This 2012 film co-written and directed by Patrice Toye is so much more than a coming of age story. Set in the late seventies in Belgium, the film follows Katja, whose real name is Katerina, a 17-year old orphan who is pregnant and living in hiding with other teenage moms-to-be in the attic of a hospital.
This hiding spot is like a convent, managed by a woman who wears a pin of the cross on her collar at all times. You suspect the dark undertones right away; you know intuitively that something bad will happen to either Katja or her baby. But the movie is far more than what you’d expect, with moments of wonder and illumination that make it impossible not to feel empathy for the characters. It takes a skilled director to make the audience align themselves so intimately with the characters.
Toye gets teenage angst, boredom and fun to a t. There are so many ways she could have delivered this movie and I’m marvelled at how well she was able to weave the lightness in with the darkness. To create balance.
The sound track of Little Dark Spiders echoes this ability to marry the complex with the simple: you have rock, pop and the usual cinematographic orchestra hitting the right tunes at the right moments.
The presence of the art director, Vincent de Pater, is also felt throughout the film. Scenes like the one where the girls put on a Greek play (I won’t tell you which one) is epic, to say the least. Difficult scenes, like going into labour and giving birth are shot with immense care and sensitivity and really convey the intensity of the experience in artistic ways.
Elements of fading in, out-of-focus shots and dreamy, pastel tones create multiplicity of atmospheres that contrast and parallel the soundtrack and religious symbols in the film. In short, Little Black Spiders is a must-see, not only because the content is touching and complex, but also because of its artistic and creative delivery. Truly a gem.
It plays on Thursday, Nov 27 at 7 p.m. Check out the trailer here:
The European Union Film Festival kicked off on the 13th with a lineup that highlights the best and never-before-seen-in-Ottawa contemporary cinema from—you guessed it, the European Union. The festival showcases 27 films in 23 languages over 18 days—possibly the most diverse fest of its kind. Screenings take place in the auditorium at Library and Archives (395 Wellington St). For the full schedule, and ticket information, click here