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IDFA Women Directors: Meet Katelijne Schrama – ‘Georgica’

IDFA Women Directors: Meet Katelijne Schrama - 'Georgica'

Katelijne Schrama studied fine arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, where she produced a short film, Daydreams and Sandman, for her end exam. Since then, she has worked as a freelance filmmaker. 360º Horizon, Land Without a Past, her first film, was nominated for Best Debut Film at the 2007 Dutch Film Festival. 1974 is her second short film. (Press materials)

Georgica, her first feature-length documentary, will play at IDFA on Nov. 21, 23, and 25-27.

W&H: Please give us your description of the film playing.

KS: We float above the plains of the Flevopolder, the last reclamation project of the Dutch government. We see how various farmers carry out their occupations in that ordered landscape. Over two thousand years ago, the Roman poet Virgil wrote an ode to farming and to life in the countryside: Georgica [The Georgics in English]. What do the farmers think of the texts by Virgil? Some things have remained the same: the seasons, the ground has to be ploughed, the weather, the sounds of the birds. However, when the farmers hear the old texts, they spontaneously conjure up stories on what has changed, about the influence of the food industry, and about contemporary regulations.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

KS: I grew up on a farm. But that was not the main reason I wanted to make this film. There are less and less farmers in the Western world. It is a big problem if the people that make the decisions about what to grow don’t live on the same soil any more. We have enough examples in history where it went very wrong. Unfortunately, we are heading this way again.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

KS: Finally making my first feature. It was difficult to get there. When I got started, things went all right.

W&H: What do you want people to think about when they are leaving the theater?

KS: To think a little deeper about farming, because people can’t live without it.

W&H: What advice do you have for other female directors?

KS: Don’t listen to “good” to advice. Just go your own way.

W&H: What’s the biggest misconception about you and your work?

KS: That you have to think deeply about it. People who take my film as it is have by far the best expereince.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? 

KS: Mediafond and the Buddhistic Broadcast Foundation (BOS). But these two places will disappear soon because of cutbacks by the Dutch government.

W&H: Name your favorite woman-directed film and why.

KS: Jennifer Baichwal’s Act of God. Phie Ambo’s Free the MindThere are many different women who make wonderful films. They allow me to think about the subject as a viewer. I have to admit there are men who can make such films too. But contemplative films are not so popular among TV commissioners nowadays, so it is hard to get them through with financing.

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