Water Children

Already in the first minutes of Water Children, director Aliona van der Horst challenges the relationship with the viewer. This is not just a portrait of pianist and performance artist Tomoko Mukaiyama during the making of her multimedia installation “Wasted”, for which she exhibited, among other things, 12,000 white silk dresses colored with menstrual blood in a cathedral-like structure in her native village of Tokamachi in Japan. The film also explores the relationship between subject and maker. And therefore inevitably also that between film and spectator. Van der Horst is a documentary maker from the observational school. But this may very well be her most personal film. Not in the sense that it is about the creator herself, but in the way it invites a generous view of the other. If then at a certain moment Mukaiyama decides to turn the lens, and interview her, she films her own hands, which almost feels like an infringement on her fragile private domain. An intimate image that leaves you breathless. With equal restraint, she records the testimonies of the women who participated in the project and donated their menstrual blood for what became a grand epic about motherhood, miscarriages and menopause. Through that searching and confident way of discovering and looking, she penetrates into what is probably still one of the greatest taboos, menstruation, and thus also into Van der Horst's movingly sincere own thoughts about what femininity and being a woman actually mean. “Nobody talks about that blood between your legs. It's not the same blood we always see on TV. It's not aggressive, it's a different kind of blood,” says Tomoko Mukaiyama. The all-pervading nature and Bach's music make watching this film a ritual event, almost like a kind of mourning. The title refers to a Japanese ritual to commemorate unborn – and therefore invisible – children. (Dana Linssen)

Director's Filmography (Selection)
Gerlach (2023, doc; CE24) - Turn Your Body to the Sun (2021, doc; CE24) - Liefde is Aardappelen (Love Is Potatoes, 2017, doc; CE18 & 24) - 15 Attempts (2013, doc) - Don’t Shoot The Messenger (2013, doc) - Water Children (2011, doc; CE24) - Boris Ryzhy (2008, doc; CE10 & 24) - Voices Of Bam (2006, doc, co-directed with Maasja Ooms; CE24) - A Passion For The Hermitage (doc series, 2006) - Na de lente van ’68 (After The Spring Of ’68, 2001, mid-length doc) - De dame met het witte hoedje (The Lady with the White Hat, 1997, mid-length doc)
Tribute 2024
Aliona van der Horst
Netherlands 2011
75 minutes
Japanese / English / Dutch
OV with English subtitles

Screenings / Tickets

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Cinematography Aliona van der Horst, Maasja Ooms
Editing Aliona van der Horst, Maasja Ooms
Sound/Sounddesign Rik Meier, Leo Erken, Fokke van Saane, Tom Bijnen
Music Tomoko Mukaiyama
Producer(s) Frank van den Engel
Zeppers Film & TV, VPRO
Austrian Premiere