I would prefer breathing to not breathing’ – Nobel Prize laureate
William Faulkner

In How to Meet a Mermaid, the sea becomes a haven for mankind, locked in its struggle with its ‘indifferent universe’. Lex, Rebecca, and Miguel each have their own reasons to lay their lives in the hands of the capricious waters. The question remains, however, whether they will find what they so anxiously seek underneath the surface of the waters.

IDFA screenings
18-11-2016 20:00 Tuschinski 1
20-11-2016 19:00 Ketelhuis Zaal 1
21-11-2016 11:45 Munt 12 (Press & Industry screening)
22-11-2016 18:30 Munt 10
23-11-2016 15:30 EYE Cinema 1
27-11-2016 16:00 LUX IDFA 6 (Nijmegen)
27-11-2016 16:15 EYE Cinema 2

World sales:
Catherine LeClef

International press at IDFA:
Silversalt PR | Thessa Mooij
Press materials: www.silversaltpr.com

How to Meet a Mermaid
90 min. |English, Spanish, Dutch, Arabic | Dutch subtitles | 2016 | Documentary | HD stereo 5.1

Written & directed by Coco Schrijber
Voice of the Sea: Sofie Gråbøl
Cinematography: Lars Skree
Sound recordist: Tim van Peppen
Editor: Gys Zevenbergen
Sound design & re-recording mix: Vincent Sinceretti
Executive producer: Judith Vreriks
Producer VPRO: Brigit Dopheide
Commissioning editor VPRO: Barbara Truyen
Delegate producers: Frederik Nicolai | Off World
Jesper Jack | House of Real
Produced by Frank van den Engel | Zeppers Film BV

About the director
Initially trained as a visual artist, Coco Schrijber is one of Holland’s leading, most adventurous documentary makers, having built an award-winning body of work that has been recognised in Holland and internationally. A graduate of Amsterdam’s art school the Rietveld Academy in the audiovisual department, she worked as a first AD for films by reputed Dutch directors Theo van Gogh & Pieter Kramer. Schrijber’s imagination and her film instinct which are so obviously present in her films, always using unexpected angles with which she approaches every subject, tipping it over and over, which results in sometimes worrying stories that turn the viewer into an uneasy voyeur. Her debut feature First Kill about one’s addiction to killing was selected for The IDFA Feature Length Competition 2001. It won the Dutch Press Award and the Audience Award at IFF Kosovo. Her 2nd feature Bloody Mondays & Strawberry Pies about boredom, starring John Malkovich, won 6 international awards, the Golden Calf Grand Prize of The Netherlands and was the official entry for the Oscars 2008. How To Meet A Mermaid (2016) is presently nominated for the IDFA 2016 EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Feature Length Documentary and competing in The IDFA International Feature Length Competition.


Directors statement
Life of Pi, All is Lost, Dead Calm, Cast Away; all are stunning films, each with the sea as their subject. Nonetheless, they all deal with ‘the will to survive’, as emphasized in their trailers. How to Meet a Mermaid, by contrast, deals with ‘the will to die’, which exists alongside the former and triumphs over it on occasion. Just as with survival, this will to perish requires its own share of courage and strength of will. My protagonists have made their choice; for Lex and Rebecca, grim determination takes them past death’s doorstep, whereas Miguel rushes headlong into a desperate adventure, as thousands upon thousands of illegal immigrants are doing at this very moment.

“To me, all human behavior is unpredictable, and considering man’s frailty in the ramshackle universe he functions in, it’s all irrational. It couldn’t be very rational because this universe is not a very rational one, it seems to me” – William Faulkner, Nobel-prize winning American writer.

In How to Meet a Mermaid, we hear the echo of Faulkner’s words, leaning over a lectern back in 1958. Having decided to put aside his beloved bourbon for a minute, he treats his audience to dissemination on our human struggle through a crackling microphone. I am a great fan of Faulkner, and the fifty-year-old recordings I’ve uncovered provide the motivations of Lex, Rebecca, and Miguel with a sense of perspective. The Faulkner quote stated above has served as the foundation for this film.

In How to Meet a Mermaid, we are hurled down onto earth by the universe, as portrayed in the stunning opening shots of the film: at times, in a paradise we no longer recognise as such; sometimes, in hell, and then there are times when there is nothing to it but to figure it out for yourself. Lex, Rebecca, and Miguel all reside in their respective paradises that have become a hell to them. Loneliness amidst thousands of fellow human beings (Rebecca on her Disney cruise), alone among friends (Lex at the diving resort) or Miguel (teaching surfing classes to tourists who are blissfully unaware of the fact that he uses his surfboard for purposes other than fun: an escape from destitute poverty and a gateway to that other paradise, America, his way barred by a fence.)

It appears as if I have produced a trilogy on the human struggle, without ever realising that the subject harbors my deepest fascination: how do we keep going? In retrospect, this trilogy started out with First Kill (2001): am I personally capable of killing a human being? Bloody Mondays & Strawberry Pies (2008) addresses the question of how to live without getting killed either by your job or by boredom. And now, How to Meet a Mermaid, on the battle to remain alive.

With How to Meet a Mermaid I stand up for the glorious beauty of our existence. This is a film about courage, doubt, difficult decisions, the lure of the sea, and the splendor of life in its occasional ineptitude at dissuading us from acts of recklessness. In the closing shot of the film, a footprint set in the concrete of a sun-drenched sidewalk, I join Faulkner by sharing in his vision: “I have great faith in man.”