The Treasures of Crimea

Director/Writer: Oeke Hoogendijk. Produced by Zeppers Film (NL).

Funding Netherlands Film Fund: Ontwikkeling lange documentaire, Realisering lange documentaire, Netherlands Film Production Incentive Film Productions.

The Treasures of Crimea

It was a fateful coincidence that in 2014, just when the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam was staging an exhibition of Crimean artworks, Russia annexed the region. So now the question arises of who should the artworks be returned to? To the museums in Crimea who had been so kind as to loan them out? Or to Ukraine, perhaps, the country Crimea belonged to before the annexation? What should the museum’s director Wim Hupperetz do?

Veteran documentary filmmaker Oeke Hoogendijk (The New Rijksmuseum) is just the woman for the job when it comes to turning this complex issue into an exciting film, and finding the human dimension in a tangled judicial tug-of-war. Political, emotional, personal, cultural, and historical interests all jostle for position as lawyers arguing from a purely judicial perspective present their case and distressed museum directors face big gaps in their collections.

While archaeologists in Crimea continue their groundbreaking historical work, it looks like their previous finds are going to be re-buried in the Netherlands—shut off from the world in a warehouse, they are perhaps the biggest losers in this conflict.