Writer-and-director San Cortooms’ Not All That Is It received New York Festivals TV & Film Awards 2021. Kortooms produced the film with Chiel Christiaans (Format Family) on behalf of Nationaal Monument Kamp. The permanent exhibition of the renovated museum. Among the hundreds of entries, a professional jury nominated the film along with other productions from Great Britain, Hong Kong, Russia and the United States.
Jeroen van den Eijnde, Director of National Monument Camp Vught: “This international honor is a huge boost to our museum and filmmaker. This award underscores that in our new presentation we are also making a connection with the current significance of this place’s history in a high-quality way.”
The interactive film is shown in the ‘Reflection Room’ where, after viewing the permanent exhibition and authentic camp site, the visitor is challenged to think about their role in society, based on the motto ‘Celebrate is Think’. Consciousness of choice, responsibility, and bias play a major role in this, and that is exactly what “Not everything is as it seems” is about.
The victim, the perpetrator, or the bystander?
It’s three situations that seem light and lively: in the gym, on the street, and in the parking garage. However, there is only one thing that has to be misinterpreted and it all ignites. Sophie van Wenden, Nizar Almanuzzi and Judah Goslinga spin scene after scene as victim, perpetrator, and bystander (who may or may not choose to intervene). Actors always have to evaluate the situation and make decisions, and this also applies to the viewer. But how easy is it to make a decision if you don’t know the situation, do you just rely on pictures?
“The title, ‘Not Everything Is What It Seems,’ actually describes it very well,” Kurtoms says. “In most cases you don’t know how something really works. It’s easy to make a quick assumption, but it’s hard to tell if it’s true and it takes so long. Shame, because as a result, things that only act on wrong first impressions can easily spiral out of control.” In the movie we try to manipulate that by showing what preceded it after each scene. Because this can sometimes put everything in a different light.”
For actor Nizar Al-Manuzi, the situations depicted in the film are highly recognizable. On the street, but also at work, the actor and presenter (for “Het Klokhuis”) often has to deal with prejudices and misinterpretations. Often people start the conversation based on a certain assumption. But you never know the consequences of these assumptions.” Nizar’s favorite scene is the one on a narrow street where a car blocks traffic. “I felt how only a century could make someone completely crazy. Sometimes, you just need one drop to get past the bucket.”
Sophie van Wenden remembers the recordings well, too: “It was exciting to play the scene in the gym. I had to make a very discerning remark, spurred by my character problems. This far from me made me understand more why she said that, but I didn’t find it an excuse myself. “. In short, Van Wenden agrees. “These are very sensitive topics to work with. You have the feeling that you are balancing on a thin rope and always wondering if things are ‘possible’. Sometimes it’s very abrasive and that’s exactly the purpose of the movie. That the viewer puts themselves in this situation and thinks how do I do that. Do I dare say something if someone is called by the names in front of me?”
Bias at all times
Reflecting on Yourself, Present and Future, and with this in mind, the Reflection Space (where film images and short documentaries can be viewed as well as “Not everything is as it seems”) was developed by the Memory Center. “I think it’s a very nice initiative by National Monument Kamp Vught to bring current events into the museum in this way,” says Van Winden. “It’s great to engage people in this way and let them think that prejudices exist at all times and we should always have an open mind.”
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