Watch two boys’ rapid and ruthless coming-of-age

Director Mees Peijnenburg’s graduation film documents the fragility of life and the precariousness of friendship

At 18-years-old, Sven and Gijs are best friends on the cusp of adventure: clubbing, meeting girls, planning their trip to South America on motorbikes. No one can stop them. But just like that, the fragility of life rushes towards them when Gijs is put into a coma after intervening in a fight to protect Sven.

Even Cowboys Get to Cry illustrates the rapid and ruthless coming-of-age for the boys, propelled into adulthood by an accident that brings fear, guilt, anger and the precariousness of their friendship. It’s the graduation film of Amsterdam-born Mees Peijnenburg of the Netherlands Film Academy, exploring the reality of friendship, growing up and painful emotion.

“I recalled a sentence my best friend told me when we were 12-years-old,” says director Peijnenburg. “He told me back then that if you never cry, your tears will dry and so you could never cry again. As a 12-year-old I really thought this could be true, since I didn't cry so much.

When life gets real, and pain is around the corner, everybody is swiped away by tears. Even cowboys, the symbol of the alpha male.”

Peijnenburg captures a story close to him, that happened to people he knew. While playing with the plot, the ‘emotional rollercoaster’ that he witnessed is raw and real.

Sven and Gijs find each other again, but the journey ahead is long. “I wanted to make an homage to friendship,” he explains. “Show people the fighting spirit inside people’s emotions when it comes to those you really care about.”