Review: The Hut Syndicate (2018)


The Hut Syndicate (2018)

Directed by: Diego Gutierrez | 86 minutes | documentary

Every year around October they meet in the Wieringermeer. Dentist, blacksmith or lawyer outside the hunting season, hunters once the season has started. They hunt hares that are harmful to the farmland, which they clean, prepare and eat in the evening. The head of this hunting collective, which calls itself the Hut Syndicate, is the gastronome Ronald Timmermans. Living in semi-isolation, this self-sufficient hunting master and writer longs for simpler times. Times when there were no chlorinated chickens, problem piglets and concentration camp cows.

In the Dutch documentary ‘Het Hut Syndicaat’ by Diego Gutiérrez we are introduced to this company. We will of course join you on the hunt and get to know the beautiful and less beautiful sides of it. The charm of the hunt varies quite a bit by task. The floats trying to lure the hares go all out for the moment when the hares leap out of their burrows. The charm of hunting itself is similar to that of fishing: a dreamy species waiting for that one moment when the prey shows up. It is less attractive when a hare does not die immediately, while cleaning the killed animals is not really a nice job either. Yet one thing quickly becomes clear: the pleasure of the hunt is not killing beasts, the pleasure of the hunt is the hunt itself.

The acquaintance with the hunters is just as fickle as the acquaintance with the hunt. Some hunters shoot more hares than absolutely necessary, other hunters have their clumsy mouths full of hot chicks, still others seem to drink so much during their lunch break that they are more dangerous to their fellow hunters than to the hares. Most hunters are aware of the pariah-like image of their hobby, at the same time they also see that the hysteria about hunting is often fed by people who, without batting an eyelid, gulp down a broiler chicken or hormone cow. It is this hypocrisy that annoys the hunters the most.

All this comes to us in atmospheric, sometimes gruesome, always honest images. The longer the film goes on, the more difficult the viewer will find it to make the kind of monosyllabic (yes/no) judgments that are common in the entire hunting discussion. Especially when old Just opens his mouth, a man on the edge of life who has given up hunting. Just’s wise words are typical of this extremely nuanced documentary about a phenomenon that just froths the minds of most people. A documentary that is almost at the level of another nuanced gem about the hunt (‘The Hunt’ from 1986), but which is worth watching anyway. Not suitable for vegetarians and vegans, food for thought (sorry) for not too narrow-minded movie buffs.

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