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UNDER THE SKIN by Emma Branderhorst

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Dutch short Under the Skin has been selected for Generation Kplus. 

Emma Branderhorst’s Under the Skin is her graduation film from University of the Arts in Utrecht, and tells the story of Keesje, a 15-year old introvert. She and her friends, Lize and Dunja, swim together in a synchronized swimming team. From the outside it all looks like the perfect friendship, but beneath the surface hide continuous tensions between the girls…

“I am fascinated by youth problems,” comments Branderhorst. “When I was younger in high school I was in a group of ten girls and there was always a lot of tension between us. We were friends but everyone was pushing each other down, there was a lot of competition. I always thought I was being bullied, I always thought these are my friends. What is this? Is it normal? Where does it come from?”

Branderhorst later revisited her friends to interview them about that period in their lives. “All the girls agreed that was a very tough time for them, instead of looking back with nice memories I thought I was the only one… We were all having a laugh but on the other side we were really sad and we couldn’t be ourselves in the group. It’s called girl venom.”

The director believes that synchronised swimming is the perfect metaphor to express this notion of girl venom. “The thing is, above the water it is beautiful but when you look under the surface you see all the ugly mistakes they make.”

Branderhorst has recently been awarded a €50,000 Wild Card grant from the Netherlands Film Fund that she can use to make a film about anything she chooses. She will therefore partner up with Family Affair Films to make another youth-oriented short, this time about “teenage lying, creating a different version of reality and seeing how far they can go with it.”

SEE NL Magazine #38 January 2020 / IFFR, Berlin & Clermont-Ferrand Issue

SEE NL is published four times per year by Eye andd The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.

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