Heir of Elsschot

  • literature

Heir of Elsschot (2006) is a documentary about the Flemish writer Willem Elsschot (1882-1960), who used his books to say everything he avoided saying in his real life as father and grandfather Alfons de Ridder.

In the film De Ridder’s 87-year-old daughter Ida tries to reconcile the stark contrast between her distant father and the openhearted author, so that she might understand who the man behind the writer was.

Willem Elsschot is an author with an apparently undying readership; his collected works were recently republished, film rights and translations of his books are being sold abroad, and he has a growing literary fan club as well. Ida De Ridder is the sought-after guest in this flourishing Elsschot circus. She is an intriguing, lively lady whose entire life is being determined these days by her father’s work. She not only plays the role of his daughter and connoisseur of his books, but also of guardian and champion of his legacy.

With all the attention for the books, there is also considerable interest in the man’s personal life. Interest that is often painful for the people he left behind. Through Ida’s personal memories and her meetings with family members and Elsschot experts, the story of Willem Elsschot/Alfons De Ridder unfolds.

A co-production between Viewpoint Production and 4Media, VRT, NPS Television, the Dutch Cultural Media Fund and The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) .

Written and directed by Suzanne Raes.