4 Elements

4 Elements

Opened International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in 2006

Since the beginning of time the human race tried to explain the primal elements of their world: Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. In these elements, one saw the kingdom of the gods. To keep the gods satisfied, the elements were handled with care. During the development of mankind they were deciphered, lost their mystic and transformed into pure matter. As an effect, people lost their respect for their power.

The force of the elements were used, however, they were never totally dominated, controlled or predicted. This means that we are nowadays still fighting the sometimes dangerous battle to control earth, water, fire, and air.
It is fascinating to see that those who are fighting this battle show a greater respect to the elements. In them we can see a sparkle of the primitive urge which is mostly lost by humanity.

'Vierluik' is a four chapter documentary about men who are still fighting one of the elements in the 21st century.
After the huge success of 'Days Under', the first chapter that attends to earth, the completion of the 'Vierluik' was unavoidable.
All chapters are connected with each other, though every part is on itself.

Vierluik contains the following chapters:
1: Earth: 'Days Under' mine workers in Germany
2: Water: king crab fishers of the Bering Sea
3: Fire: Russian 'Smokejumpers'
4: Air: training the astronauts

Dutch Film Festival 'Cristal Film' 2006
Trento Film Festival 'Grand Price' 2008
Femina Film Festival Rio de Janeiro 'Best Feature Film' 2008

List of Festival Screenings for 4 Elements

September 2006

  •  Opening Film IDFA, The Netherlands
  •  Hot Docs, Canada
  •  Silverdocs, USA
  •  Message to Man International Film Festival, Russia
  •  54th Sydney Film Festival, Australia
  •  Femina, International Women's Film Festival, Brazil
  •  Moscow International Film Festival, Russia
  •  Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Czech Republic

  •  Best Feature Film - Femina, International Women's Film Festival

Chapter 1: Earth - 'Untertage' - Mine workers in Germany

A journey into an unknown world: deep underground.
This impressionistic documentary shows a world where colours vanish, sounds distort, and machines make music. A world of great danger; where each human life is put in the hands of 'Holy Barbara' to get safely back up again. This coal-mine is hell and heaven at the same time. Its beauty and fellowship are not to catch in words; but 'earth' catches a glimpse of this world that's about to distinct.

Camera: Martijn van Broekhuizen
Sound: Jillis Molenaar & Tom Bijnen
Editing: Kristian Claas
Music: Horst Rickels & Dick Raaijmakers

List of Festival Screenings for Untertage

September 2003
Graduation Festival Netherlands Film & Television Academy in Amsterdam, The Netherlands


  •  Audience Award
  •  AVRO/ Nassenstein Start Award for the most talented graduation team/ crew

Netherlands Film Festival in Utrecht, The Netherlands

  •  Price of City Utrecht, for the most promising new filmmaker (Jiska Rickels)
  •  Tuschinski Award, price for the best student graduation film, awarded by the Dutch association of journalists
  •  Nomination for the 'Golden Calf' for best short Documentary of the year

November 2003
The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), The Netherlands.
Selection: Highlights of the Lowlands
  • 14th Place for the Audience Award

International Festival of Filmschools, Munich, Germany

  • Camera Student Award for the Best Camera Work, awarded by the magazine 'Film & TV Cameraman'

February 2004
Rotterdam Film Festival (IFFR), The Netherlands
Selection: Dutch Perspective

March 2004
Tampere Film Festival, Finland
In Competition

Thessaloniki International Documentary Festival, Greece

Taipe Film Festival - Golden Lion Award Student Competition, Taiwan
In Competition
Winner Bronze Lion Award (3rd Place)

May 2004
Munich International Documentary Festival, Germany
Selection: International Program

Amakula Kampala International Festival, Kampala, Uganda

June 2004
Message to Man International Film Festival, St. Petersburg, Russia
Selection: Debut International Competition

July 2004
39th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic
In Competition

August 2004
Edinburgh International Film Festival, Scotland
Selection: Document

Chapter 2: Water - King crab catchers of Bering Sea

During five days and nights the ship's company of 'Northwestern' bear freezing weather conditions and unexpected rising winds to catch King crab, the most exclusive type of crab. Driven by the thought of earning their annual income, they work passionately and hard.

Camera: Martijn van Broekhuizen
Sound: Jillis Molenaar & Tom Bijnen
Editing: Kristian Claas
Music: Horst Rickels

Chapter 3: Fire - Russian Smokejumpers

The Russian area that reaches from the arctic tundra's till the Mongolian Altai Mountains is extremely receptive for forest fires. Every year, twenty to thirty thousand hectares of woods are destroyed and thousands of animals die. These immense fires are controlled by only a few people: the Russian 'smokejumpers'. These men jump out of a helicopter with their parachutes, right in the stricken areas to fight the fires from the inside; an undertaking with extreme risks.

Chapter 4: Air - Training of the astronauts

As long as men exist, men have the urge to fly; the desire to make oneself free of the earth and behold the earth from out of space. All effort put into this desire made it possible to go where we are today: space travel.
To become one of those people to actually behold the earth from out of space, astronauts fight gravity by undergoing extremely heavy tests. Sometimes loosing their consciousness by the pressure they have to coup with.

With the support of:
Dutch Film Fund
The Dutch Cultural Broadcasting Fund