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by Rose Finlay

Sometimes you come across two films that are so much alike that it feels rather uncanny. However, it is rather rare to find them both in the same competitive section of a film festival. I suppose the Generation section organizers felt that 2023 was the year that audiences needed two films about little girls whose fisherman fathers died in suspiciously negligent situations, leading said girls to uncover the truth, only to slowly come to terms with their grief. While there were some differences between SEEVONK and SICA, the similarities were so strong, that it not only demands comparison, but also inevitably devalues both films due to the apparent unoriginality of the plotline. Is the world big enough for two such films? Perhaps, but I am not convinced the Generation section is, particularly not when one of the films in question was the opening film of the Kplus section! Perhaps the problem is that the Kplus and 14plus sections are chosen separately, so no one was aware of the intense similarities between the two films. Read the overviews below to get a better idea of just how similar the films are.

ZEEVONK (SEA SPARKLE / MEERESLEUCHTEN) Domien Huyghe, Belgium, Netherlands 2023 Lena (Saar Rogiers) is a girl of the coast. She is a competent, fearless sailor who deeply loves and looks up to her similarly daring father, the captain of a local fishing vessel. When her father and his crew perish during a fishing expedition, Lena has a hard time accepting the truth. She doesn’t believe the whispers of the townspeople. It could not have been because her father made a mistake, it must have been due to a sea monster! So begins her quest to find the monster who caused her father’s accident. Along the way, she makes friends with Vincent (Sverre Rous) a boy working at the local aquarium and struggles to convince her best friend Kaz (Dunia Elwaleed) whose father also died during the voyage. As her family becomes increasingly concerned about her well-being and Kaz pulls away because of her denial, Lena become increasingly more convinced and reckless in her search for the truth. ZEEVONK is a heart-wrenchingly emotional story of a young girl’s journey with grief and the hard realities of the lives of those left behind in coastal communities.

SICA Carla Subirana, Spain 2023

Sica (Thais García Blanco) doesn’t want to believe it. Her father, whom she loved, has perished at sea off the Costa da Morte in Galicia. She is convinced it was only an accident, but she increasingly hears whispers that her father and his crew had been doing something shady during the storm which led to their deaths. Her mother also seems resigned to this reality, but Sica doesn’t want to believe this and searches the coast hoping to find his body on the shore. She turns to beliefs of the region, listening for his voice at cliffs where supposedly the souls of sailors speak to the living. Her friend Leda, whose father also died during the accident, thinks it’s time for Sica to grow up. But Sica is at a precipice, still believing and searching for mystical answers beyond the dark truths that actually mark her world. Sica meets Suso (Marco Antonio Florido Añón), an oddball storm chaser, and the two work together to use science to find the bodies. When one comes to shore, Sica’s mother claims it as her husband, which ensures the family receives death benefits. This creates further tension in town as Leda’s mother believes the body might have been her husband and without a body she can’t collect. SICA is a visually striking film which highlights the grief of an awkward teenage girl against the backdrop of the economic desperation of the seafaring community of the Galician coast.