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Review: Zara (2009)

Director: Anna van der Heide | 40 minutes | drama, short film | Actors: Marcel Hensema, Anna Raadsveld, Ad Knippels

Marcel Hensema is one of the Netherlands’ most versatile actors: in addition to acting in films, TV series and on stage, Hensema can also regularly be found behind the camera. As a director, he made two Telefilms (“Onstage”, 2004 and “15:35 Track 1”, 2002) and also directed several episodes of TV series. Hensema always knows how to get into his roles completely, so you often think “How do I know this man from?”, Even though you have already seen countless productions with him. In “Zara” he plays a completely different role again: that of a teacher at a secondary school.

One afternoon, seventeen-year-old Zara rings the doorbell of her teacher Gijs, who is doing odd jobs at the time. With her tear-ridden mascara, she looks desperate. Gijs lets her in and tries to talk to her. Once she has settled into her teacher’s living room, there seems to be little left of Zara’s desperation and the concerned Gijs is unable to start a conversation with the grumpy teenager. Zara comes across as cross, but unhappy, although she quickly feels at home in her new environment. Gijs offers her to stay for dinner and little by little the viewer learns more about Zara and Gijs. Gijs’ wife, who is also a teacher, is at school camp with HAVO 3 and his young children are out to stay. What are Zara’s intentions and how does Gijs feel about this?

“Zara” is interesting because of the dynamic between the teacher and the student. The story, written by Mirjam Oomkes and Anna van der Heide, is unfortunately quite transparent, but Anna Raadsveld (‘Timboektoe’) and Marcel Hensema, who have to carry almost the entire film alone, create a kind of tension so that the audience remains wary of unexpected events. That promise is not entirely fulfilled, but the pleasant acting makes “Zara” a fascinating short film. “Zara” was made as part of the fourth One Night Stand, in which young filmmakers are given the opportunity to make a short feature film. Anna van der Heide also directed “Zara” and previously directed “MissiePoo16”, which won a Golden Calf for best short film in 2007. Just like in that film, she also shows that she can empathize with adolescent problems, because Zara is a girl who could just live in your street.

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