Column | Dutch film wallows in death and mourning

The success of the Netherlands Film Festival (NFF) this year will also bereflected in the size of the panda eyes at premiere parties. The smearedmascara of brightly made-up visitors after a game of crying in the cinema.After all, all four feature film premieres on this 42nd edition are aboutmourning and losing a child, loved one or parent much too early.

This is how the festival opens with Sea of ​​Time , based in part on thetrue story of a young couple in the 1980s. While sailing around the world,they experience every parent’s nightmare: their son disappears and is neverfound. Back in the Netherlands, their relationship breaks down during therecovery process. Also in narcosis mourned for an untraceable body. Adiver’s family has to move on after he has not surfaced after a job. Inclosing film bo A troubled young woman travels to her father’s grave inGeorgia and begins a tempestuous relationship. And then there’s femi whichshows that a twenty-something who has a child has never come to terms with thesuicide of his own father.

Peter de Bruijn established in corona time, when many Dutch people lost lovedones to Covid, that relatively few films have been made about mourning. Thereare well-known examples: films by Ingmar Bergman, or closer to home TheBroken Circle Breakdown (2012) and Tonio (2016) __. But their number issmall when you consider that everyone loses loved ones in his life.

The wave of mourning films that is flooding NFF this year is not becausemakers and financiers became aware of a defect in corona times, says NFFprogrammer Claire van Daal. “Many of the films shown were already planned orready for the crisis.” She calls the fact that they are released and selectedfor the festival at the same time a coincidence. She does notice that manyyoung Dutch film makers throw themselves into the subject. The directors of_femi_ and narcosis are 29 and 39 respectively. And at the festival is alsorunning Pink Moon by Floor van der Meulen, in their thirties, in which a sonand daughter go through a grieving process before their father opts foreuthanasia.

Is there less fear among novice makers these days about raising this heavytheme? Possibly. What is also striking about these debuting Dutch directors isthat they do not choose, like Theu Boermans in the opening film, to look agrieving process straight in the eye and to portray it straight forward. Theyoung makers on NFF cross the processing of a loss with other genres. So is_Pink Moon_ in addition to grieving, it is also an absurd comedy that providesloaded moments with clumsiness. In femi the protagonist tackles hisunresolved past with Nigerian voodoo, with a thriller-like result. Because ofthese crossover elements, the films easily manage to maintain the precariousbalance that grief films simply are: you want to take the viewer into the painof the main character, but not let him drown in a sea of ​​sadness.

One of the most elegant solutions to that balancing act can be seen in thisyear’s documentary _L ‘Amour La Mort _by Ramon Gieling. His film states thatdeath and love are inextricably linked. He opens with the question: “Would yourather love more and suffer more than love less and suffer less?” Most ofthose portrayed seem to gravitate towards the former, despite immense agony.