Antonia’s Line, a woman’s family chronicle

Marleen Gorris  
Oscar 1996, Best Foreign Movie

The film begins when Antonia is in her eighties. The narrator tells us that a peaceful and satisfied woman is at the end of her life. Her thoughts go back to a time before the Second World War, when she returns to her native village with her daughter Danielle to visit her mother, Allegonda, who is lying restlessly on her death bed, complaining about her dead husband, and waiting for her last breath. Antonia decides to stay in the place where she was born. She works really hard and revives the farm. It becomes a haven for to her family and many other unusual characters, among them a converted priest, a backward girl who has been raped, a fascinating philosopher and others, who cannot survive in the village or in the bourgeois world and stereotypical norms and ideas. Antonia’s farm is a little part of the world where people who are otherwise marginalised can find happiness, love, contentment, lively sex and the fulfillment of their vocational and spiritual aspirations. The seasons change and the farm grows; Antonia becomes a grandmother, since her daughter Danielle has a daughter, Therese, and later on falls happily in love with her teacher, Lara. Therese gives birth to Antonia’s great-granddaughter, Sarah. The extraordinary female characters are placed next to male characters as their lovers, helpers or fathers of their children. This is a film about women’s independence, ‘said Marleen Gorris, ‘because the women in it are really themselves, and not defined by the roles of wife, mother or daughter. Of course, the whole thing is just a fairytale.’ There is no doubt that she has succeeded in creating a witty and well-honed film, and there are few like it to be found in the cinema of the ‘90s.

The film Antonia’s Line, by Dutch director Marleen Gorris, which will be premiered in Slovenia during the City of Women, is definitely a contribution to the cinema of the ‘90s deserving of a special presentation. The story, based on the director’s outstanding screenplay, inverts traditional, patrilineal family chronicles. The director/writer introduces just a slight twist, which dramatically alters the flow of the narrative: it follows a family matrilineally. At the same time, ‘Antonia’s Line’ belongs among those rare and precious films in which women are really themselves and not merely images of stereotypical ideas about them. The author subtly mixes different periods and narrative perspectives; Dr. Neva Šlibar will be discussing this aspect of the film. By winning an Oscar for best foreign film, this funny and witty film, which embodies the director’s feminist principles and beliefs, found itself in the context of Hollywood. Marcel Štefančič Jr. will tell us more about that.
It will be a great honour to welcome the Belgian actress, Els Dottermans, who will also take part in the discussion. She has given some outstanding performances in the theatre and on film, including that of Antonia’s daughter, Danielle.

Cast: Willeke van Ammelrooy, Els Dottermans, Dora Van Der Groen, Jan Decleir, Mil Seghers, Marina de Graaf, Jan Steen, Veerle Van Overloope; Production: Bergen Prime Time Bard Entertainment & NPS Televisie

In collaboration with: Cankarjev dom


Date and time of event: 
Oct 20th 20:30
Place of event: 
Cankarjev dom, Linhartova dvorana