• Golden Globe Awards

Tonio (The Netherlands)

It was said that Tonio, the novel, simply couldn’t be turned into a feature film. The bestelling book by Dutch literary giant A.F. Th. van der Heijden, published in 2011, seemed to be untouchable after it won the country’s most prestigious literary prize. Tonio was a moving monument to the writer’s son, who had died in Amsterdam in a traffic accident at age 21. Now, the film strives to equal the book’s impact. And director Paula van der Oest has proved the naysayers wrong. Her film Tonio carefully captures the shock and horror of the author and his wife, Mirjam, as they come to grips with the loss of their son and only child, Tonio.In two decades of filmmaking, van der Oest has become one of the most respected film directors in the Netherlands. Her features — such as the Oscar-nominated Zus & Zo (2001) — have won Dutch and international accolades. Working with the seasoned actors Pierre Bokma, Rifka Lodeizen, and Chris Peters as Tonio, she has now directed a masterpiece, according to the unanimously positive reviews in the Netherlands.The intricacies of mourning and writing are hard to capture on film, as Van der Oest herself has acknowledged. In Tonio she employs extreme close-ups, near-magical lighting, lots of flashbacks to Tonio’s short life, and powerful editing to create an intimate connection between actors and viewer. The film is ultimately about the young man’s life. His parents’ desperate attempts to forget their pain through drinking, to somehow overcome it, are of course futile. But with the book and this film van der Heijden and van der Oest have made sure that Tonio’s life will not be forgotten.