The Family


Renata Heinen studied communications in Antwerp. After her studies she decided to follow her true calling: the path of a self-made free-spirited artist, expressing herself in word and image. Her versatility manifests in many different art forms: from painting on life-size canvas and found materials to metal sculptures and from writing to her current adventures in filmmaking.

Renata’s desire not to conform to society’s common denominator became the drive behind the search for a change of rhythm and lifestyle for her and her family. Her encounter with the Native Americans and their connected way-of-life was an obvious fact. For four years she lived with her partner and their three small children in the woods of Upper Michigan, enjoying a life closer to nature and learning from the Native American wisdom. When the vision came to travel the world to make a film about the Keepers of the Earth, it was the ultimate project where she could bring her various roles and professional skills together in a totally open-ended adventure. With her years of experience as a storyteller and screenplay writer, Renata’s desire was to create the weft and capture the spirit of the journey. Her aim was to ensure that the film would primarily be an experience, using all cinematic means to convey the energy and connectedness of the Earth Keepers.  


Rolf has his professional roots in the corporate world. His incessant drive to understand and make better use of human potential led him to found his own leadership consulting firm at the age of 30. The next 10 years he travelled Europe as boardroom consultant and coach, working for some of the largest corporations in the world. Through his in-depth experiences with leaders and decision making at the top of the corporate pyramid, Rolf also gained an insight into the stranglehold our established structures have on organisations and their leaders; the damaging effects of their short-term focus and their lack of a holistic vision. He started searching for a different perspective and a key to renewal. When he was exposed to the leadership principles and the way-of-life of the Anishnabe (first Native Americans), he felt he had found that key.

The Native American vision on life and their way-of-being resonated so strongly with him and his wife that they left their successful cosmopolitan life behind. They retreated for four years with their three young children into the woods of Upper Michigan in order to gain a deeper understanding of the wisdom and heritage of the Native Americans. Then he decided to go with his family on a year-long journey around the world, in search for the Keepers of the Earth.

Rolf continues his work with leaders around the world, now integrating the wisdom and insights he gained from the Keepers of the Earth.


DOWN to EARTH was the journey of a family. And the journey or the film wouldn’t have turned out the way they have without the children. They were the starting point of the whole adventure and proved to be the ‘door openers’ to be welcomed by remote & protected indigenous communities. But not just that, they are part of the film making team as it was the footage on their camera’s that saved the day! When they went on their journey Renata and Rolf had no intention for the family to be in the film. They were determined to make a film about the Earth Keepers through the lens of their camera, with the family staying behind it at all times. However, when audiences and film consultants saw their (first version of) the film in 2012, they pressed them to incorporate the story of the family’s journey in the film. They had no filmed material… until they discovered footage of the family on the camera’s of the children. That enabled them to weave the story of the family into the film.

More from The Film