Future Frames 2017 Review: Greetings From Kropsdam

Provincial village life is often portrayed as an ideal, a picture of bucolic romanticism for which everyone should aspire to be part of. Yet the reality is often different. The façade of community and togetherness hides a hypocritical heart of distrust and cruelty. Joren Molter’s Greetings From Kropsdam exposes this hypocrisy with a darkly satirical scalpel.

Kropsdam. Where everyone knows your name. And everyone knows Lammert, a meek man perfectly happy to quietly raise pigeons. When GreenNow energy company turn up to try and convince the locals that wind turbines are the way to go, the community are unanimous in their dislike of the plans. But Lammert’s decision to have a slice of cake provided by GreenNow will prove to be a mistake. Now Kropsdam is ready to turn against him for daring to indulge his sweet tooth with the enemy.

Molter’s film is typified by an almost absurdist escalation of ill-feeling. From the moment that Lammert eats his cake, the Kropsdam inhabitants begin to turn against him. A rude comment here, a snarky remark there. These moments carry a certain amount of dark humour, mainly because the reasoning behind them seems so petty and ridiculous. As the bullying becomes more overt and the incidents more nasty, the humour turns bitter– again because everything seems so petty and ridiculous.

Greetings From Kropsdam has echoes of the likes of Roy Andersson with a hyper-realistic aesthetic. The cinematography from Tijn Sikken gives Kropsdam an air of the theatrical reflecting the fakery underlying the attitudes of its inhabitants. Utilising long takes, the camera is also constantly placed far away from the scene, distancing the audience from the action. Not only does this heighten the air of theatricality but it also creates a certain detachment. This detachment takes on something of a confrontational air – especially with the final shot of the film – with the audience being complicit in the persecution of Lammert becoming a possibility.

As much as the film is a swipe at ‘NIMBY’ mentality it’s also a frightening example of how individuals can be subsumed into collective action that transgress the boundaries of individual morality. Any humour in the film works in sharp relief to the film’s damning indictment on human behaviour.

Ruud Poiesz does a fine job in the lead role, veering from bemused acceptance to frustrated anger as the villagers turn against him while the rest of the cast work brilliantly as they form a ‘hive mind’ determined to filter undesirables out of their ranks.

Originating at the Netherlands Film Academy, Greetings From Kropsdam has already had a healthy festival run screening at the likes of Warsaw and Clermont-Ferrand (the film is repped by Netherlands based Some Shorts) and the upcoming screening at EFP’s Future Frames in Karlovy Vary should see more fans come it’s way. Molter is definitely a director to watch and his next projects will be awaited with anticipation.

You can read an interview with director Joren Molter HERE

Film Information
Original Title: In Kropsdam Is Iedereen Gelukkig
English Title: Greetings From Kropsdam
Director: Joren Molter
Country: The Netherlands
Year: 2016
Run Time: 23 mins
Contact: Some Shorts, info@someshorts.com

28 June 2017, by Laurence Boyce