Day of Reckoning


Gideon van Eeden - 14'13"

 (Netherlands)


Synopsis

Gideon van Eeden is a South African former television actor and theatre creator who attained success in South Africa and performed in various European countries. After emigrating to the Netherlands he has worked as a festival programmer and as filmmaker for corporate clients, NGO's and wildlife documentary. He is currently studying as a writer-director in the Raindance MA programme and is well on his way to complete his studies with distinction.



Trailer



Film

Director not to present this film for Public, the Jury can award the film through private screening.


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Gideon van Eeden


Gideon van Eeden is a South African former television actor and theatre creator who attained success in South Africa and performed in various European countries. After emigrating to the Netherlands he has worked as a festival programmer and as filmmaker for corporate clients, NGO's and wildlife documentary. He is currently studying as a writer-director in the Raindance MA programme and is well on his way to complete his studies with distinction.


Day of Reckoning, or Bijltjesdag in Dutch, is a supernatural rites of passage drama with a redemption plot. Its about Hans, a WWII veteran of the Dutch Home Brigade. At his eightieth birthday party (around 2010) he is confronted by a ghost from the past, Anton, a 14 year old fascist boy whom Hans killed during the infamous Day of Reckoning (Bijltjesdag) when the Dutch citizenry and armed militias took revenge on collaborators. What exactly happened on this day is unclear to Hans. He can't remember if it was self defence or a revenge murder, but the guilt of this day has haunted him his whole life. Now in his twilight, he is confronted with the memory in the form of an apparition. 
Hans deeply desires this, even though he is afraid. Tired of his worn out existence, he is desperate for this crucial knowledge of self. Sensing his own end, he must make peace with himself and this defining deed from his past. This is also the main theme: if you can not reconcile with the deeds of your past, you will never find peace. The uncomfortable reality of a dysfunctional father-daughter relationship is a secondary theme. Suus, Hans’ daughter is desperate for recognition which Hans has never been capable of showing her, being constantly pre-occupied with his past. Another secondary theme is the perception of death by humankind - the story briefly explores the philosophical understanding that our notions of guilt and reckoning are irrelevant in the realm of the dead. 
These themes course with relevance in a contemporary European society where the elderly is becoming an increasingly dominant percentage of society.

The visual look of the film can be described as a dance between light and shadow, symbolising barriers between ignorance and knowledge, guilt and acceptance, imprisonment and freedom, life and death. The shafts of light and shadow are used to frame Hans in such a way that he is caged or stuck within a certain composition. 
Light and shadow are used to give Anton an uncanny and sometimes frightening angelic presence through strong and atmospheric backlighting. 
The personal nature of death is reflected in the cinematography with intimate close-ups. As the film progresses, more room is given to Hans in the compositions, ultimately liberating him from life. 
The visual style is supported by symbolic objects and props. Our hero is often framed with a clock in view signifying the brevity of his remaining life. 
The editing is utilised to create alterations in tempo and rhythm. Suspense is built around Hans’ searching of the dark passages with long anxious shots edited with sudden unexpected interruptions. The music is subtle and atmospheric, sometimes feeling as only a vague echo from the past. Sound in post production takes the shape of uncanny whispers in the mind, and subconscious reminders of terrible violence from the past adding to the general sense of the supernatural. The film concludes with reconciliation - Hans finds the peace and acceptance he so hopelessly desired.


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