Once upon a time there was a wonderful plan to make a documentary with lots of people and lots of music. And then everything was locked down. This is plan two, formed in times of pandemic, in which I went looking for night thoughts, dreams and fears together with the isolated students of Maastricht. What happens to our nights now that we are completely on our own?
A FILM IN ISOLATION
When it became known that due to the pandemic all educational institutions in the Netherlands had to close their doors, I sent an open letter to the students of Maastricht with an idea for a film about night thoughts during isolation. There were a lot of replies and I met seven young students with different backgrounds than me, who all somehow ended up in Maastricht. Together we started to write about our nights and discussed the conditions in the world via (video) calling; personal circumstances, but also general philosophies on life and the world we live in. These are the stories of Paula, Elda, Maya, Joia, Ena, Daphne and myself.
Nightingales, or Nachtegalen in Dutch, is an English-language short film with Dutch subtitles. It takes about eighteen minutes in total, in which twelve music-led chapters take you through the nights of lockdown students. There are diary fragments and poems, voiced by actors. The music, which, like the story, originates from various human songbirds, was composed and sung by me. The twelve worlds of clay and fabric through which the tales are told, were made in collaboration with my brother.
To me, dreams and nightmares are a primary source of storytelling, one that we all carry with us in a way. We are shocked by ourselves, or we are amazed by our own imagination and fears. And it fascinates me, dreams and nightmares, everything you see when there is almost no light left and everything you hear when it is almost silent. The night is both my kingdom and homeland, and my greatest fear. By bringing all of these stories together in these crazy times, I hope to bring some brightness and hope – a night light for the darkness we must all get though.
Nightingales was made in April 2020 in collaboration with Quirine Racké and Helena Muskens, voiced by: Claire Vrijenhoek, Anne van der Vegt, Marthe Thys, Andrea Vass, Marieke Ornelis and myself, after the diaries of Daphne van Woenzel, Jóia Boode, Maya Jagger, Paula Seidensticker, Ena Lalic, Elda Zavalani and myself.