InScience Film Festival

InScience 2024: program reviews

The ninth edition of the InScience film festival was unforgettable! With no fewer than eleven sold-out programs and the fullest halls ever, we look back on an unparalleled festival. Read below some reports from festival programs, such as Een mooi gebaar and InVision.

Een mooi gebaar

With the program Een mooi gebaar we watched two films by Anja Hiddinga about the Dutch deaf community. In between, Richard Cokart from the Dutch Sign Center gave a lecture on sign language. The short documentaries and the lecture make the audience think. What is language? And what is normal in our society?

Sign language has only been recognized as an official language in the Netherlands since 2021. Before that, it was common to teach children to speak in schools for the deaf, so that they could gain access to society. Ben Tervoort’s scientific research at the end of the twentieth century showed that sign language is a popular and important means of communication among deaf children. People don’t just communicate with their voice: we also use our hands, body and face. It was emphasized that facts are always colored by our ideologies.

It remains important to work against discrimination and exclusion of the deaf community. For example, young activists from Kitchen’s Light emphasized that interpreters are rarely present in cinemas, festivals or TV. It is also more difficult to travel by public transport or to find a job. Although they encounter all kinds of walls, they dream of an inclusive society: one where sign language is understood by more people.

Ultimately, sign language is not just scientific and activist. It is also an art form that allows deaf and hard of hearing people to express their experiences in the world. The films and this lecture are a moment of recognition for the deaf and hard of hearing. They are also an invitation for non-deaf people to reflect on the obstacles and possibilities of sign language. Everyone can reflect on these films about the boundary between normal and abnormal. They show that we can make this boundary less strict by choosing a new perspective, by asking sign language speakers on stage more often.

Text: Heleen ter Horst


The science fiction thriller Arrival takes the viewer into a world in which spaceships descend on twelve different places around the world. Every government faces a language barrier between Earthlings and aliens. In the United States, linguist Louise Banks and mathematician Ian Donnelly are called upon to translate the message of these unexpected visitors. Language and science merge, raising questions about how language influences our reality.

The film manages to involve journalism and media in the story in an interesting way. We see international relations being discussed from a North American perspective. The foreign policies of China and Russia are characterized as hostile, while the United States portrays itself as wait-and-see and neutral. The military is pitted against science, and within science the discussion between humanities and science disciplines is central.

These different topics come together in the love between different people, from the romance between two scientists and the love between mother and daughter that results from this. We also struggle with the downside of love, which manifests itself in separation and loneliness. The contrast between love and emptiness disappears as soon as the differences between the past, present and future fade away.

The message of the film is that we must work together at different levels in society. World leaders can decipher the aliens’ message by sharing their experiences with each other. Language and science need each other to make new discoveries. It takes courage to make new discoveries. Perhaps it is even more important to listen to your feelings. Every now and then we have to allow ourselves to despair so that we have less to lose. Opportunities arise at the most unexpected moments. Would you make the same choices in your life if you already knew the outcome?

Text: Heleen ter Horst

InVision 2024

During the opening of InVision, guest speakers David and Jessie Peterson talked about what it was like creating the High Valyrian language for the Game of Thrones series. They took us through the entire process of reading the scripts for the first time, translating them, documenting them, recording them and finally speaking them in the series. That evening they delved deeper into creating language during their Big Ideas talk.

After a short break, the masterclass by Martin Dohrn, an acclaimed maker of nature documentaries, began. He explained the process of his film My garden of a thousand Bees, which was voted the best science film of the festival by the public at InScience 2023 last year. He made the documentary during corona time, when he was quarantined at home. “Filming bees turned out to be a challenging job,” he said. “The bees initially saw me as a threat, so more than 100 hours of film was thrown into the trash.” After three months of filming, the bees gained more confidence, allowing him to get closer. Special images were filmed that had not been captured before, making it a unique documentary. The nice thing about the masterclass was the interactivity between the audience and Martin. All questions from the audience were answered very passionately by Martin. He also gave tips for the ideas of the filmmakers in the audience.

In the afternoon, Wouter Sluis-Thiesscheffer, lecturer in Media Design at HAN, gave a workshop on AI and creativity and how they can reinforce each other. The guiding question was: what is creativity? Together with the visitors, new names for TV series were brainstormed. These titles were entered into ChatGPT, which created posters for these self-created series. “Use AI to maximize your own creativity,” was the lesson he gave the participants in closing.

Text: Marleen van Heijningen

Het Klikomeisje & Translating Ulysses

The screening of Het Klikomeisje turned out to be a moving and emotional performance that kept the audience in the audience captivated. The documentary is about one of the cold cases at the Amsterdam police, which started with the shocking discovery of a woman’s body aged 20 to 25 years old in a bin with concrete. In this film you see how the police work in combination with the latest scientific techniques. Forensic inspector Carina van Leeuwen makes a big impression because of her passion. Both in the film and during the Q&A it was clear how much she cares about her work and this specific case.

The film showed how special the latest forensic techniques are, such as isotope research: by examining pieces of bone, the detectives discovered that the woman probably came from Italy. In combination with data from Interpol, the cold case investigation received an important push in the right direction. The combination of music and images in the film was powerful, drawing you as a viewer into the mystery. At times the documentary even gave me goosebumps. At the end it was revealed that there will probably be a sequel to this film, which is definitely recommended!

The film Translating Ulysses was introduced by program maker Kiki Kolman, who explained how this film fits perfectly within the theme of language. Since 2012, the Kurdish writer Kawa Nemir has been trying to translate the book Ulysses into his native language. This process was recorded in this slightly chaotic documentary, which is nevertheless an intriguing viewing experience due to the combination of monologues, silences and music. The film managed to touch people, as was evident from the reactions during the screenings.

Text: Marleen van Heijningen

More news

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay up to date about the festival