»Imagine if Death were to become a woman and living amongst us. She would be terrified and confused by Life. Her only intimacy would be the ultimate one – the one of assisting the dying. Her only fascination would be ##la petit mort, dying in a sexual act. Ultimately, she would be conquered by a Life that is crueller than her.«
Marian (Bien de Moor) is in her mid-forties and has already spun around herself a cocoon of fictitious family relationships and obligations, a construct that renders her life lonely. In fact, she only has contact with other people if they are seriously ill or dying. A nurse by profession, Marian is an efficient, perfectly functioning and self-sacrificing assistant in a hospital where death is omnipresent. For her patients, she gives her all. If she notices that a patient no longer wishes to live, she even provides her own euthanasia service.
But then on the bus one day, she encounters a new neighbour (Lars Eidinger) and her life takes a radical turn. She's mesmerised by him; she follows him; she watches him from her window. And when she witnesses a brutal rape outside her block of flats one evening, she sees that the neighbour is also standing at the window, also watching. Neither of them takes any action but this shared act of voyeurism leads to an unintended intimacy between them. As a result of this particular night, Marian's life begins to fall apart as she slowly but unrelentingly experiences an ardent longing in herself to »disappear« during sex. A thought that at once fascinates and scares her. So when she eventually commits an error in hospital, she makes a decision.
The Polish-born film director URSZULA ANTONIAK, now living and working in the Netherlands, is a graduate of both the Polish Film Academy and the Dutch Film Academy. After researching and writing for documentary series such as Mand and His Signs – History and Metaphors or Throwaway World – Intimate Story of Garbage, she began to write screenplays and direct feature films. Her short Bijlmer Odyssey started life as a production for Dutch TV but it also helped Ms Antoniak gain international success. Her follow-up work Nederlands voor Beginners (aka »Dutch for Non Advanced«) was also given an enthusiastic reception by audiences and critics alike. Her first feature-length debut Nothing Personal – starring Lotte Verbeek and Stephen Rea – picked up eight prizes at the Locarno Film Festival 2009, including Best Director Award.
Films by Urszula Antoniak
Nothing Personal 2009 | Neederlands Voor Beginners 2006 | Bijlmer Odyseey 2004
Friday, 20 April 2012, 5 p.m., Filmpalette, Ticket