The making off the masterpiece animations of LOVE IS POTATOES

Wonderschone en diep ontroerende film over Aliona’s Russische moeder en haar vijf zussen. Het leven onder Stalin vormde hen. Ze vertellen onvoorstelbare verhalen, magistraal en poëtisch verbeeld door beroemd animatie-kunstenaar Massi. Een kleine vrouwengeschiedenis over grote gebeurtenissen.

Op een dag krijgt Aliona van der Horst een erfenis: een zesde deel van een houten huisje op het platteland van Rusland. Het huis waar haar moeder opgroeide. Samen met haar Russische familieleden ruimt zij het huisje leeg en leert zij langzaamaan steeds meer over het onbekende verleden van haar moeder en vijf zussen.

Makkelijk gaat dat niet. Men laat liever het verleden rusten en zeker de slechte dingen. Ze zijn er echter allemaal door getekend. Het gebrek aan alles. De vereiste opoffering aan de grote zaak. De onbelangrijkheid van de individuele mens. Heel voorzichtig weet Aliona de bijzonder ontroerende en indrukwekkende verhalen los te krijgen. En krijgen vermakelijke details ineens een heel andere lading.

Aliona van der Horst is een van Nederlands beste documentairemakers. Dit persoonlijke verhaal vertelt ze zo verfijnd en meeslepend dat de film de allure van een speelfilm krijgt. Haar familieleden zijn zowel klein als groots in hoe zij het leven dragen. Mede dankzij de poëtische verbeelding van het verleden door Massi werkt de film toe naar eenclimax die je diep raakt. Een film die nog lang in je hoofd blijft zoemen.




 Aliona with aunt Liza,90 years old

Aliona with aunt Liza,90 years old

Director's statement: 

Sometimes life deals you a card you have to play. This happened to me when Iinherited  my six square meters Russia.  It consists of a small room in a wooden house in a village close to Moscow from 1854. The house of my grandmother, my mother and her sisters.  After the dead of my aunt it is now deserted.  It will rot away if  it is left like it is. So two cousins and me have to decide what to do with it. Walking in this empty house, full of memorabilia, clothes, shoes, books about communism and religion, I suddenly realize there is so much I don't know about my Russian family. Before deciding what to do with my six square meters I need to delve into my Russian roots. This film is about trying to find out how my family of peasants lived in Soviet Russia, what they lived for, how their lives are shaped by Russian history. And how my life still resonates with it. 


One day, Dutch film maker, Aliona van der Horst was given her inheritance:  6 square meters, one sixth of a small, wooden house in the Russian countryside where her mother grew up. It was as if life had handed her a card she felt forced to play.She began a journey into the past, back into the childhood of her Russian mother and her five sisters, all of whom struggled with fear, famine and war in Stalin’s Russia;  experiences that left them scarred to their very soul.

Aliona’s quest into the lives and fate of her family becomes a loving, poignant, and poetic film with characters that could come from any classic novel.

Accompanied by the magical animation of acclaimed Italian artist Simone Massi, unimaginable events in the Soviet past are given an extraordinary and immediate charge. Along with the stories of ordinary people living in a small farm house, the film maker tells the tale of Soviet terror, immense bravery and a fear that has never left those four walls.



 A Dutch film maker is given an inheritance of 6 square meters of a small, wooden house in a village outside Moscow. She embarks on a journey back into the secrets and unimaginable hardships of her mother’s Russian past.


Long synopsis

When her mother died in 2014, film maker Aliona van der Horst inherited a part of the abandoned family home in Russia: a room of 6m2 where nothing had been thrown away for over 50 years. She returned with her camera to the village where she had stayed as a child during the holidays.The voices of her grandmother and aunts still echoed around her. But who were they and what kind of lives did they have? Why was her mother so shaped by her childhood and why did fear still hang in the air?What was the family’s ultimate sacrifice that still haunts them all to this day?The filmmaker looked into every nook and cranny of this mysterious farmhouse, full of relics and secrets. Boxes and suitcases full of worn shoes in every size, piles of rags, towels, blankets, dusty cupboards stuffed with jars and cans. Everything was left untouched, just in case.She talked to her remaining family and neighbours and through subtle, poetic probing she pieces back together the history of the Zotova family.

At the height of the Cold War, Aliona's mother abandoned her family to marry a Dutch man and moved to the Netherlands. From then on she was stigmatised as "a traitor of the motherland." Although she was unable to speak in the years before her death, Aliona and hermother’s written memoirs narrate the film.  Together with an old cassette tape of her grandmothers memories,  the relatives come back to life, one by one.

Not everyone is happy with Aliona’s curiosity for the past. Her cousin Sasha, has big plans for the house. He doesn’t like his cousin filming in all that mess.Aunt Liza thinks Aliona is exaggerating. Were Stalin’s famines really that bad?And the war too -  their family life was normal, wasn’t it? Everyone lived that way. “Aliona, why are you making such a big deal of everything? “ She says “When a mosquito flies by you turn it into an elephant. “Her Aunt Valya says, 'A educated person will never understand the painand suffering of the hungry ones”.

Determined to avoid using film archive, Van der Horst searched long and hard for an animation artist who could visualize the terrifying memories of her mother and Grandmother. She found him in Italy - the much acclaimed Simone Massi, who, with black and white crayons, brought the family’s stories back to life. The scythe, which the women swung across the cornfields is both theirmeans of survival and a symbol of torture inflicted on those who were forced to continue toiling in the fields whatever the cost. Back then, the individual meant nothing, the community had to sacrifice everything for the future of the Motherland.