DOK Leipzig Film Festival

The Principal Wife

The Principal Wife

“The Principal Wife” is an impressive and moving demonstration of how to trace one’s family history even if no one is willing to talk about it. At its centre is the 38-year-old painter Marijke van der Meulen, whose mother Aagje left her and the family to join a Christian sect when her daughter was eight. Aagje became the wife of the sect leader, who manipulated his followers and was later convicted of child abuse. Marijke herself escaped the abuse but, without knowing exactly what really happened, is still haunted by traumatic memories of that time.

She comes up against a wall of silence with her questions. Family members and friends grudgingly agree to be interviewed but demand to remain anonymous. Marijke accepts. Henceforth the camera focuses only on her, showing emotions and fears, anger and sadness play over her face. Flanked by her artistic works, the creative stopgap becomes a cinematic godsend. Rarely has a film managed so intensely and thrillingly to be there when an individual recollects the story of her life and makes sense of what happened. At the end only one interview partner is left on Marijke’s list …

Luc-Carolin Ziemann
Original Title: De hoofdvrouw
Country: Netherlands
Year: 2018
Language: Dutch
Subtitle: English
Runtime: 70 min.
Format: DCP
Color: Colour
Director: Hester Overmars
Producer: Koert Davidse, Marc Thelosen
Cinematographer: Jefrim Rothuizen
Editor: Ralf Verbeek
Music: Diego van Uden
Sound: Diego van Uden
Script: Hester Overmars

The annotations to the films in the Official Selection were written by the members of the selection committee and guest authors. All quotes from DOK Leipzig 2018 catalogue articles must be identified as such and cite the author's name. All articles where no author’s name is given are production notes.