The selection for the 2021 IDFA Award for Best Dutch Film reflects a diverse Dutch society nowadays: international productions and filmmakers with various backgrounds with a need to share their stories. Common threads in the films we found were trauma, distorted family connections, loss, and struggle for identity. A quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson accompanied our discussions: “There is probably no history, only biography.”
We saw acclaimed filmmakers and newcomers we liked, as well as a 50-50 gender balance.
The jury did notice some bold personal choices in form and storytelling; additionally, we would like to mention that we struggled in some films with the overuse of music. And other films could have benefited by being a bit shorter. It was a pleasure watching this strong selection in the great cinemas of Amsterdam.
The jury is charmed by this remarkable main character. Already the opening scene starts with magical images of travel in her living room and takes us on a journey to her past and present. The mother of the filmmaker, the main character—who is no longer with us—even helped to direct the film. A dark chapter of history that is being carefully treated with love and humour. The title of the film is genius! The Special Mention goes to Housewitz by Oeke Hoogendijk.
And now for the winner of the 2021 IDFA Award for Best Dutch Film. The jury was deeply moved by this film, its main character, and his friends. The film gives us—the viewer—an honest but devastating insight into a violated childhood and a young man who bravely gave permission to film his process in trauma therapy and his vulnerable transition. The protagonist has a mission to change the system he was a victim of, which emphasizes his unbelievable strength and courage to share his story publicly.
The jury admires the director who has invested so much time and efforts in the subject. She comes so close to the protagonist and yet she keeps a safe space for him. We, as observers, never felt voyeuristic. This is a tough and dark watch, but at the same time, also hopeful. We have one person to thank for his trust: Jason! The IDFA Award for Best Dutch Film goes to Jason by Maasja Ooms.