Narcosis, The Netherlands’ entry for the Best International Feature Oscar, mixes a cocktail of themes perhaps for the first time ever: clairvoyance, deep sea diving and grief.
Directed by Martijn de Jong and co-written with his life partner Laura van Dijk, Narcosis is about a young family that is hit by a tragedy and deals with it in a unique way. It won the Audience Award at the Thessaloniki Film Festival as well as Best Film at the Nederlands Film Festival.
De Jong calls Narcosis “kind of a mirror” to his own family, “but not at all biographical.” During Deadline’s Contenders Film: International awards-season event, he told us he and van Dijk “treasure hunted” stories that were part of their lives.
“One of them is the clairvoyance which is something that my mother does. She has this ability in real life. I’m quite ambivalent to this,” he said, but van Dijk “was very intrigued.”
As for the diving, de Jong explained that fewer people have been to the bottom of Bushman’s Hole than to the moon, “so it intrigued us why do professional divers want to go in there and do this and risk their lives and leave their people behind?” The film is also a study of the stages of grief.
De Jong continued, “When you have these three combined, suddenly they start elevating each other.”
Thekla Reuten plays Merel, the mother and widow in the story, who has the gift of clairvoyance but suddenly stops her practice. “The film revolves around this that there’s a grief process without having an actual body, but she has the ability to actually close her eyes and if she sees him, she knows for sure she’ll never see him again. That’s where her gift suddenly becomes very powerful in the story.”
Noted Reuten, “It’s a curse kind of.” She explained, “I really want to discuss how we were going to portray that aspect of it because for me it’s really important that it is done respectful and it’s also really interesting because it’s something that happens on the inside, like many things in this film are really internal processes and I find it incredible how Laura and Martin found ways to communicate things that are such internal processes.”
Check out the panel video above.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.