Alex Pitstra (director)
In Aeolus, we follow the crew members of the eponymous installation vessel, from the bottom to the top of the ship’s hierarchy, as they construct one windmill in a new wind farm at sea. The aim: to propel humankind forward.
The Aeolus is a massive installation vessel owned by Dutch marine contractor Van Oord. Onboard we find men and some women working together to propel humankind forward. Navigating between the opposing forces of the unforgiving sea and high-tech machines, they sail off to build an offshore wind farm. We follow the construction phases of one windmill. Moving upwards, alongside its construction, we travel through the multinational layers of power that are present on the ship. Our perspective morphs from the context of one cultural framework into the other and we learn that each character has its own dreams, hopes, and fears, and has a very specific reason to be out at sea. In the belly of the ship, we meet the Filipino’s who take care of the ship and its inhabitants. In order to support their families, they sacrifice many years of their life to work abroad in long shifts. Our main character in this layer sees the world in symbols that represent a spiritual dimension. His life-views contrast with those of the hyper-masculine constructors. These Russian-Lithuanians work in the most challenging circumstances at the weather deck. Our foremost character here just wishes to return home from this endeavor without harm and is primarily concerned about his money and his career. Unfortunately, a cultural glass ceiling blocks him from entering the top layer, keeping him even more confined in a limited space. Finally, we end up with the technocratic Dutch engineers who oversee the project from the high and dry safety of the bridge and their offices. Our protagonist in this layer is a young engineer who hasn’t even finished his studies but already has to lead the experienced pack of ‘offshore tigers’ that populate the construction crew. As the project is plagued by technical difficulties, unexpected cultural conflicts arise and each character is tested to his or her limits of understanding and endurance. Meanwhile, the windmill grows above sea level and becomes like a technological antagonist to the people working on the ship. We might slowly realize that it is not culture against culture, not one group dominating the other, but the demanding whispering of our ever-more energy-consuming technology that forces us all to colonize further and further into the natural wilderness. Perhaps, also further and further away from our own human spirit.
Alex Pitstra (42) is a Dutch-Tunisian filmmaker living in Amsterdam. He holds a BA in Audiovisual Communication (NHL Stenden Hogeschool) and Film Studies (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen). His feature debut Die Welt (2012), a cross-cultural docu-fiction hybrid, has been screened at several festivals, including IFFR and New Directors/New Films. The film was nominated for a Dutch Golden Calf for best script. In 2016 Alex directed the autobiographical documentary Bezness as Usual, about his long-lost Tunisian father and his extended family. This film, which was co-produced by VPRO Television and Selfmade Films, was screened at festivals like TIFF Docs and Locarno and was nominated for a Prix Europa. Besides directing his own films, Alex produces commissioned films and enjoys shooting and editing projects for his filmmaking friends.