Directed by Wytse Koetse, “Aunt Iki” is one of the most captivating and special short documentaries you’ll see this year.
The 27-minute film takes viewers into the world of Wytse’s aunt, Sigrid Koetse, an award-winning actress and grande dame of the Dutch theatre as she grapples with the quietness of her golden years following nearly a lifetime in the public eye.
Born in 1935, Sigrid Koetse’s extraordinary career spans decades and mediums from spectacular roles on great theater stages to cinema and television screens across the Netherlands. In 1996, she was appointed Knight in the Order of Orange-Nassau for her 40-year career in the arts.
Koetse was dazzling then and, as you’ll see in “Aunt Iki,” she is still as enthralling to watch today.
One of the first things viewers will notice about “Aunt Iki” is just how striking Wytse Koetse’s cinematography is. The variety of shots and the way Koetse frames his subject and environment is mesmerizing and evokes emotion as you’re pulled directly into the scene. It’s as though you’ve been transported straight to Amsterdam and into Aunt Iki’s lovely home for a long overdue chat. The most intimate scenes such as those of his aunt reflecting quietly are breathtaking in their sereneness. While other shots are soul-searing in what they express through a wordless gaze. To see life through Koetse’s lens is nothing short of a powerful and enchanting experience.
Throughout the film viewers learn about the loneliness Sigrid has faced since leaving the stage and how it has impacted her mental health. Most everyone will experience loneliness at some point in their life. To see Sigrid speak so candidly about how it has affected her is deeply moving and should inspire conversations as to how individuals and communities can do more to connect with each other, especially older generations, in engaging and meaningful ways.
Perhaps one of the things that stops many people from making such connections is simply not knowing how or the fear of intruding on other people’s time. One of the great misconceptions in life is that we’re all hopelessly busy. When, in reality, connecting with those we care about is never an interruption but the thing that makes life so worthwhile to begin with.
A highly personal film for Koetse, it’s very touching to see the relationship he has with his beloved aunt. To be invited in feels like a dreamy privilege as they engage in intimate conversations about her memories and how she is feeling. Impeccable and sharp-witted, she’s a firecracker and keeps Koetse on his toes. Watching their bond reveals the immeasurable value and positive impact being present with each other and providing companionship can have on one’s mental and emotional well-being. To feel a part of life and have things to do and people to look forward to seeing, at any age, is the oxygen that brings us joy.
The film culminates in an ending that is so beautiful and profoundly human you may shed a tear while smiling at your screen.
How blessed we would be to all have an Aunt Iki.