Water Children

A film by Aliona van der Horst

Netherlands | 2011 | 75 minutes | Color | DVD | Japanese/English | English/Dutch Subtitles | Order No. 121076


In this acclaimed, hauntingly beautiful film, director Aliona van der Horst follows the unconventional Japanese-Dutch pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama as she explores the miracle of fertility and the cycle of life—sometimes joyful, sometimes tragic. When Mukaiyama recognized that her childbearing years were ending, she created a multimedia art project on the subject in a village in Japan, constructing what she calls a cathedral, out of 12,000 white silk dresses. While Mukaiyama’s own mesmerizing music provides a haunting backdrop to the film, her installation elicits confessions from its normally reticent Japanese visitors, many of whom have never seen art before—and in moving scenes they open up about previously taboo subjects. Mukaiyama’s courageous approach to a subject that remains unspoken in many cultures is explored with an elegance and sophistication that deepens our understanding of the relationship between body and mind.


“As sensuous as Werner Herzog’s early work or Terence Malick, especially Tree of Life…an extended moment of the sublime.”

Gawie Keyser De Groene Amsterdammer

“Reserved and breathtakingly intimate… [T]he film penetrates into what is probably still one of the greatest of taboos, menstruation, and, as a consequence, about what femininity and being a woman mean.”

Dana Linssen NRC Handelsblad


  • DOXA Documentary Film Festival, Winner, Feature Documentary Award
  • Sarasota Film Festival
  • DOXA Documentary Film Festival
  • International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), Reflecting Images
  • Dutch Film Festival
  • Yamagata Film Festival
  • Dok Leipzig, European Premiere, Honorary Mention
  • Reykjavik Shorts&Docs Festival
  • Salem Film Festival


Aliona van der Horst

The Dutch director Aliona van der Horst was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1970. She studied Russian literature at the University of Amsterdam and film at the Dutch Film and Television Academy. She began her career in 1997 with the much-acclaimed The Lady with the White Hat and since then has received multiple awards for most of her films, among them the Special Jury Prize at the Tribeca film festival for Voices of Bam (2006), and the Grand Prix of the FIFA Montreal for The Hermitage Dwellers(2004). Recently she has received the Jan Kassies award, awarded by the Dutch Cultural Broadcasting Fund, for outstanding achievement. For her latest documentary Boris Ryzhy she received the 'Silver Wolf Award' at the IDFA Amsterdam 2008, Best Documentary Award at Edinburgh Filmfestival 2009 , the Award of the Dutch Filmjournalists and the Special Jury Prize at the FIFA, Montréal. (3/12)


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