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Cloud Forest

DirectorEliane Esther Bots
ProducerManon Bovenkerk – Near/by Filmmakers
CameraDaniel Donato, Herman van den Bosch
EditorEliane Esther Bots
CastElma, Amira, Alma, Amela, Matea
SoundSergio Gonzalez Cuervo
Year18 min
CountryThe Netherlands
SectionShort Films, Big Stories / Focus: Cinema by Migrants, Cinema on Migrants
ScreeningSaturday 9 November | 10:45 hours | Filmhuis Den Haag

A fairytale-like film in which five Dutch girls take the viewer on an imaginative journey through the memories and images they have of their parents’ experiences of the war in the former Yugoslavia. A war which the girls haven’t physically experienced themselves. The screening will be followed by Q&A with the director Eliane Esther Bots.


In Cloud Forest, the narratives are a combination of facts and imaginations, vague memories and detailed impressions, transferred from the parents to their daughters through conversations, listening in, silence and finding information on YouTube. Resulting in a scattered image of a conflict present on the horizon of one’s life. It is in the darkness, in the shadows, lit by mobile phones, where these narratives can unfold. While the girls listen back to their own stories, a mechanism similar to listening to a narrative shared by a parent, the viewer is invited to listen along and become part of the intimate spheres of their family.

Director’s statement

The starting point of ‘Cloud Forest’ was an encounter with Elma Cavcic, at that moment a student of mine at the University of the Arts in Utrecht. During one of the classes I gave a short presentation about my previous films and my focus in filmmaking on narratives which concern family and conflict. After this talk Elma approached me and explained that she wanted to share some anecdotes about her family history with me. This formed the start of a series of conversations with her and her friends. The stories about their relation to the history of their parents, who all experienced the war in the former Yugoslavia in the early 90ties, impressed me deeply. By sharing their impressions and thoughts, the girls introduced me into the intimate spheres of their families and homes. And they gave me an insight in the different ways that the war in the former Yugoslavia is still present in their personal lives. How do you narrate a conflict you haven’t physically experienced? And how does this history influence the relationship between parents and daughters? What place do these narratives have in your life? The process of making of ‘Cloud Forest’ functioned as a way to investigate these questions. 

Director’s bio

Eliane Esther Bots (1986, NL) graduated University of the Arts Utrecht in 2008. She participated in the post-graduate program ‘Document and contemporary art’ at École Européenne Supérieure de l’image (FR) in 2012. In 2016 she graduated cum laude the Master of Film at the Film Academy in Amsterdam. Her films have been screened and exhibited at (inter)national festivals such as ‘Berlinale’, Berlin (DE), ‘Cinema du Reel’, Paris (FR), ‘New York Film Festival’ (USA), ‘International short film festival Oberhausen’ (DE), ‘Go Short’, Nijmegen (NL), ‘International short film festival Curta Cinema’, Rio de Janeiro (BR), Flatpack Film festival, Birmingham (UK), Kassel Dokfest (DE), POLIN Museum (PL). In 2013 she won the BNG Bank Workspace price, a competition for experimental film of Filmhuis The Hague for the production of the film-installation ‘The Visionary’ which has been exhibited throughout The Netherlands. In 2017 her film ‘The Brick House’ was shortlisted for a ‘Golden Calf’ at the Netherlands Film Festival. She has been programming for the Go Short Film festival, Nijmegen (NL) and works currently as a lecturer ‘Moving image’ at the University of the Arts in Utrecht (NL).