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Dutch shorts at Go Short 2020

23 April 2020

The Nijmegen-based Go Short film festival has, like most other Spring events, gone online in 2020, running 15 April to 13 May. Films from the Netherlands feature strongly across all sections, including European and Dutch competitions. 

Go Short director Kirsten Ruber 

"Go Short is something that we are really proud of. We have advocated for nothing other than short films over these past 12 years, which makes us unique in The Netherlands, and gives us a strong position as an international stepping stone for filmmakers," stresses Go Short director Kirsten Ruber.

In normal years would attract upwards of 20,000 visitors and a professional audience of over 500, two hundred of whom are international. It is an Academy Award, BAFTA and EFA-qualifying event and is also collaborating in the My Darling Quarantine online short film initiative, launched to ease the burden during the corona crisis.

"The short format has become very popular and has a particular importance that people (both public and industry) have come to recognise," Ruber further underlines.

Dutch Shorts in European Competition

Screening in European Competition is Eliane Esther Bots' Cloud Forest, described as a fairy-tale in which five Dutch girls take the viewer on an imaginative journey through the memories of their parents' experience as war was raging in the former Yugoslavia.

The film was born out of a series of conversations with Elma Čavčić, a former student of Bots at the University of the Arts in Utrecht. After the director made a presentation of her previous films, Elma approached her to share some anecdotes about her family history. These kick-started a series of conversations which developed into the concept of Cloud Forest.

"This film is a continuation of themes which have my long-term interest," says Bots. "Five years ago, I made the film Conversations about my grandmother. I questioned why she archived all her belongings by describing them in a large book and by putting stickers with descriptions on some of the smaller items. It was through making this film that I learned how much these simple objects were bearers of larger stories, shaped by particular experiences in her life, by the Second World War and her Jewish background. I also realized that these stories and my grandmother's silence influenced my mother and even me, two generations later."

"In many of my works, just like in Cloud Forest, I focus specifically on the way family functions as an independent narrative generator, changing and distorting narratives over time and through different generations," Bots continues. "I investigate how (life-changing) experiences and conflict influence the construction of our narratives. And the way we establish intimate connections to that what is (no longer) present in our lives by oral storytelling or making use of existing narrative structures like poems, prayers, songs, diary entries, scrabbled notes, letters and dreams."

Also in European Competition are Stefanie Kolk's Eyes on the Road, produced by New Amsterdam Film Company, which world-premiered at Locarno 2020, and the minority co-productions Apiyemiyekî? (Dutch co-prod: De Productie) and That Which Is to Come Is Just a Promise (Dutch co-prod: seriousFilm). Apiyemiyekî? premiered at IFFR (Short Film Competition) and screened at the Berlinale (Forum Expanded), for more info please read SeeNL article: BERLINALE 2020: For Co-Pro, See Holland.

Three Dutch shorts world-premiere in Dutch Competition
The numerous films in Dutch competition include world-premieres of Doma Kak Doma by Eefje Suijkerbuijk, Seahorse (Natalie Bruijns) and Short Trip by Cassandra Offenberg. Seahorse and Short Trip are both produced by Witfilm.

In Short Trip a group of young friends feel immortal, despite losing one of their own, and go on a journey to experience everything life has to offer. Producer Lieke van den Ouwelant discusses director Offenberg's talent.

"Cassandra is a filmmaker who works on the boundary between fiction and documentary. Her first film (The Fairytale of Youth, 2016) displayed a distinctive visual style, combining an inner voice with associative images in an extraordinarily free manner. By making Short Trip, she developed her signature style even further, by building an edgy but kind of poetic, sometimes even magical universe to tell the documentary story best."

Natalie Bruijns' Seahorse concerns a woman who, on the day of her abortion, meets women who deal with the procedure in their own way.

Producer Yasmin van Dorp comments of the film: "One in three women in the Netherlands has had an abortion, but many do not speak about it. Abortion is an acquired right - in the Netherlands every woman is the boss of her own belly - but at the same time it is still a taboo."

"Seahorse revolves around all the contradictions surrounding this emotional intervention. It is allowed by law, but instinctively it is a very difficult decision to make," Van Dorp continues. "The film does not judge, but takes the viewer behind the scenes of one of the few taboos that the Netherlands still knows. A subject that affects so many women - and sometimes their partners - need to be talked about more openly. The film therefore has a very important social message."

Eefje Suijkerbuijk's lyrical Doma Kak Doma offers up 10 tableaux vivants in which Ukrainians reflect on such topics as home and connection, history and loss, beauty and recuperation. The film, Suijkerbuijk underlines, has a particular contemporary resonance.

"The lockdown and this whole corona crisis give me the feeling of being trapped in a vacuum, an interim, that will definitely cause a lot of changes in our world, but we are not yet able to fully understand what these consequences will be," she says. "Coincidentally enough, all the people I portrayed in this film are also surrounded by emptiness in a visual way. They stand like firm rocks in their own environment. Some people desire for what it used to be like, others dream about the future. They all reflect from a certain stillness, which reminds me of the situation we are all in now: you cannot escape yourself and you are forced to think about what is important to you in life."

For more short films from the Netherlands at Go Short International Short Film Festival, visithttps://www.goshort.nl/

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