A film by

Eliane Esther Bots

A near/by film production

In Flow of Words is a short experimental film about the piercing experiences of three interpreters of the Yugoslavia Tribunal in The Hague and their position as a channel between speakers and listeners, witnesses and defendants, judges and attendees.


The interpreters I work with in In Flow of Words, are born and raised in the former Yugoslavia and lived through the war in the 90’s. They find themselves in the surreal position of having their own memories and emotions confronted with the narratives from opposite sides of the conflict: those of the people accused of war crimes, and those of the victims with whom they can identify as countrymen.

The Tribunal, the courtroom and the fact-finding missions are rigorously designed sites defined by strict rules, rituals and costumes. Every participant has to play his part as neutrally and objectively as possible so that the conflict can be presented in the courtroom in a ‘linguistic’, controlled, civilised form. The interpreters have to align the erratic process of interpretation with the rules that apply in the arena of the Tribunal.

The film focuses on the contrast between the emotional and physical impact of the dramatic stories that the interpreters have to deal with on the one hand, and the controlled and neutral environment of the Tribunal and its missions in which these narratives get retold on the other. In the interpretation process, the interpreters have to be simultaneously present and absent: to be visibly neutral yet as invisible as possible, to get close to those involved yet keep their distance, to speak out yet be silent. They have to deal with the contrast between their inner turmoil and what they are allowed to show on the outside. They find themselves in a position in which they are transformed into human machines.

You can watch the full film on YouTube, courtesy of The New Yorker.


Director: Eliane Esther Bots

With: Alma Imamovic, Besmir Fidahic, Nenad Popovic Pops

Producer: Manon Bovenkerk

Production company: near/by film

Director of photography & color grading: Daniel Donato

Sound design: Sergio Gonzalez Cuervo

Distribution: Square Eyes

Supported by: Municipality The Hague & Stroom The Hague & The Netherlands Film Fund


60+ screenings, 15+ awards

European Film Awards nomination for Best Short Film

Select highlights:

  • Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland (4 – 14 August, 2021)
    Pardi di Domani Won: Best Direction Prize – BONALUMI Engineering & Short Film candidate for the European Film Awards
  • New York Film Festival, United States (24 September – 10 October, 2021)
  • Vancouver International Film Festival, Canada (1 – 11 October, 2021)
  • Hamptons International Film Festival, United States (7 – 13 October, 2021)
    Short Film Competition Won: Best Short Documentary
  • Chicago International Film Festival, United States (13 – 24 October, 2021)
    Documentary Short Film Competition
  • Valladolid International Film Festival, Spain (23 – 30 October, 2021)
    Time of History Competition
  • Uppsala Short Film Festival, Sweden (25 – 31 October, 2021)
    International Competition Special Mention
  • Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur, Switzerland (9 – 14 November, 2021)
    International Competition
  • International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam, the Netherlands (17 – 28 November, 2021)
    Best of Fests
  • Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival, France (28 January – 5 February, 2022)
    International Competition Won: Award for Best Documentary
  • Docaviv – Tel Aviv International Documentary Film Festival, Israel (19 – 28 May, 2022)
    Short Film Competition Won: Best Short Film
  • Icedocs – Iceland Documentary Film Festival, Iceland (22 – 26 June, 2022)
    Shorts Competition Won: Best Short Film
  • Netherlands Film Festival (21 – 30 September, 2022)
    Short Film Competition Won: Best Short Documentary
  • DOC NYC, New York, USA (9 – 27 November, 2022)
    Shortlist Shorts
  • 74th Locarno Film Festival, Switzerland (4-14 Augustus 2021) (world premiere)

    AWARD: Pardi di Domani Best Director – BONALUMI Engineering award

    NOMINATION: European Film Awards

  • 59th New York Film Festival, (September 24 – October 10, 2021)

  • 40th annual Vancouver International Film Festival (1-11 October 2021)

  • 2021 Hamptons International Film Festival! (7-13 October 2021)

    AWARD: Best short documentary award

  • 66th Valladolid International Film Festival, Spain (23-30 October 2021)

  • 57th Chicago International Film Festival (13-24 October 2021)

  • SPECIAL MENTION: Uppsala short film festival (25-31 October 2021)

  • 31st edition of the Rio de Janeiro International Short Film Festival – Curta Cinema 2021. (3-7 November)

  • Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterthur (9-14 November 2021)

  • Afi Fest, Los Angeles (USA) (10-14 November 2021)

  • Bucharest International Experimental Film Festival BIEFF (16-21 November 2021).

  • IDFA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (17-28 November 2021)

  • 33rd Aguilar Film Festival, Spain (3-12 December, 2021)

  • SPECIAL MENTION: Beirut Shorts (30 November – 3 December 2021)

  • Eastern Neighbours Film Festival, Den Haag (January 2022)

  • 42nd edition Netherlands Film Festival (September 2022)
    AWARD: Gouden Kalf, Best Short Documentary

  • DOC NYC, New York, USA (November 2022)
    Shortlist Shorts


Eliane Esther Bots (1986, NL) graduated from the University of the Arts Utrecht (NL) in 2008. She participated in the post-graduate program ‘Document and contemporary art’ at École Européenne Supérieure de l’image (FR) in 2012. In 2016 she graduated cum laude from the Master of Film at the Film Academy in Amsterdam (NL).

Her films have been screened and exhibited at festivals such as ‘IDFA’ Amsterdam (NL), ‘Locarno Film Festival’ (IT), ‘Berlinale’, Berlin (DE), ‘Cinema du Reel’, Paris (FR), ‘New York Film Festival’ (USA), ‘International short film festival Oberhausen’ (DE), ‘Go Short’, Nijmegen (NL), ‘International short film festival Curta Cinema’, Rio de Janeiro (BR), Glasgow Short Film Festival (UK), Kassel Dokfest (DE), POLIN Museum (PL).

Her latest film ‘In Flow of Words’ won several awards, among which the Pardi di Domani Best Director – BONALUMI Engineering award at the Locarno Film Festival. The film is among the five finalists for the European Film Awards.

Eliane currently works as a lecturer ‘Moving image’ at the University of the Arts in Utrecht (NL) and has been lecturing and presenting her work at other universities and organisations such as the Master of Film at The Netherlands Film Academy and ArtEZ Zwolle. She has also been programming for the Go Short Film festival, Nijmegen (NL).


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