• Festivals

Sundance 2023: Belgian Actress Veerle Baetens Makes her Directorial Debut with “When It Melts”

Since 1978, rising talent and hidden movie gems have been put in the limelight and given an international stage in Park City, Utah, thanks to living legend Robert Redford, who created this jewel of a film festival.

On January 21st, 2023, Flemish movie star Veerle Baetens’ directorial debut film, titled When It Melts, held its world premiere in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition.


When It Melts tells the story of a young girl called Eva. After an absence that lasted 13 years, she returns to her small Flemish hometown village in the dead of winter. She is now ready to confront herself and come to terms with past traumas. 

Veerle Baetens, who was awarded Best Actress at The European Film Awards in 2013 for her role in The Broken Circle Breakdown, put herself on the director’s chair to film the adaptation of the international best-selling novel Het Smelt, written by the young Belgian writer Lize Spit. The film highlights loneliness and illustrates the deeply buried pain inside this coming-of-age story of Eva, whose need for love and attention is inhibited due to her frozen emotions. She becomes her own worst enemy and the enemy of the people around her as well.

During an interview with Cineuropa, Baetens said: “The hardest thing was managing to arouse empathy for Eva as an adult. She’s a character who isolates herself, who we also needed to make more active. For my part, I wanted people to cry for her as an adult, not just a child. The film explores some very heavy-going subjects, but I didn’t want it to be heavy-going in its form. We had to find a certain fluidity and create a connection between the emotion that Eva exudes as a child and then as a closed-off and lonely young woman.”

Newcomer Rosa Marchant plays the vulnerable young Eva and Charlotte De Bruyne (The Twelve) delivers a stellar performance as the adult Eva. Other cast members include Sebastien Dewaele (Eigen Kweek, Bevergem), Spencer Bogaert (Alpha), and Simon Van Buyten (Billie vs Benjamin, Salamander). Savage films’ Bart Van Langendonck, one of Belgium’s most successful producers (Bullhead, Racer and the Jailbird), who has previously collaborated with Baetens on The Ardennes, produced the film.

Baetens spent five years working on the project. Together with author Lize Spit and screenwriter Maarten Loix, she reworked the book into a scripted scenario. She recently told Screen Daily that she knew exactly what she wanted and said to have been blown away by the book. “I could also see it would be very difficult to turn into a movie, because in the present it’s a very passive character, and there was an internal monologue. But it appealed to me that it’s about a girl who wants to be seen, to be validated, or to belong. The story also had great elements of tension,” Baetens explained.

Following its Sundance premiere, When it Melts is also selected for the Ingmar Bergman competition at the Goteborg Film Festival, in Sweden.