This was the official website for the 2010 movie, Oxygen/Adem (Hans Van Nuffel, Belgium / Netherlands) which centers on a teen with cystic fibrosis. Oxygen skirts disease-of-the-week cliché to deliver a touching portrait of youth facing mortality far too soon. Winner, Grand Prix of the Americas, Montreal Film Festival, Variety New Talent Award, Zurich Film Festival, Alice in the Cities Award, Rome Film Festival.
Content is from the site's 2010 archived pages as well as from other outside sources.
ADEM (Hans Van Nuffel) trailer En_subs
TOM (Stef Aerts) and his brother LUCAS (Maarten Mertens) are young men who suffer from cystic fybrosis, a genetic disease that slowly destroys their lungs. Tom is struggling to cope with his short life expectancy and hangs around with a gang of hoodlums. In the hospital, he meets XAVIER (Wouter Hendrickx), a young man suffering from the same illness but behaving like a top athlete. Xavier is a confirmed optimist, even when he is dumped by his girlfriend ANNELEEN (Marie Vinck). Tom takes in Xavier’s energy and joy of life. He roams the hospital grounds and falls for the charms of quirky ELINE (Anemone Valcke), who has been quarantined for months due to an infection. They are not allowed to touch and can only talk to each other over the phone. Yet, they start a romance.
When Tom’s brother Lucas dies during lung transplantation surgery, Tom is inconsolable. He seeks refuge among his rough friends, avoids Xavier and breaks up with Eline. But one day, he again crosses Xavier’s path who gives him back his taste for life…
OXYGEN is compelling, romantic, funny and heartbreaking. It’s a drama about having little time and not wanting to miss out on anything.
Country, Year: Belgium, Netherlands, 2010
Runtime: 96 Min
Languages: Swiss German, Flemish
Subtitles: English, German
Director: Hans Van Nuffel
Cast: Stef Aerts, Wouter Hendrickx, Marie Vinck, Anemone Valcke, Maarten Mertens, Rik Verheye
Professor Duhamel takes great but heartless interest in the rare case of a mutated, yet congenital long disease of shy 'good boy' Lucas, father Karl's pride, and his rebellious brother Tom, who decides to enjoy as much as possible his short-cut life with dubious buddy Jimmy. Lucas dies in a promising transplant, Tom finds an apparent soul-mate in older Xavier, on the same donor list. Over a few years, doomed passion with two girls, one of which is in a bubble on account of an uncontrolled infection, messes up their relationships and even Tom's will to live, while Jimmy spares no effort or victim for his buddy's chances. Written by KGF Vissers
9/10 stars | 3 September 2010 | by tonywohlfarth
Adem, directed by Hans Van Nuffel, screened this week in international competition at the Montreal World Film Festival (FFM). Tom (played by Stef Aerts) suffers from chronic cystic fibrosis - an hereditary condition he shares with his older brother Lucas (Maarten Mertens). Tom & Lucas spend much of their youth in the Belgian health care system, and the awful certainty that they will need to receive lung transplants and otherwise will not survive as adults. In one of his hospital stays, Tom meets Xavier (Wouter Hendrickx), who has the same illness. Xavier teaches Tom that life can be enjoyed to its fullest notwithstanding their precarious state of health. The two men face many ups & downs in a tumultuous relationship which is the basis of this fascinating film. The women in their lives and as well Tom's friends play prominent roles in an emotional roller coaster of a film. Ultimately, the two men's fates are inextricably linked. Stef Aerts delivers a magnificent acting performance, in which learning to take a breath of air is a challenge. The camera work is sensitive and yet unobtrusive. Hans Van Nuffel, who has a mild form of cystic fibrosis, also wrote the script and knows the subject matter. This gripping film is ultimately not about the illness. Rather it is about the will to survive.
Zurich Film Festival
ADEM / OXYGEN
by Hans Van NuffelInternational Feature Film / Competition / https://zff.com/
Like his brother Lucas, Tom suffers from cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease that affects the entire body. A large portion of his time is spent in hospital where Xavier, an older cystic fibrosis patient, takes him under his wing. Love also gives Tom strength – her name is Eline and she is in quarantine, but not even a glass wall can keep them from having their first kiss. Tom’s entire world collapses when Lucas dies during a lung transplant. Instead of using his time meaningfully, he falls under the influence of dubious friends and even breaks off his relationship with Eline. It is only years later, when confronted with his own mortality, that he remembers Lucas’ advice: take responsibility for your own life.
Reviewed on: 09 Feb 2012 by:Jennie Kermode | www.eyeforfilm.co.uk
Why go to see a film about life-threatening illness? Weepies on this theme keep on being made and keep drawing in audiences. Perhaps they're a convenient way to confront issues around mortality with attractive young actors. For those of us who live with such illnesses they are usually exercises in frustration, full of inaccuracies and suffocatingly sentimental. Fortunately, Oxygen is something different.
Stef Aerts plays Tom, who has grown up with cystic fibrosis and whose brother Lucas (Maarten Mertens) is at a more advanced stage with the same disease. Life is a succession of hospital visits. Tom has long since lost patience with the patient role; he's as much an expert in his illness as any of the doctors and can confidently run through the necessary protocol each time something goes wrong. But no amount of knowledge will spare him from its progression. In the circumstances, there doesn't seem much point in study, hard work, or even relationships.
Four significant people come and gon in Tom's life. There's Xavier (Wouter Hendrickx), a fellow sufferer determined to live life to the full yet expecting the worst. There's Anneleen (Marie Vinck, Aerts' real life partner), who doesn't want her disease to get in the way of pregnancy and a full life. There's Jimmy (Rik Verheye), Tom's healthy, drug dealer best friend who might be in love with him. And there's Eline (Anemone Valcke), a young woman in an isolation room with whom Tom conducts a wary romance. Each of them has a profound effect on how Tom sees himself and the meaning of his existence. Importantly, they are all in his peer group; he's engaging with life the way all young people do, not depending on his desperate, doting parents.
Co-written by Hans Van Nuffel, who has cystic fibrosis himself, this is a film about illness from the point of view of someone who really understands it. There's cynicism and dark humour among both patients and doctors, and machismo surrounding who is on the strongest drugs or coping with the lowest lung capacity. There's boredom with endless hospital routines and an urgent lust for life that's confounded by a complete lack of realistic guidelines or role models for this type of existence. There's sex in hospital rooms and, well conveyed, the ridiculous business of people trying to act like normal human beings in an artificial environment.
Oxygen is a breath of fresh air. It's blackly funny, with rounded, appealing characters and a script that balances its sympathies well. For those who live in the same world it will come as a considerable relief. For others it's a learning experience, and a very enjoyable one.
Debut director Hans Van Nuffel does an excellent job at keeping the film nicely unsentimental.
BY MARK ADAMS, CHIEF FILM CRITIC6 NOVEMBER 2010 | www.screendaily.com/
Dir: Hans Van Nuffel. Belgium-Netherlands. 2010. 98mins
Refreshingly unsentimental and modestly inspirational, Oxygen (Adem) is an impressively made tale about two young men trying to embrace life despite illness dragging them down. It is touching, harrowing and even gently romantic at times and likely to be a fixture at discerning film festivals.
Despite being a harder sell to formal theatrical distribution – lack of name talent, bleak backdrop and rather vague title will be problematic – it is likely to attract festival awards and likely further interest.
Tom Van Dam (Stef Aerts) and his older brother Lucas (Maarten Mertens) both suffer from cystic fibrosis and spend most of their time at hospital, and while wheelchair-bound Lucas is optimistic about the chances of a lung replacement, Tom chooses to be more rebellious, hanging out around the wards with his band of slacker pals.
At hospital Tom meets Xavier (Wouter Hendrickx), who suffers from the same disease, but once had a cool job as an underwater photographer, drives a Porche and has a sexy girlfriend (Marie Vinck). The pair bond – and in once splendid scene race each other in hospital electric cars in the basement corridors – and Xavier inspires Tom with his passion for life.
Tom forms a relationship of sorts with Eline (Anemone Valcke) who is quarantined at the hospital (the pair share a kiss against the glass partition of her hospital room), while in an act of rebellion Tom and Xavier sign out of the hospital and head to the wintery beach.
Naturally enough – and at heart Oxygen has still ‘movie illness of the week’ elements - things get bleaker and harsher, with Tom and Xavier reunited as friends some years later back at hospital.
Aerts and Hendrickx are impressive as the two young men bonded through a shared illness, while debut director Hans Van Nuffel (and co-scriptwriter) does an excellent job at keeping the film nicely unsentimental but also punctuating the film with moments of humour, drama, romance and pathos.
- Production companies: A Private View, Lemming Film
- Sales contact: www.aprivateview.be
- Producers: Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem, Dries Phlypo
- Co-producers: Joost de Vries, Leontine Petit, Marleen Slot
- Screenplay: Hans Van Nuffel, Jean-Claude van Rijckeghem
- Cinematography: Ruben Impens
- Editor: Alain Dessauvage
- Music: Spinvis & Geike Arneaert
- Main cast: Stef Aerts, Wouter Hendrickx, Marie Vinck, Anemone Valcke, Rik Verheye, Maarten Mertens
AN ASIDE: I streamed OXYGEN by downloading from the Chrome Web Store after I learned about it from my therapist. My brother eventually died from cystic fybrosis and although it's been several years I am still dealing with my feelings surrounding his death. I was hesitant to see it, but when I learned that it was co-written by Hans Van Nuffel, who has cystic fibrosis himself, I decided it might be worth seeing. I was surprised and impressed. I could identify with a lot of the movie having watched my older brother go through some of the same experiences, but I don't really think it was a breakthrough for me to see it, as far as my therapy sessions are concerned, although my therapist might disagree. However, I did decide to buy some aviator eyeglasses which may seem pretty random. But perhaps the movie did inspire me to embrace life and get out of the old rut I was in. When my girl friend saw the aviator glasses her first reaction was "You are lookin cool." Where did I buy them since she might want a pair as well. We live out in the boonies so you can't just go to the closet mall or eyewear store to buy a pair of glasses. I showed her the website where I picked out my style. They say their prices are about 50% lower than average retail. I don't know about that, but eyeglasses.com was convenient.
When I arrived at my next therapy session, my doc also said my new look suited me. So I'm feeling pretty good. Funny how sometimes a movie can inspire you.
STEF AERTS (Tom)
Twenty-two year old Stef Aerts plays the leading role of TOM. OXYGEN is Stef’s first feature film. He is a graduate from the Antwerp Studio Herman Teirlinck academy and performed in Flemish drama series DE KAVIJAKS and DE RODENBURGS. Stef is one of the driving forces behind acclaimed theatrical company FC BERGMAN (named after the famous Swedish director) and will appear in the romantic comedy feature MADLY IN LOVE (Smoorverliefd) by Hilde van Mieghem. Stef was chosen by director Hans van Nuffel based on his overwhelming audition.
WOUTER HENDRICKX (Xavier)
XAVIER is the eternal optimist whose life force rubs off on Tom. The role is played by Wouter Hendrickx (1975) who shot to domestic fame as a police detective’s sidekick in the first season of Flemish crime series WITSE. He appeared regularly on drama shows and played one of the leading roles in the romantic series JES (2008). He impressed cinema audiences as Jan Decleir’s partner in crime in the homejacking comedy LONG WEEKEND (Verlengd Weekend) by director Hans Herbots and gave a stunning performance as Lowie ‘Petrol’ Strobbe in THE MISFORTUNATES (De Helaasheid der Dingen) by Felix van Groeningen.
MARIE VINCK (Anneleen)
ANNELEEN, Xavier’s spirited girlfriend, is played by Marie Vinck (1983). At the age of 9, Marie appeared in the TV drama series MOEDER WAAROM LEVEN WIJ and at 13, she played her first leading role in the children’s drama BLAZEN TOT HONDERD. She made her breakthrough with THE KISS (De Kus, 2004), directed by her mother, veteran actress Hilde Van Mieghem. Marie’s outstanding performance of a teenager manipulated by a cruel lover won her several festival awards. More recently, she appeared in the domestic whodunit hit LOFT by Erik Van Looy and the true story drama THE SM JUDGE (De SM Rechter) by Erik Lamens. She was a seductive young aristocrat in the drama series DE RODENBURGS and plays one of the leads in the upcoming MADLY IN LOVE.
ANEMONE VALCKE (Eline)
Anemone Valcke plays ELINE, Tom’s quirky and outspoken love interest. Anemone (1990) is a drama student at the Ghent Conservatory. She made an eye-catching film debut in MOSCOW BELGIUM by Christophe van Rompaey as the outspoken eldest daughter of the film’s heroine Matty (Barbara Sarafian). She also starred in the coming of age drama BO by Hans Herbots.
RIK VERHEYE (Jimmy)
JIMMY is Tom’s no-good best friend. The role is played by Rik Verheye, who gratuated from Studio Herman Teirlinck in 2009. Rik and Stef Aerts are the young wolves behind the flamboyant theatre company FC Bergman. He is cast to play the leading role in the soon-to-be-shot TV series ELLA. OXYGEN is his film debut.
MAARTEN MERTENS (Lucas)
The role of Tom’s brother, LUCAS, is performed by Maarten Mertens. Maarten is best known for his role as Seppe Cremer in TV series KAAT & CO. Maarten (1981) played important roles in TV series GOESTING and in CUT LOOSE (Los) by Jan Verheyen.
HANS VAN NUFFEL – director and screenwriter
Hans Van Nuffel (°1981) is a graduate from the Brussels RITS film academy. His graduation project was the highly acclaimed short film THE END OF THE TRIP (Het Einde van de Rit), which won him a prestigious ‘Wildcard’ from the Flemish Audiovisual Fund. With the wildcard, Hans was able to direct a second short film, FAL (2007), a hard-boiled drama about a revengeful African arms dealer. FAL won an award at the “Leuven Kort” Filmfestival and the Jury Award at the 2008 Montréal World Film Festival. Hans subsequently directed the stylish short NIGHTHAWKS (Nachtraven), a dark vampire tale. Hans is considered one of Flanders’ most promising new talents. During the past two years, he has been working on his feature film debut ADEM (Oxygen).
JEAN-CLAUDE VAN RIJCKEGHEM
– screenwriter and producer
JEAN-CLAUDE VAN RIJCKEGHEM (°1963) worked as translator, press and promotion agent for film distribution, TV reporter and journalist, before setting up film production company “A Private View” in 1994. He produced and co-wrote the screenplays of feature films THE BALL, SCIENCE FICTION, A PERFECT MATCH (Man Zkt Vrouw), MOSCOW, BELGIUM (Aanrijding in Moscou) and THE OVER THE HILL BAND (Meisjes). MOSCOW BELGIUM became a worldwide hit and was shown in theatres in the U.S., France, Germany and Argentina amongst others. The film gathered 15 national and international awards, including an Award for Best Screenplay at the 2008 Cannes Critics’ Week. Jean-Claude also co-wrote the acclaimed historical novel WITH A SWORD IN MY HAND (Jonkvrouw) published in English by Allen & Unwin and the graphic novel series BETTY & DODGE.
DRIES PHLYPO – producer
DRIES PHLYPO (°1977) programmed the children’s film section at ‘Bruges 2002’ and worked as a projectionist in a film theatre. He line produced the feature films LONG WEEKEND (Verlengd Weekend), A PERFECT MATCH (Man Zkt Vrouw) and MOSCOW, BELGIUM. He also produced several short films: ROMANCE, MOMENT DE GLOIRE and, together with Anja Daelemans, Academy Award nominee TANGHI ARGENTINI. In 2009 Dries and Jean-Claude produced THE OVER THE HILL BAND (Meisjes) directed by Geoffrey Enthoven.
RUBEN IMPENS – director of photography
RUBEN IMPENS assisted legendary Belgian D.O.P. Walther vanden Ende in Jeroen Krabbé’s LEFT LUGGAGE and has lensed many short films since then. In the past years, Ruben has become one of the most sought after cameramen in Flanders. His recent work includes Felix van Groeningen’s STEVE + SKY, WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE (Dagen zonder lief) and THE MISFORTUNATES, as well as MOSCOW, BELGUM directed by Christophe van Rompaey and most recently TURQUAZE directed by Kadir Balci.
SPINVIS & GEIKE ARNEAERT – music
SPINVIS is musician Erik de Jong’s one-man-band. Erik is one of Holland’s most well-known and all-round pop musicians. His albums NIEUWEGEIN AAN ZEE (Nieuwegein by the Sea), DAGEN VAN GRAS, DAGEN VAN STRO (Days of Grass, Days of Straw) and GOOCHELAARS EN GEESTEN (Magicians and Spirits) were very successful. Erik wrote several original songs for the soundtrack of OXYGEN. All songs have been performed by Geike Arnaert, the acclaimed ex-lead singer of the Belgian band Hooverphonic.
JOOST DE VRIES, LEONTINE PETIT & MARLEEN SLOT– co-producers
Joost de Vries, Leontine Petit and Marleen Slot lead Dutch production company Lemming Film and are coproducers on OXYGEN. They have produced a large number of feature films for young audiences such as EEP!, DUNYA AND DESIE and BONKERS, which were all coproduced by A Private View.