The Columnist

The Internet has changed the way people relate to information and respond to one other, those who have worked to attain a position, knowledgeable in their field, their thoughts considered and composed given a forum which is perceived as an invitation to abuse directed not at their opinions but at who they are, as is the experience of writer Femke Boot, the columnist for popular website Volkskrant.

Targeted for abuse from those who object to her politics, her feminism, her discussion of women’s subjects, her perceived naivete (“Why can’t we have different opinions and be nice about it?”), Femke becomes consumed by the hateful comments directed towards her on Facebook and Twitter from apparently complete strangers, unfathomable when she is not even so controversial a figure as the shock author Steven Dood.

Her daughter Anna having problems at school, a wilful champion of free speech at odds with her headmaster, Femke struggles with these distraction when she is due to deliver the manuscript for her book and the police are disinterested in what they regard as harmless name calling, leading Femke to redirect her energies, locating and confronting the men who hid behind the anonymity of cyberspace, releasing both her fury and her muse.

Directed by Ivo van Aart from a script by Daan Windhorst, The Columnist (a significant departure from its native title De Kuthoer) stars Westworld‘s Katja Herbers as Femke Boot, a working single mother increasingly frustrated with the pervasive misogynistic abuse and personal threats against her and Anna (Claire Porro) generated from within her community in the Netherlands, supposedly celebrated for its tolerance and acceptance.

A bloody black comedy of suburban slayings and carnage on the cycle paths created by the unlikeliest suspect, a suppressed Serial Mom set among the tulips and windmills, The Columnist sees Femke’s life split into two increasingly disassociated parts, crafting her acceptable thoughts into prose by day and eliminating her critics by night, the police clueless in the hunt for the perpetrator of “the middle finger murders.”

So named for the trophy removed from each victim, Steven Dood (Bram van der Kelen) stands in contrast to Femke, his public persona just that, a means to sell books, while off camera he is supportive both emotionally and practically, his comfortable duality a reinforcement of the skewed double standards for men and women, he given licence to provoke outrage while she is expected to smile in the face of relentless abuse.

The Columnist will be released on digital platforms across the UK and Ireland from Friday 12th March



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