Young Dutch auteurs pursue a fine tradition

Following in the footsteps of significant Dutch documentary filmmakers who created a school of thought with exceptional work produced during the interwar period, a newer wave of colleagues from the Netherlands are being recognized for their efforts throughout the world. The success of the Amsterdam Documentary Festival, which ranks as one of the world’s most important events in its field and is highly supportive of domestic talent, is no coincidence. Modern Dutch documentaries will be the focus at this year’s 9th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, scheduled for March 16 to 25. A total of seven productions will premiere at the festival in northern Greece. Subjects covered by the participating works include: the Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris; the adventures of a Dutch banker in Venezuela; an examination of Iran’s ancient city Bam following the devastation of a powerful earthquake late in 2003; and the story of a boxer-turned-Buddhist monk who dedicates himself to caring for underprivileged children in Thailand’s Golden Triangle region, formerly an opium-growing region and nowadays a popular tourist destination. Heddy Honigmann’s «Forever» focuses on the mystical beauty offered by the silence at Paris’s Pere Lachaise cemetery, where the bodies of legends such as Fryderyk Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Marcel Proust, Maria Callas, Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison were laid to rest. Harrie Timmerman’s «Stalin’s Children» travels to a psychiatric clinic in Surami, Georgia, the former Soviet Union state where time seems to have stood still. «Jungle Rudy» by Rob Smits follows the adventures of Rudolf Truffino, the son of a wealthy banker in The Hague, who shunned a predetermined future set by his family, abandoned his country, and moved to the jungle in Venezuela. Ina van Beek visits a home for the elderly in Amsterdam for her documentary. Kees van der Geest’s «Shit and Chicks» travels to a remote African savanna in northwestern Ghana, where a peace-loving farmer has adopted a traditional method to feed his children.