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ROME FILM FESTIVAL Alice in the City / NL

Winter in Wartime: Entertainment with high emotional impact

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Winter in Wartime: Entertainment with high emotional impact

After having seen competition title The Man Who Will Come [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Giorgio Diritti
film profile
]
, it would be too easy to write off Martin Koolhoven’s Winter in Wartime [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
(at Rome in Alice in the City and the Dutch Oscar submission) as a minor film. However, even though here as in Giorgio Diritti’s film, the war (Holland in January 1945, occupied by the Germans and besieged by cold and hunger) is filtered through the eyes of a young, innocent boy, in all other counts the two films could not be more different.

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In loosely adapting Jan Terlouw’s famous Dutch children’s book (with co-scriptwriters Paul Jan Nelissen and Mieke de Jong), Koolhoven in fact uses less the models of anti-war films and more his own passion for genre cinema, especially Italian cinema.

Thirteen-year-old Michiel (newcomer Martijn Lakemeier, Best Actor at the Nederlands Film Festival and the Rembrandt Awards) is a proud enemy of the Nazis and aspiring Resistance fighter despite his unionist father’s great caution, and in the woods near the city of Zwolle helps British pilot Jack (Jamie Campbell Bower, soon among the Volturi of New Moon).

Through this story, the director offers a war movie that both entertains and offers high emotional impact, intensified by Pino Donaggio’s score. The latter comes among chases (even on horseback, and it is no coincidence that one of Koolhoven’s upcoming projects could be a western) and snowy landscapes (thanks to beautiful photography by Guido van Gennep).

The former comes in the director’s interest in the psychology of Michiel, forced to learn quickly that nothing in life is what it seems. And that recognizing the cowardly from the brave, the traitors from those who sacrifice, is not easy. Especially in times of war, when growing up also means losing one’s innocence.

Produced by Isabella Films and Fu Works (for €4m, which onscreen comes across as twice that amount), Winter in Wartime – released for now only in Holland and Belgium – is being handled internationally by High Point Media Group, which has already sold it to Ireland and England (Kaleidoscope), France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.

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(Translated from Italian)

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