The various activities performed by Paul Hegeman are nearly all supplied by a great passion for cinema. This was the case during his French and Philosophy study and was the topic for his master thesis in which he explored the relationship between Film and Surrealism. After having worked for a few years as a French teacher, he turned his passion into his occupation and has now already made hundreds of films/programs for among others like the VPRO, NPS, VARA, AVRO, NCRV and Arte. In addition, he worked for more than 25 years as a journalist and in particular for Elsevier, HP/De Tijd and the VPRO Gids in which he wrote a weekly article about cinema in all its facets.
Recurring themes in his work are a strong involvement in social matters – he made films about the Spectacle Society, pollution, asylum seekers, immigrants and gambling addiction -, love for the African continent and music in the broadest sense of the word. In fact, his most remarkable films rest on these three pillars. In Spirit, show and songs (IKON, 1994) he explores the relationship between music and spirituality with Leonard Cohen as guide. Youssou N’Dour also plays an important role explaining how music and spirituality in Africa are tied together. Mali Blues (NPS/Arte, 2002) is a documentary about the triumph of a musical culture in one of the poorest countries in the world. The heroes are back home (VPRO, 1999), a documentary about the Cuban music of then and now, displays in an almost identical way how culture and music come face to face with each other. The more recent New life in Congo (2012), a documentary about mother-child relationship in East-Congo, shows where music became silent due to excessive violence. Live to be a hundred (2012) about the conductor and harpsichordist Ton Koopman, in a way builds on the many music specials he made in the 1990s for VPRO’s Loladamusica, that vary from portraits of the ECM label, Bill Laswell, Peter Hammill, Can and the sound of Dakar, to the Cuban tradition and the legacy of Stockhausen.
In 1996 he founded a film theatre, Cinebergen, in his hometown Bergen, of which he is still the artistic director and programmer.