The Flat Jungle
About IDFA
The Flat Jungle
IDFA 2014

The Flat Jungle

De platte jungle
Johan van der Keuken
90 min
Festival history
On the mudflats of the Dutch Wadden Sea, life above and below the waterline – plaice larvae, worms, anglers and worm-hunters – together forms a single landscape. But “the mudflats are not as beautiful as they used to be,” one resident of the Wadden Islands contends. New technologies mean the sea is being overfished, the ground churned up and nature disrupted. In 1978, Johan van der Keuken documented how emerging industries were rapidly transforming this “flat jungle” of the Netherlands. As the water sloshes against waders, eel smokers discuss their uncertain future to the sound of free jazz compositions by Willem Breuker. We hear the ambitions of eager farmers, who want to make their businesses “as intensive and as profitable as possible.” “We want just a little bit more than the next person,” a farmer’s wife openly admits. “I only think about more. How to produce more.” So artificial fertilizer is brought in and the cows made more productive, in spite of a milk surplus. The landscape changes, plants and birds disappear, the ditches clog up, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Van Der Keuken makes no secret of which side he is on. This depiction of a process that took place decades ago still seems as relevant as ever in 2014.
Screening copy
    Eye Film Institute Netherlands
    Eye Film Institute Netherlands