Willemien Sanders
Dr. Willemien Sanders is a regular critic at Modern Times Review.

The kind of visual, implicit documentary that defies storytelling dogmas.

Dream Box

Jeroen Van der Stock

Belgium 2017, 42min.

Mist slowly drifting up along a forested ridge; the sound of water, birds screeching.

The cleaning of a white van and metal cages; barking dogs.

Dense forest lit by sunlight; birds singing.

Dogs in a cage, a concrete floor, metal sides and bars; a man with a hose cleaning.

A forest stream cascading down; vapour rising up in lush green; the sound of water.

In Dream Box, Jeroen Van der Stock and DOP Xavier Van D’huynslager contrast sounds and images to tell a story about the Tokushima Kanri Center. This is an animal centre on Japan’s Shikoku Island where abandoned and stray cats and dogs are delivered to be castrated/sterilised and then … yes, then – what?

Japan is known for its ‘kawaii culture’: the love for anything cute and adorable (think Hello Kitty). However, when cute pets become superfluous, this love quickly evaporates. Dealing with the animals at the center seems a matter of processing. In a highly automated environment, existing mainly of concrete and steel, the furry animals and the rare blanket they get to lie down on appear to be the only soft surfaces around. The carers do their job seemingly by routine: cleaning, operating, while dressed in protective gear. They control the environment in which the animals move around from a distance, pushing buttons to open and close doors and move partitions.

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