• Dok.fest Munich Int'l Documentary Festival

  • Millenium Film Festival

  • Salt Spring Film Festival

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English, Dutch, German with English subtitles

With Tanja Nijmeijer, Jorge Enrique Botero, Jineth Bedoya

What makes a nice, young middle-class Dutch woman want to join a revolutionary struggle thousands of miles from home?

In the early 2000s, 19-year-old Tanja left the Netherlands to work as an au pair in Colombia, where she was quickly confronted with the country’s political turmoil. Horrified by the injustice she witnessed, she joined FARC, the largest guerrilla army in the world, taking up arms to fight for the cause.

The film tracks Tanja’s evolution from a young idealist to a key member of FARC, involved in high-stakes operations and eventually becoming part of the delegation in peace negotiations that ended Latin America’s longest civil war. Mettelsiefen, an experienced conflict documentary filmmaker, captures Tanja’s complex journey and the emotional depth behind her radical decision.

Tanja’s diaries, discovered in a 2007 raid, reveal her internal struggles and dissatisfaction with jungle life, contrasting with her later defiant public stance. The documentary balances this personal insight with the broader context of Colombia’s conflict.

Now living a low-profile life in Colombia due to an Interpol arrest warrant, Tanja’s reunion with her family remains out of reach. Opinions about her are divided, with some viewing her as a misguided idealist and others as a committed revolutionary. The film challenges gender biases in media portrayals of female revolutionaries, questioning societal expectations of likability.

Tanja – Up in Arms is a thought-provoking exploration of a woman’s radical choices and their profound impact, offering a gripping narrative set against the backdrop of Colombia’s enduring conflict.


“What makes a nice, young middle-class Dutch woman want to join a revolutionary struggle thousands of miles from home? That is one of the questions asked in Marcel Mettelsiefen’s probing new feature documentary.” – Geoffrey Macnab, Business Doc Europe

“The documentary features some striking new interview material with its main protagonist.” – Geoffrey Macnab, Business Doc Europe

About the Director
Marcel Mettelsiefen was born in Munich and grew up in Germany and Spain. He studied political science and medicine at Humboldt University in Berlin. In his twenties, he worked as a photojournalist and has reported from throughout the Middle East and Afghanistan.

He is an EMMY, BAFTA, and Grimme Award-winning filmmaker. In 2017, Mettelsiefen was nominated for an Academy Award® in the Best Documentary Short Subject category for Watani: My Homeland at the 89th Academy Awards. He also won three EMMY Awards and two BAFTA, among other recognitions.

His films on the Syrian civil war such as Syria: Children on the Frontline (2014), Children on the Frontline: The Escape (2016), and Watani: My Homeland (2016) have earned him critical appraisal and recognition.