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Festivals and Press

Daily newspaper NRC:
…a meritorious film.

Daily newspaper Trouw:
…a beautiful ‘documentary essay’.

The film was shown in the First Appearance Competition at IDFA 2003 and at the Netherlands Film Festival in 2004. It was broadcasted by the Humanistic Broadcast Organisation in september 2004 and distributed to theaters in the Docuzone short film program ‘Kort & Goed’.

Acclaimed filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky:
‘This is cinema! Wonderful.’, a website concerning film:
The quality and diversity make the class of 2003 of a high level. Amongst this year’s beauties is Searching, a documentary that deepens it’s subject purely with sound and images.

Filmkrant, a monthly paper for film people:
At the Netherlands Film and Television Academy visual conformism and the following of dogmas are traditionally seen as a good quality. Knowing this it is a big surprise to see right there a couple of filmmakers with character. With Untertage-days under and Searching the class of 2003 offers two documentaries that take each in its own way the absolute freedom of the medium.
By choosing for a group of people looking for fossilized teeth in a sandpit Chai Locher did not pick a visually easy subject. But together with the intense camerawork of Aage Hollander he manages to visualize it very brilliant. With well-considered parallels in images and great variations in sound the film manages to provoke a world that is lonely and consoling at the same time.
The documentary is convincing because the director managed to bend form and content to its will. And succeeded in lifting the sum of the various disciplines to a level far above the technique and functionality.

In a radio interview director Chai Locher describes the origin and motivation for the film as follows:

“How can one understand the large-scale plan if you still think the small thing is weird? The sandpit is just beside the summerhouse of my grandmother. In the last few years I saw these people there, digging in the sand. I thought it was a strange hobby. For my graduation I wanted to make a big film about large-scale things, currents in society, ‘problems of these times’. Until the moment I realized that it is always just because some people are looking for happiness. Now I want to make a film about a few ‘strange people’, who are just as anybody else looking for a bit of happiness in their lives. In doing so they ended up in the mud of the sandpit.

These people are unconsciously looking for luck in a very literally way: the legend goes that he shark’s teeth bring luck. Still it is more the act of searching that makes them happy then the finding of the teeth itself. The teeth are worthless and are put away in an old box. I think that in this searching without purpose the people find a save haven away from the troubles of their lives. An escapism that in a way is not strange to anybody.”

The film is shot in 18 days, directly after that edited in four and a half week, and directly after that sound-designed in 2 weeks. An enormous job considering that this kind of film requires that every decision is made at the basis of feelings instead of narrative arguments. The film is shot on S16 and finished on Digital Betacam.

The form and the style of the film had to be very stilished from the beginning on. Director Chai Locher wanted to take the chance that he thought after the academy would not easily be given to him, the chance to make a film that leans on esthetics. The esthetics of sound and image are very important. Also the editing and camerawork provide their best qualities to the total of the film.