Episode of the Sea (2014) by Siebren de Haan & Lonnie van Brummelen follows the fortunes of the Urk (Dutch) fishing community, from the large-scale land works that have cut them off from sea waters, to their contemporary struggles within the EU and in the global market place.
Van Brummelen & De Haan’s film opens with Urk women standing upon land that was once the sea surrounding Urk, an island that had its own language, culture and economy based on fishing. They recount the ecological consequences of the Zuiderzee Works – a massive project of dikes and dams made to reclaim land from the sea, principally for agriculture, which cut Urk off from the North Sea. Over a number of decades the seabed behind Urk was then gradually filled in, ending its status as an island. The government expected the fishing community to turn to working the land, but instead they got new boats that could take them further out to sea where they could continue to fish. As skilled fishermen the Urkers had great success, and as the film tells, ‘within a few decades every fisherman in the village, from the captain to the lowly deckhand was earning the salary of a secretary of state.’
Episode of the Sea. 2014. Netherlands. Directed by Lonnie van Brummelen, Siebren de Haan. In Dutch, Urker; English subtitles. 63 min.