The Afsluitdijk, stretching over 20 miles long, is a major causeway in the Netherlands. It took five years to build and connects Den Oever in North Holland province to the village of Zurich in Friesland province. It was while driving over the Afsluitdijk one day that filmmaker Ewoudt Boonstra got the idea for his most recent short.
“I was listening to the radio that day and the news anchor was mentioning Trump’s use of ‘fake news’,” he recalls. “That’s when I realised that I could make a fake or fictional story about the Afsluitdijk and change all the facts.” The result is an eponymous short film which positions itself as a factual documentary, telling the story of how the Asluitdijk came to be, with more than a few “half-truths” thrown in there.
The voiceover of the film plays a predominant role in translating, not only the narrative of the piece, but the tone. It’s this tone which begins out sincere, before more and more outlandish claims are made, making you question the validity of the statements. “I tend to spend a lot of time on writing a script,” Ewoudt tells us of his process. This coupled with Alex Paton’s somewhat sarcastic voice-over creates a feeling of unease in Afsluitdijk, unsure whether or not you should believe anything Alex tells you. “His voice has a nice mix between the factual and the fantastical,” Ewoudt adds. “He kind of sounds decisive and in awe at the same time.”
As for the story, which claims that the causeway’s structure was entirely based off of its creator’s love of tennis, “I’d say about 95 per cent is fiction,” Ewoudt admits, “except for the geological names and the names of Cornelis Lely and Willem Dudok.” Oh, and by complete coincidence, the width of the causeway’s road marking actually are the same width as the baseline of a tennis court – you’ll have to watch the full film above to make sense of that one.
Aesthetically, Afsluitdijk is considered and precise, mirroring the symmetry of the actual causeway in a Wes Anderson-esque fashion. Working with DOP Wouter Verbekt, Ewoudt embraced the Afsluitdjk’s straight lines and right angles, mirroring this in their own camera angles. “We wanted to go for a timeless and very clean look. No clutter, almost with a comic book simplicity,” he outlines. Finished with titles designed by Anthony Burill and Paul Plowman, Afsluitdijk is a film that juxtaposes fanciful, outlandish claims with a meticulous design in an altogether satisfying manner.
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