is something that’s simply ‘in his eye’ as he himself states.

Behind all this great ambition and kindness lies a deeper story about his struggle with family expectations and about how the recognition of his family is his biggest driving force.

The end result is a stunning portrait of a man who is a role model for artistic freedom, not just in his work but for choosing to do such work on his own terms, and whose photography shares the beautiful diversity of the people of Amsterdam with the world.

To learn more about Jimmy, check out this great interview he did recently with What’s on Weibo and visit JimmyOnTheRun.com to see a collection of his photographs.

Posted by Alison F.

Founder and Head Writer - Documentary Drive

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