This series of 10 films highlights the work of Dutch directors who find their inspiration in a host of global locations. Tussenland/Sleeping Rough, a sensitive, award-winning first feature by Eugenie Jansen, explores the ghosts of Holland’s colonial past alongside the lives of recent immigrants from Africa. Jakob, a cantankerous, eightysomething widower, served his country as a soldier over 50 years ago in Indonesia; Majok, an unemployed Sudanese youth who spends most of his time communing with cows at pasture, sleeps on a bench in the old man’s garden. With a documentarian’s keen eye for detail, Jansen follows the halting friendship that develops between these two characters, united in their sense of loss and displacement.
Veteran director George Sluizer travels to the far tip of Europe with The Stoneraft, his sly, visionary adaptation of the novel by Nobel laureate and Portuguese author José Saramago. A mysterious fault opens in the Pyrenees, separating France from Spain. American crews are called in to heal the rift, but soon the entire Iberian peninsula is drifting free of the continent, across the wide ocean. Three men, two women, and one dog have received mystical signs of the impending disaster; the film tells the story of their coming together and journeying across a land increasingly prey to hysteria. Sluizer manages to strike a delicate balance between magical realism and biting political satire in this engaging allegory of failed pan-European aspirations.
This year’s selection is particularly rich in films by women directors, including several documentaries. First Kill, by Coco Schrijber, examines what former Vietnam correspondent Michael Herr (author of Dispatches) calls “the upside of war”—the seductive lure of killing. Schrijber interviews Herr and a number of Vietnam veterans, juxtaposing their often startling and disturbing testimony with images of contemporary tourists in Vietnam, crawling through tunnels for vicarious thrills. Some vets express deep remorse, but one dreams of going back to continue the job. Though repetitive at times, Schrijber’s film is a chilling (and timely) indictment of the human propensity for violence.