During the day, I am a Liberal Arts & Sciences student, attending classes, making homework, drinking hot chocolate with my best friend and writing for my blog. But at night, I become something else. As boyfriend and I travel towards Vlissingen, either cycling (I am still recovering) or by public transport, I change into my role of film critic, for the International Student Jury. On the third day of Film By The Sea 2015, I fell in love with and absolutely hated a film.

// Viaje (2015)

viaje still

I completely fell in love with “Viaje”, a Costa Rican film about love. It is as simple as that, but the visual images that are created to accompany this very simple thought, are absolutely beautiful. Completely shot in black and white, “Viaje” gives its audience an honest and intimate glimpse of two people falling in love. From the moment Luciana and Pedro meet at a costume party (he is wearing a glorious bear onesie, with tail and ears), there is a spark between them. A spark that will take them on a camping trip in the woods, where they run through the wild and exotic landscapes and discover each other in the purest and truthful way. Up until now, “Viaje” is my personal favorite of the films selected for the International Student Jury Award!

// Sivas (2015)


As much as I liked “Viaje”, as much as I disliked “Sivas”. Actually, “disliked” is not the right word – watching “Sivas” made me sick to my stomach. The film follows a little boy, Aslan, who tries to train a fighting dog to impress a girl at school. Dog fights are the main source of amusement in his village and people come from miles away to watch the animals slaughter each other. For someone who has been brought up with dogs in the family (actually, there has not been a single day in my life where I did not have a dog), “Sivas” was absolutely horrifying to watch. To see how the two animals attacked each other, collided like two stones thrown together with an unearthly strength, how they bit each other until their furs where painted red, was sickening.

Perhaps this was the whole point of “Sivas”, to point out that these cruelties happen on a daily basis and that we are doing nothing to stop it. Perhaps the film makers are shoving the horrifying images down our throats with the intention of creating awareness. Perhaps that is true. But I do not think this is the way to do that. We know that these dog fights (or any animal fights for that matter) happen and that entire villages worship these events; I do not see the point in making a film depicting these cruelties, when the very people who should stop traumatizing these dogs are never going to go the cinema to see “Sivas” and realizing that it is not OK what they are doing. We, students, watch this film and shiver by seeing the images, but we cannot do anything to help these animals.

Curious to see what other films I am reviewing this week? Every day you can find a new post on Almost Famous Writer with a report of the day!