Between 1959’s 32nd Annual Academy Awards and 2020’s 93rd installment of the beloved filmmaking tradition, the Netherlands has submitted films for consideration for the Best International Film Award. So far, seven of these films have received nominations for that award, three of which won their respective year’s Oscar. In this article, we discuss those three Oscar winning films plus where to find them online so you can enjoy them for yourself.

The Assault (1986)
Drama, History, Romance
Rated PG
Starring Derek de Lint, Marc van Uchelen, Monique van de Ven
An adaptation of the successful novel by Harry Mulisch based on a true story, this film chronicles an actual assault that took place in the Netherlands during the Nazi occupation of the second World War. Presented in two time periods —the end of World War II and the eighties — the film tells the tale of a family destroyed when they’re set up to take the blame for a Nazi collaborator’s murder they had nothing to do with. The protagonist of the film, Anton Steenwijk, is the youngest child and sole family member jailed instead of killed for the alleged crime. The assault of the film’s title is an event that took place inside the jail cell where he spent that fateful night that so traumatized the young Anton, he’s still trying to recover from it nearly forty years later as an emotionally disturbed physician. Appropriately, two different actors play Anton as his respective younger and older self. Two actresses also take the female helm, but as two different characters, Anton’s wife following WWII and a strange woman in jail with Anton somehow involved in the mysterious assault.
Other notable awards The Assault and its creators received are:
● Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Film
● Nederlands Film Festival Golden Calf for actor John Kraaijkamp Sr.
● Seattle International Film Festival Golden Space Needle Awards for Best Film and Best Director, Fons

Stream on Netflix

Antonia’s Line (1995)
Drama, Comedy
Rated R
Starring Willeke van Ammelrooy, Els Dottermans, Jan Decleir, Victor Löw, Johan Heldenbergh, Dora van der Groen

A Dutch film frequently commonly called “a feminist fairy tale,” Antonia’s Line follows the willful titular character as she returns to her birthplace in a small Dutch village to set up a matriarchal community. Over the course of this fictional biography, the film explores a breadth of relevant themes, including sex, love, intimacy, lesbianism, friendship, religion and death. Riddled with setbacks in its making, the film’s release was met with high box office tallies and critical acclaim, winning eight major awards and receiving ten additional nominations. Antonia’s Line is an at-once fantastical and morbid film, weaving a magical fable with tragic realness.
Among the other major awards this film received are:
● Chicago International Film Festival Audience Choice Awards for Marleen Gorris for directing and screenwriting
● Czech Gay and Lesbian Film Festival Audience Award for Best Film
● Nederlands Film Festival Golden Calf Best Director Award for Marleen Gorris and Best Actress Award for
Willeke van Ammelrooy
● Toronto International Film Festival People’s Choice Award

Stream on hoopla, Vudu, Pluto TV, FlixFling

Character (1997)
Crime, Mystery, Drama
Rated R
Starring Jan Decleir, Fedja van Huêt, Betty Schuurman, Tamar van den Dop, Victor Löw, Hans Kesting
Based on a bestselling novel by Ferdinand Bordewijk, this fictional film tells the life story in retrospect of the prime suspect in a murder. As young lawyer Jacob Katadreuffe recounts it, his life was singularly, and almost obsessively, focused on becoming a lawyer, in large part out of loathing for his biological father, who just so happens to be his alleged victim, Dreverhaven. Dreverhaven is a bailiff with a reputation for cruelty who also happened to be Katadreuffe’s personal rival since his poverty-stricken and petty-crime-ridden youth. At every step of Katadreuffe’s way, as he strove to elevate his state and his status, the acerbic Dreverhaven was there to knock him down and remind him of his insurmountable origins. A dark and violent film set against a vivid 1920s backdrop, critics and audiences alike nonetheless found hope and inspiration in its fable-like depiction of one person overcoming adversity against all odds.
Among the many notable awards Character and its creators won are:
● AFI Fest Grand Jury Award for director Mike van Diem
● Association of Polish Filmmakers Critics Awards Honorable Mention for the film and director
● Camerimage Golden Frog Award for cinematographer Rogier Stoffers
● Cannes Film Festival Grand Golden Rail Award for Mike van Diem
● Geneva Film Festival Best Actor Award for Fedja van Huêt
● The Netherlands Film Awards’ Golden Calf Award for screenwriter Laurens Geels and Grolsch Film Award for actor Jan Decleir, with additional nominations for Golden Calf Awards for actors Jan Decleir and Betty Schuurman and director Mike van Diem
Character also received a nomination for the Netherlands’ Guldbagge Award for Best Foreign Film.
Stream on Netflix

Dutch filmmakers have always contributed significantly to the world’s pantheon of great films, and will undoubtedly continue to do so, and receive accolades for these achievements, in the future.
In addition to the Oscar winners listed above, the other Dutch films considered for an Oscar Award are:
● Village by the River (1959) – Available to rent on Amazon
● Turkish Delight (1973) – Unavailable for streaming
● Zus & Zo (2002) – Available on FlixFling
● Twin Sisters (2003) – Available on Paramount+

Three more films — Black Book (2006,) Winter in Wartime (2005) and Accused (2014) — made the shortlist. Meanwhile, an additional two films the Netherlands submitted but which the Academy rejected from consideration were 1989’s The Vanishing, because over half of it was in French, and 2006’s Bluebird because it had aired on TV instead of in theaters.
Between the winners, contenders and rejects of America’s most esteemed filmmaking award for non-American films, cinephiles have a plethora of award-worthy Dutch entries up for their own consideration.

Helen Back

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