Filmmaker Digna Sinke has iron stamina. Or is it passion that drives her? In any case, it is commendable that she has put heart and soul into the Tiengemeten project over a period of more than ten years. When it was decided in 1993 that the small island in Haringvliet, South Holland, would become a nature development area, Digna had the idea to follow the process. That this ultimately resulted in five films – ‘Tiengemeten, a provisional report’ (a short documentary from 1998), ‘Tiengemeten part 1’ (2001), ‘Tiengemeten 2001 – 2006’, ‘Nieuw Tiengemeten’ (2010) and now so ‘ Weemoed & Wildernis’ (2010) – she could never have imagined at the start of the project.
In “Weemoed & Wildernis” all events on the island from the period 1996-2010 are summarized, with new images and voice-over from the filmmaker. The sometimes beautiful images of landscapes and detailed shots have a meditative effect, which is why this documentary will not appeal to everyone. Digna brings back memories of the past, her parents, her sister. The landscape of Tiengemeten is very similar to the environment where the filmmaker was born, in the village of Zonnemaire, on Schouwen-Duiveland. You always see the horizon. “On Tiengemeten, all roads come to a dead end. They stop at the dike, behind the dike begins the wilderness and behind it the water, ”she says. It is clear where the attraction of the project lies: wanting to record and thus retain the changing environment. “When the first spontaneously emerged tree is as high as I am tall, I will stop filming here,” says Digna.
What makes “Weemoed & Wildernis” such a special viewing experience is precisely that voice-over. As a viewer you have to get used to this, not only because of the monotonous voice of the director, but also because of the often random announcements. It is often technical remarks that the director makes. Like stubbornly stating the position of the camera, the date, the distance from the tripod to the camera, where the cross of the viewfinder is pointed … the audience becomes so involved in the making of the film – sometimes we even see the film maker in the picture who takes over the function of clapperboard with her hands – and that has an alienating effect. You sincerely wonder what the point is. But whether Digna intended it that way or not, the viewer is immediately back on track when she tells between nose and lips that her friend and lover, René Scholten, turns out to be terminally ill. Even with insider information, this announcement hits hard. You can only have respect for the fact that Digna eventually finished the project, which she started with her partner, but without him so beautifully. The film images take on something so symbolic: the poplar in the scenes with the fixed camera angle 1, which stood so proudly upright at the beginning of the film, but is later felled by the wind, and yet comes out again and seems to start a new life, also does not reach the end of the film.
Despite the relatively small share that the young farmer Leen Vos and his family have in the documentary, you also become attached to them. The baby, who is lovingly provided with a clean diaper, helps with the move years later. The Vos family owns the last agricultural business that leaves the island. Everything is changeable in life. And as a person you cannot influence everything. In fact, you have no control over the most important things in your life. “Death is lonely,” says Digna, “the experience is not divisible.” And that is of course correct. But with “Weemoed & Wildernis”, the filmmaker has found a method to share her awareness of the transience of everything with the viewer. Yet sadness and sorrow do not dominate the documentary. Melancholy does. But that’s another word for melancholy.