Films & Schedules

  • Katia's Sister
    Het Zusje van Katia

  • Mijke de Jong

The Netherlands
Dutch, Russian
85 minutes

Production Company:
Keyman Film/ NPS Television
Hans de Wolf
Jan Eilander, Jolein Laarman, based on the novel by Andrés Barba
Production Designer:
Jolein Laarman, Fleur Ankone
Ton Peters
Dorith Vinken
Mark Glynne, Joost Roskam
Leo Anemaet
Principal Cast: Betty Qizmolli, Julia Seijkens, Olga Louzgina

Saturday September 0608:45PM AMC 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Saturday September 0608:45PM AMC 5 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Monday September 0803:45PM AMC 4 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 1104:45PM ISABEL BADER THEATRE Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Katia's Sister follows a thirteen-year-old girl's struggle to retain her childlike optimism in the face of some of the harsher realities of the adult world.

Her story begins when she leaves Russia with her mother and older sister, Katia, hoping to find a better life. But after arriving in Amsterdam, their aspirations are soon deflated. To make ends meet, the girls' desperately poor mother (Olga Louzgina) finds herself soliciting on Amsterdam's seediest streets and Katia (Julia Seijkens) starts stripping. As the young girl (Betty Qizmolli) watches the women's lives spiral hopelessly downward, she retreats into emotional isolation. In a world defined by drugs, prostitution and pornography, the things she values most – optimism and love – have become virtually worthless. She has become just “Katia's little sister,” and so that is what she calls herself – a girl without a name of her own.

Mijke de Jong's bold new film is a powerful indictment of the inequalities and hardships facing people who migrate to the West from former Soviet republics in Eastern Europe. For immigrants filled with hopeful aspirations, the life that greets them is often far more grim than they had anticipated. In Katia's Sister, de Jong brings the issues at hand into irrefutable focus.

This is a theme that is not only evident in stories about exploitation appearing daily in the European press, but in recent films, as well. The latest work from Belgian masters the Dardennes brothers, Le Silence de Lorna (which is also playing in this year's Festival), bears a startling symmetry to de Jong's film. As socially minded filmmakers, they have settled upon an unfortunate truth: when decent people become desperate, they are forced into committing otherwise unthinkable acts. For many women, the sex industry is the sad, inevitable conclusion to their hopes for a better life.

Katia's Sister is a poignant portrayal of these harsh realities. For Katia and her mother, prostitution becomes the only means of survival, a choice that offers escape from one kind of hellish existence, but inevitably barters with another.

Dimitri Eipides

Mijke de Jong was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Her feature films include Squatter's Delight (00), Love Hurts (93), Broos (97), Bluebird (04), which won the Young People's Jury Award at the 2005 Festival, the omnibus film All Souls (05, co-director), Stages (07) and Katia's Sister (08).

Cadillac People's Choice Award