Keeping and Saving - Or How To Live

The pursuit of the material in the face of digital supremacy

Keeping and Saving - Or How To Live Digna Sinke has always collected and preserved all kinds of day-to-day things, from sugar sachets to old newspapers; objects that recall memories which would otherwise fade. Yet digitisation is changing everything. In a fascinating exploration of memory and possession, Digna goes in search of the digital minimalists who no longer care about material things but about experiences, owning nothing but a passport, bank card, laptop and smartphone.

“I’ve been saving things for as long as I remember”, says Digna Sinke, film director and self-proclaimed hoarder. “Because I like it, because I admire it, because it may be useful. But my cupboards are full of files, and box files full of meeting documents, sugar sachets and letters. Boxes and suitcases full of old toys. Old stuff from my grandmother’s attic.”

Digna’s own mother is of a similar disposition, and rejoices at the rediscovery of objects from her past. “This was in front of the stove at Grandma Leik’s”, she recalls fondly when presented with a threadbare rug. Other items bring back similarly happy memories. “This is Ma’s bag she used for shopping… Ah, your bridal clutch… Ah, my little flat-iron.” Each item is greeted with smiles like a long-lost friend.

They both know that not everybody feels the same way. In fact, there are the beginnings a movement to a post-materialist world, where possessions lose the importance that they once held. “It feels as if things are changing”, says Digna. “That saving things is now seen as being a bit odd, maybe even pathological, a personality disorder.

To investigate this transition in mentality she travels to Missouri to visit Colin Wright, a public speaker and self-styled minimalist who believes that excessive possessions weigh us down. “The idea that you have to own specific things is a really harmful ideology”, he proclaims. Yet “for thousands of years, things, possessions, had value”, reflects Digna. “If you had lots of possessions, you were rich, successful... Today, is it the number of followers you have that gives you prestige and power?

Whether this transition will free us from the responsibilities that possessions entail, or whether it will cause us to lose a vital part of our collective and personal heritage, remains to be seen. For Digna, keeping or discarding things "may be the ultimate metaphor for life. Ambitions, dreams, hopes and expectations. Ultimately time catches up with all of them.... Keeping things is about life and death.”

Reviews and More

For a Q&A with director Digna Sinke, see here.

LaurelInternational Film Festival Rotterdam - Official Selection
LaurelDOK Leipzig Festival - Official Selection

The Producers

Digna Sinke (Zonnemaire, 1949) graduated from the Dutch Film Academy in 1972 as writer/director of fiction films and documentaries. Her first long feature film De Stille Oceaan (The Silent Pacific) was selected for competition of the Berlinale 1984. In 2010 she completed her documentary project Wistful Wilderness, which won the prize for best documentary at FIFE (Paris) and Neue Heimat Festival in Freistadt (Austria). In 2001 Digna took over the production company SNG Film (Studio Nieuwe Gronden) from her late husband René Scholten. Since then she has produced more than 30 films, including: feature length documentaries (An Angel in Doel, Forum Berlinale, 2011; Wavumba, Tribeca Best Young Director, 2012), hybrid films (After the tone, IFFR 2014) and fiction (Upstream, 2016).

Making The Film

I am going in search of this new human, who no longer cares about possession, but about experience instead. Remote workers, digital nomads and minimalists show me that all they possess is a passport, a bank card, a laptop computer and a smartphone. They travel around the world as the internet enables you to do your work anywhere. Getting rid of all their things has given them the freedom they were looking for. They only live in the here and now and are extremely happy. Talking to them – in Bangkok, Bali, Missouri or Lisbon – I try to find out what their life is like, without responsibilities, without attachments. And how a whole new kind of society is coming into being, of vloggers, bloggers, influencers, followers and location independent workers.

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