Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square

(Het Bittere Kruid)

Year: 1985
Country: Netherlands
Run Time: 90 minutes


Young Dutch filmmaker Kees van Oostrum's work in American television won him an Emmy as director of photography. BITTERSWEET is his first feature, inspired by "Bitter Herbs," Marga Minco's moving autobiographical novel. Set in Nazi-occupied Holland, the story focuses on Sara (Ester Spitz), the teenage daughter of a Jewish family. In 1942, while in a TB sanitorium, Sara develops a close friendship with another teenage patient, Kreet (Mirjam de Rooij), the daughter of a leader of the Dutch Nazi Youth movement. They meet again by chance and Kreet's brother, a Hitler Youth, helps Sara escape from the fate of her parents and brother, who are shipped to Auschwitz. The film is distinguished by finely skilled acting and direction.

Kees van Oostrum, Maurice Noel (from the novel by Marga Minco)

Rob Houwer

Theo V. D. Sande

Hans Dunnewijk

Principal Cast
Ester Spitz, Gerard Thoolen, Kitty Courbois, Mirjam de Rooij

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