Live in the Zevendal (Trilogy)

Adjacent to the neighbourhood of the Bisselt lies the nature reserve area of the Sint Jansberg and Mookerheide. This area is bisected by the Zevendal, a valley carved by a glacier tongue during the ice age. Originally this land was used for agricultural purposes. At present the valley is owned by Natuurmonumenten (a nature conservation society), which has restored it to a more ecological environment.

Part 1 (44 min.) is about farmer Piet’s last year in the valley.

During the summer months, for 15 years in a row, farmer Piet’s cows had been grazing in the Zevendal. In 2009 this took place for the last time. Gonda has recorded the life of this farmer and his cows on film. From her house she overlooks the valley and was thus able to record all the special moments in which the herd of cows was involved.

In the film the seasons with their natural phenomena pass by. Also, fox, goose and deer play a role in the film. In spring the calves are born in the stable, after which the young mature cows are transported from the farm to the meadows of the Zevendal. There they eat, they copulate, they grow. Late in autumn they are gathered again for the winter to return to the stable. We see farmer Piet, with the help of his brothers, run the farm and we hear him talk about the cows and about what he thinks of people. At the end of the year the oldest bull is collected for slaughtering. At Christmas his meat will be eaten with great relish. At New Year’s Eve the doughnut balls will be on the table again and the year will have come to a close.

Part 2 (60 min.) is about the foresters of Natuurmonumenten.

In the years they were followed, a few of the older foresters fell ill or died and were replaced by new young foresters. The film shows what kind of work they do and we accompany them to mow pools, shear sheep, build a staircase, or follow them on one of the many work mornings for volunteers. Also a meeting with the residents takes place about the pros and cons of the planting of hedges in the valley.

Part 3 (78 min.) is about the residents of the Zevendal, who apparently are living their ordinary, yet very special lives there.

In this part a recording is shown from the lives of approximately 50 residents, who were followed in their existence during a period of three years.  Although they live together on one square kilometre of land, their lifestyles are completely different. The people have been filmed at home, but also at the neighbourhood BBQ and at the neighbourhood council’s Bisselt days.

In this part Gonda herself sings two songs that are heard as an accompaniment to the pictures.

This documentary in three parts records a few years from the history of the Zevendal, on how people live and work there in the beginning of the 21st century.

  • Cameraman/woman: Gonda van der Zwaag
  • Editor: Gonda van der Zwaag and Piet Pols
  • Script: Gonda van der Zwaag
  • Musical composer: Yann Tiersen
  • Others: Piet Pols -- technical support

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