Many people came to our basement at the Nieuwegracht in order to see a preview of the working copy of Jan van den Berg’s new film Silent Snow. Not without reason, as it turned out to be an impressive evening. After Jan gave a brief introductory speech, we breathlessly watched a film that was both socially and environmentally critical and committed, while being esthetically dazzlingly beautiful and admirable. We watched a quest for the sources of the pollution that shows up in the end of the food chain, in the traditional food of the Inuit (like exquisite raw pink pieces of polar bear and narwhale meat: mmmm!), causing all kinds of scary things to happen to the inhabitants of this frozen region. Beautiful images of sledge rides, with sledge dogs that would literally seemed to run right into the basement, were succeeded by images of depressing industrial complexes in India that dump their polluting wastewater in former marvelous tropical rivers and DDT spraying do-gooders in Africa who think they are banning malaria from their countries. Another counterpoint were the wise words of a Bri Bri Indigenous from Costa Rica, sang with a touching husky voice, which were a memento mori for our decadent Western biased and satiated ears that don’t really want to hear his message. Silent Snow is a film that you won’t easily forget (I now often imagine seeing gasping sledge dogs in the basement) and that deserves it entirely to get many prizes as a Dutch Al Gore film (though much better and more balanced!). The lively discussion afterwards hopefully convinced Jan that there was a lot of appreciation and admiration for his film.

By Koert van der Horst. Translated by DRS Film.

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