America, 1926: Twenty-four-year-old Antonia Brico (Christanne de Bruijn), who emigrated as a child from Holland to America with her parents (Annet Malherbe and Raymond Thiry), dreams of becoming a conductor, an ambition not taken seriously by anyone. Her piano teacher even advises her not to bother trying to enter the conservatory. With little left to lose, she returns to her homeland, where she begs the famous conductor Mengelberg (Gijs Scholten van Aschat) for conducting lessons. Mengelberg sends her to Berlin, where there more opportunities for a woman. After her two-year study at the Berlin State Academy of Music, she is given the chance to be the first woman to conduct the famous Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. The tension is almost too much for her when the love of her life offers her a choice between love or music. What will Antonia choose?
De Dirigent (The Conductor) is based on the true story of the Netherlands’ Antonia Brico. At the end of the 1920s she was the first female conductor in the world to successfully conduct large symphony orchestras. Until recently, women barely managed to reach the top of the world-ranking list of leading conductors. This year, for the first time in Dutch history, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra nominated a female chief conductor: Karina Canellakis.