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.