Mission NS

The train. We wait for it. We travel on it. We complain about it. Whether it’s because the train is late, overcrowded or too expensive.  Transporting a million passengers each day, every citizen has experience of travelling with NS (the Netherlands’ national railway company) and everyone has an opinion about it. The film Mission NS shows a little-known side of the company: the struggle that takes place behind the scenes to keep passengers satisfied. NS started to create stories in an effort to achieve this mission, because stories can help make sense of this complex world. Theirs are stories dedicated to making passengers happier, even when the trains are running late.

Mission NS is a mosaic put together from two strongly contrasting worlds. On the one hand we see the formal head office, where workers put their heart and soul into projecting a more customer-friendly image and where inspirational films or vlogs are shown ahead of every meeting to give staff a boost. On the other hand we see the ‘shop floor’, which often reflects a completely different reality from the story that workers are supposed to propagate. It is a far bleaker everyday reality, where the rush-hour mentality, anonymity, carelessness and dissatisfaction prevail. Where many passengers, earphones in position, appear to be ensconced in their own stories, unaware of what is going on around them. Mission NS, directed by Catherine van Campen, is not only about the national rail company, but also about the Netherlands in 2019, where everyone can reinvent themselves every day…