special thanks to the Dutch Embassy in China

Ophelia is an intimate portrait of a woman slowly sinking away in a deep post-late-Romantic fantasy she cannot seem to control: becoming 'Ophelia', the famous Shakespearean character who drowns herself out of grief for her beloved Hamlet—but also because she went mad not being able to make any choices for herself. Laying in bed, sleepless, staring at the ceiling, but also at work in a primary school as an art teacher, this woman’s mind is autonomously sinking away into the painting. She is working on a large reproduction of it in class, until something snaps and she decides to create a real life version by going to the garden centre and actually buying all the trees, plants and flowers in the painting and arranging them in her living room. As her mind is sinking away into the painting, the story becomes her, and takes her mind into a forest, a primeval forest, with countless threads of stories, memories, branching into one another, all the things we all try to use to piece our own story together. In an endless loop of time, this Ophelia is neither lost nor home, she is always drifting from one to the other.

If cognitive science were to state just one idea, it would probably be: neuroplasticity. Brains are remarkably malleable in what they do and think, and they keep changing. And as the brain changes, so too does the mind, and the self. People are not fixed entities but rather live through a succession of different selves. What we hold onto is the story that threads these selves together. We are the story we tell our selves. The mind is like a forest, there’s no hierarchy, no control centre. Numberless paths branch in all directions—it’s dark beneath the leaves, you can get lost..

In a forest, every branch is different from every other, and every tree a life form of its own, changing and developing according to its own logic. But greater movements move through the forest, and it thinks in a sense as one. As we struggle to order the realities in which we live, we are searching for these threads and unifying movements, these narrative coherencies. We are, on a daily basis, transforming the chaotic experience of being into the coherent story of an I. But what if the thread unwinds, what if the story is taking you somewhere you don’t want to be?  — screenplay writer Adrian Hornsby about Urwald


Ophelia explores the borders where narratives struggle with chaos, and where consciousness struggles with the narratives that peak it.


Ophelia premiered at the Jimei x Arles festival
Xiamen, China — November 25 2017

Check out the official website here:


Sponsored by: Dutch Film Fund, Royal Dutch Embassy Beijing