On Day Eight

One financial crisis. Seven tense days.

On Day Eight The financial crisis of 2008 spread like wildfire. From the fall of Lehman Brothers in the US to the largest European banks, it was a turning point that revealed the complexity of the world’s financial system. For financial giant FORTIS/ABN-Amro, double the size of Lehman, any wrong move could trigger the collapse of banks throughout Europe and the British Isles. Differences aside, now came the moment for intense collaboration. From within the heart of the crisis, the key players look back on the week that came so close to triggering global disaster.

"You have to tell the truth, but perhaps not always the whole truth", maintains Wouter Bos, Dutch Finance Minister 2008. As some of Europe’s largest banks were on the verge of collapse, Floris and ABN Amro among them, it became up to the countries’ key leaders to decide on the fate of their nations.

"We knew if [Floris] were to collapse it would create a domino effect in Holland too, and we didn’t know how the Belgians wanted to solve such a problem", recalls Bos, while then Belgian Finance Minister Didier Renyders emphasises that "there was a lack of trust between the different banks and a need for cash by Fortis for the following Monday that was just too big". As time wore on, working through the murky position of both nations would be crucial for finding a solution to a potentially global financial disaster.

Aware that theirs was one of the first European banks threatening to topple, then Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme admits that "we knew we would have to consult with the Dutch government at some point". Slowly, it dawned on leaders that they would have to come to a collective decision.

"To minimize risks with taxpayers' money and keep the banks going, nationalisation seemed the only viable option", reflects Leterme. Coming to the unconventional decision of becoming the owners of a bank, Bos concedes that "we're doing something as a government which we never wanted to do… But we've managed to halt the crisis".

After hours of negotiations and days of sleep deprivation, the two prime ministers made a compromise of 16.8 billion euros. "I had mixed feelings, but we had an agreement and it was honourable", says Leterme.

While leaders in Holland and Belgium rallied together to halt what could have lead to worldwide economic collapse, the fate of the world’s banks was far from stable. Economic agents are just humans after all, and "human nature is dangerous from a standpoint of financial stability" (Jean-Claude Trichet, European Central Bank President 2008). Questioning the ethics of our current capitalist financial framework and ruminating on its implications for our lives today, On Day Eight provides both a philosophical and an educational account of this harrowing week.

Reviews and More

"Outstanding documentary"NRC Handelsblad

"Gives a shocking insight of the financial crisis"De Morgen

"Electrifying"Het Financiële Dagblad

The Producers

Yan Ting Yuen – Co-director

Yan Ting Yuen was born in Hong Kong, China. At the age of 6 her parents moved to Europe, to open a Chinese restaurant in the Netherlands. She graduated from the University of Amsterdam with a masters degree in Communication Sciences. Yuen made her director’s debut in 2001 with the mid-length documentary ‘Chin.Ind.: Life behind the serving hatch’ which was nominated for the National Dutch Film Award. In 2012 she directed the highly rated feature length documentary 'The Secret of Hema’. In 2017, her fourth feature length documentary, about her family’s history came out.

Robert Kosters – Co-director

Robert Kosters is an investigative journalist and researcher. He is interested in a wide range of topics, from food till the financial world, often with an economic angle. He writes articles as well as works for television. He worked a.o. for Vrij Nederland, Follow the Money and Quote, made a television series with Jort Kelder ‘Het Snelle Geld’ (‘Fast Money’) for Dutch broadcaster VPRO and works regularly for the renowned Dutch journalistic series ‘Tegenlicht’ (‘Backlight’). In 2015 he won the most important Dutch journalistic award De Tegel, in the category background, with his story ‘How Jan Bennink gained millions with a shady coffee deal).

Fabie Hulsebos – Producer

Fabie Hulsebos started her carrier working on various Dutch feature films drama series and documentaries. Since 2012, she is Docmakers’ managing director and producer. Recent productions she worked on: Boudewijn de Groot-come closer (90’, best music documentary IDFA 2016), Quid pro quo (50’, winner Dutch Golden Calf for short Documentary 2016), 0,03 seconds, (90’, dutch release, Kristal Film (more than 10.000 visitors in cinema), A Butcher’s Heart (15’, youth documentary, Cinekid Kinderkast award). She is also a freelance screenwriter, developing documentary, animation and feature film projects.

Making The Film

Filmed in intimate interview-setting, and by use of point-of-view scenes, our main characters share with us their darkest thoughts and their deepest fears. What was at stake here was not just the 'economy', but 'our way of living'. They tell us what went on behind the scenes of the daily news-items that we, ordinary citizens, were watching. In front of the camera, they were trying to keep us calm. Now they will tell us what they were really thinking and what they were trying to protect us from. How they 'fixed' the broken economy and how we were 'saved'. But are we truly safe now? In On Day Eight, we reconstruct the facts in order to tell a bigger story. It is a story about a world which has become so complex that even leaders fail to provide answers and often don’t know what to do. What does that imply about our lives today. What does it mean for our future? Is it dark? Or is there hope?

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