By Ivo Dimitrov & Laura Vinacua
Sweeping Dutch dramas that will make the nationalist in you cry from happiness, low-budget indie flicks to watch with your hipster friends, fascinating documentaries and even an old fashioned Drive-In for your date… Yes, the Dutch Film Festival has arrived.
Film junkies, rejoice! Utrecht is once again getting ready to welcome film-makers and film-lovers from around the country for the 32nd annual ‘Nederland’s Film Festival’. The two-week festival will celebrate Dutch cinema from last year in various categories, with screenings, premieres and amateur competitions. More than 150,000 visitors are expected and you, the well-educated and arts-loving UCU student, will undoubtedly be one of them.
A good starting point to discovering the festival is its most prominent feature: the Golden Calf awards, also known as the Dutch Oscars. It’s a great way to catch up on the most prominent films you might otherwise have missed during their run in the cinema. Awards will be given in categories like Best Film, Best Short Film, Best Documentary and Best TV Drama.
But what if you’re not that keen on mainstream movies? No worries, you can check out the two other competitions of the festival: NFF Debut Competition and the Student Competition. The animal-defenders will find an original approach to the injustices committed in the food industry; Facing Animals questions the contrast between our relationship with animals in the food industry and with our pets. Why do we degrade some and humanize others? This film will be screened at the Vancouver film festival at the same time. On a completely independent and low-budget note, also check out the student competition section on the website of the festival. You can even watch some short-films online for free!
If you’re not that interested in the competitions, nominees and galas, this festival has something else to offer you. The Film Routes category is scheduled every day and offers screenings grouped into duos focused on the same theme. “Crisis?” is one of them, but don’t be fooled by the predictability of the topic, as the answers to this question are far from standard. While Domino Effect studies the more individual and emotional aspect of the crisis: how the actions of a few have produced a “domino effect” and affected lives all over the world in extremely dramatic ways, Off the Grid examines some original ways in which entire communities in the United States have chosen to cope with this crisis, to fight against the oppression of the economic system. A town that has started using an alternative currency to the dollar is just one example of a great number of community-run initiatives that will blow your mind. Whilst one film portrays those worst affected by the economic crisis as passive victims, the other focuses on active agents that have been able to take control of their lives on a local level.
But, wait, don’t run off to watch them just yet! There are a few catches to attending. If international, you might consider going through those Discovering the Dutch notes from last year, as most films are without subtitles. Also, going for the non-stop Dutch film experience will be quite costly, but you can get a free pass by volunteering. And even if you don’t have the time because of mid-terms, or don’t feel like spending a whole weekend in front of a screen, you can always just stop by for a single screening with your friends. At least you’ll have something else besides last night’s bar gossip to discuss during lunch.