Want to watch the documentary, but you can't? Get Access Now!


Few of us, as not to say none, pass through existence, from birth to death, without asking at some point: am I happy? At such moments, our minds often drift back in time and wonder how our life has come to be as it is now. Winner of the IDFA audience award, the documentary film DESI is a story about a seemingly ordinary eleven-year-old girl. She wears fashionable clothes, goes to school every day and is keen on making fun with her girlfriends. Quite an ordinary girl. But when school is over and everyone goes home, Desi stays behind on the sidewalk with her cellphone. She still has to find a place to sleep for the night...

Social Interest
Desi is an 11-year-old girl from Amsterdam who is unusually strong and self-reliant for her age. However, in this documentary viewers learn that Desi's maturity came through necessity rather than chance; Desi's mother committed suicide when she was an infant, and her fractured, dysfunctional family was never able to establish a permanent guardian. After a day at school, Desi is never sure whether she'll be staying with her father, one of her surviving grandparents, or her best friend. This film makes you wonder - will Desi's lack of basic needs turn her into a an unbalanced adult?

DESI is mostly shot in cin?ma v?rit?. The Brazilian director Maria Ramos usually follows her main character, Desi, at a distance, leaving out any comments or interviews. Though the result is a very loving and honest portrait of the kid, the style elements she used (use of, position of the camera) made part of the audience doubt if it was a realistic one. Maria Ramos admitted that some scenes had been staged to a certain extend, but never fictionalized. Although her revelation led to a controversy at IDFA, we feel that Ramos stayed well between the lines of good documentary practice as she never tried to mislead anyone.


  • SCRIPT: Maria Ramos
  • CINEMATOGRAPHER: Adri Schrover
  • EDITOR: Stefen Kamp
  • SOUND: Simone Galavazi
  • PRODUCER: Eveline Raijmans
  • PRODUCTION COMPANY: Pieter van Huystee Film & TV

    Awards & Screenings

  • 'Best Long Documentary' Dutch Academy Awards 2001
  • IDFA 'audience award' 2000
  • International Film Festival Rotterdam
  • Seattle International Film Festival

  • Community