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The Miracle of the Little Prince
Today, there are approximately 7.000 spoken languages in the world; half of them are in danger of disappearing. “The Earth is large”, says the snake in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s famous book "The Little Prince". The Earth is large, yet our world seems to get smaller: along with the disappearance of languages, cultures and their particular knowledge die, too.
Dutch filmmaker and photographer Marjoleine Boonstra follows four people speaking four different languages (Tibetan, Tamazight, Sami, and Nawat), who have discovered an unusual way to claim their identity and advocate the preservation of their respective languages: the translation of Saint-Exupéry’s children’s book classic into their mother tongue. The individual stories of the translators are marked by violence, loss of voice, and loss of identity, but they also tell us about courage, enthusiasm, and the solace and strength one can find in literature. With beautiful images, Boonstra evokes the unique tone of The Little Prince while she captures the amazing perseverance of the translators and the difficulties they have to overcome: a poetic film about the multilingual miracle of literature.
Marjoleine Boonstra studied at Minerva Art Academy and at the Amsterdam Film Academy. For more than twenty years she worked as a commissioning editor and director for a Dutch broadcasting Company. She has made documentary and fiction films as well as video-installations for museums of modern art. Central to Boonstra’s work is a deep interest in human life and a keen eye for simple details of how people cope with difficult circumstances.
This has resulted in concise and internationally awarded films, including; “Bela, Bela”, “Keep on stepping”, “Among horses and men” and “The Silence of Mark Rothko”.
An eye-catching detail that returns both in her films and in her photography, is people’s sleep. Boonstra: “This sleeping serenity under the most horrible circumstances ensures me the world survives. It shows the vulnerability of our existence in its most ultimate form. This moves me.” She has been a tutor of workshops as well as jury member at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) in recent years.