Oeke Hoogendijk: The Treasures of Crimea

I have a lot of respect and admiration for the work of Oeke Hoogendijk. In 2020 we played “My Rembrandt” in Belgrade at the Magnificent7 Festival and five years earlier her “The New Rijksmuseum” opened the same festival. Hoogendijk has found her niche, documentaries on art and the art world, and she manages to make drama out of what happens behind the doors, where money talks.

This time the locations are primarily court rooms, where a very actual battle is being performed: In 2014 the Allard Pierson Museum hosted a beautiful exhibition “Treasures of Crimea” with artworks from the peninsula chosen by Valentina, who had walked from llocal museum to local museum to pick the best of the best for the Amsterdam museum… In 2014 Crimea was annexed by Russia, so to whom should the exhibition’s artworks be returned? The director of the museum chooses to take the issue to court – To Ukraine as Crimea belongs to that country or to the annexed Crimea, to the museums, that gave permission to the loan.

It is actually quite exciting to follow the lawyers representing both sides making their arguments – but it would have been dry and boring if the film had not included the true protagonists, the women from Crimea primarily, from the small museums that they have dedicated their life to. But also the lady from Kyiv, who wants the artworks be sent to the capital of Ukraine. They express motions, especially Valentina, who feels guilty that she convinced her colleagues to give the loan. But (my comment) how could she know what would happen to Crimea?

The court room sessions take time, years (with appeals after appeals) while the exhibition’s artworks stand in a storage waiting for a judicial decision to be made. At the time when the film was finished no final decision was taken – in October 2021 the Dutch court decided that the 300 pieces of art should be returned to Ukraine. 5 years after the exhibition…

Netherlands, 2021, 82 mins.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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