The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium


Cobain runs away from his new foster family because he is worried about his mother Mia, who is heavily pregnant and lives on the street. When Cobain demands that Mia get help for herself and the baby, the two argue bitterly. Cobain finds shelter with Wickmayer, Mia’s ex and a pimp. When Mia contacts Cobain again, Wickmayer sends her away. But Mia keeps pulling Cobain in and Cobain can see that she is deteriorating. Cobain realizes that something needs to be done. He takes Mia to a remote, abandoned place where he locks her up to kick her drug habit. Although Mia resists at first, she slowly recovers. Then, as Cobain and Mia are finally becoming closer, disaster strikes …

Director's Statement

I will always prefer stories about outcasts, imperfect humans who must struggle to make something of their lives, stories in which the meaning of life is held in the details.

The unconditional love Cobain feels for Mia prevents him from getting his own life in order. He feels responsible for his unstable, pregnant mother and wants to rescue her. He is only able to choose life once he realizes that Mia cannot be saved. I think this is a very powerful dramatic concept. During the film, Cobain develops from a child into a man. He learns to take care of himself and make up his own mind, with all the consequences this entails.

Life through the eyes of a fifteen-year-old boy. He lives in exceptional circumstances, but is not always aware of this. Cobain’s mental journey is also a literal journey through the worlds he - temporarily - inhabits; the worlds in which he must make sense of himself. As the landscape changes, so does Cobain. He gets to know himself and the world in a new way.

Cobain has had a false start in life. His addicted, pregnant mother is unable to take care of him. Their roles are reversed: she is the child, he the adult. To prevent history from repeating itself, he must save himself by saving his unborn brother.

Cobain does not view his life as particularly hard or troubled; he takes things as they come. I am not so much concerned with the circumstances that can ruin a man, but rather with the life force that will not be slowed or tamed. It is the light that wriggles through the tiniest hole in the curtains, projecting an array of images onto the wall. In that moment, when you see it, there is happiness.

Director's Biography

Nanouk Leopold (Rotterdam, 1968) graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Rotterdam in 1992 and from the Dutch Film and Television Academy in 1998. Her graduation film WEEKEND won the Tuschinski Award for best student film. Her first feature ÎLES FLOTTANTES was selected for the IFFR Tiger Competition in 2001. GUERNSEY was selected for the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs at Cannes in 2005. WOLFSBERGEN premiered at the Forum of the Berlinale 2007 and was selected for the Toronto International Film Festival in the same year. BROWNIAN MOVEMENT premiered in Toronto in 2010 and had its European premiere at the Forum in Berlin in 2011. In 2013 IT’S ALL SO QUIET was the opening film of the Berlinale Panorama Special. She became a member of the Society of the Arts of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences in 2016. In 2017 Leopold directed her first play, From the Life of the Marionettes, for the prestigious Amsterdam theatre group TGA. In 2018 her sixth feature film COBAIN had its world premiere at the Berlinale in the Generation section.

2017 - COBAIN
2002 - LA GRANDE GUERRE, TV-adaptation of a theatre play
1999 - MAX LUPA, TV film
1998 - WEEKEND, short

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Nanouk Leopold

Written by: Stienette Bosklopper

Produced by: Stienette Bosklopper, Lisette Kelder

Cinematography: Frank van den Eeden

Editing: Katharina Wartena

Production Design: Elsje de Bruijn

Costume Design: Manon Blom

Make-Up & Hair: Elke Hahn

Original Score: Harry de Wit

Sound Design: Andreas Hildebrandt

Cast: Bas Keizer (Cobain), Naomi Velissariou (Mia)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2018