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Water Children

  • Aliona van der Horst
  • Netherlands, The
  • 2011
  • 75 min
filmcollectie_01 Film


In Japan, dead babies are commemorated in a mythological ritual and known as water children. Because they never had an opportunity to carry out good deeds, they are unable to cross the underworld river and are trapped in stone figurines on a riverbank.

Filmmaker Aliona van der Horst followed the unconventional Japanese-Dutch pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama. There came a moment in the pianist's life when she recognized that an end will come to her capacity to have children. Mukaiyama created a multimedia art project on the subject in a village in Japan. She made what she calls a cathedral, constructed out of 12,000 white silk dresses. She invites women to take a dress, wear it, stain it with menstrual blood (or, as she so poetically puts it, "moon blood") and hang it back up. Female visitors to this fabric cathedral meet here to talk about issues surrounding fertility and infertility.

Van der Horst tells the story from her own perspective. We also hear from other women who talk about their experiences with miscarriages, children, or thoughts about fertility and sexuality. Ultimately, it turns out that the filmmaker herself had a powerful personal reason for making this dreamlike, poetic film.

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  • 75 min
  • color
  • video
Aliona van der Horst
Frank van den Engel for Zeppers Film & TV
Executive producer
Jorinde Sorée for Zeppers Film & TV
Aliona van der Horst, Maasja Ooms
Rik Meier, Leo Erken
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