Julie Schroell

Luxembourg, 2019 / 82 min / Spanish OV with French subt. / Documentary

LuxFilmLab - 5th August
In the presence of producer Jésus Gonzalez (Calach Films)

A canal project in Nicaragua linking the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean raises questions on identity for the people living by the San Juan river.

The mythic San Juan River located between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in Nicaragua, symbolises 500 years of colonisation and exploitation of resources and has seen over 70 canal projects fail. Now, a Chinese businessman is attempting to control the interoceanic route that Columbus had desperately been looking for when he reached the “New World”. The project raises both discontent and hopes for a better life among the local population. As the Chinese-Nicaraguan canalisation plans start taking shape, actor and teacher Yemn is returning to his native village El Castillo to start a youth theatre group, a sanctuary for open discussion and critical thinking. While  their families struggle with poverty and are often forced to migrate to neighbouring Costa Rica in order to make ends meet, the kids of the village rehearse a play about their river’s history and the numerous travellers that tried to control it. Around the play, the young actors reflect on their own identity, the region's past, as well as the future of their country in the context of the new Chinese canal project.

Wed 05/08 20:30 Ciné Utopia ES OV with FR subt. Public

“The first independent documentary from Luxembourg filmmaker Julie Schroell leaves a strong impression which reveals the talents of its director […] Julie Schroell always favours suggestion over frontal denunciation. She gives her eminently political (and environmentalist) documentary a lyrical tone, sometimes even evanescent, close to the fable. This is especially felt in the slow pans of the river, to the sound of a soft melody. […] River Tales is what we might call a precious and necessary documentary. Its delicate and complex aesthetic also makes it a beautiful moment of cinema.” Guilhem Caillard, Cineuropa, 16/03/2020

  • Peripheral Visions Award, Galway Film Fleadh, 2020 (Ireland)
  • Best Environmental Doc, Close:Up Edinburgh Docufest, 2019 (United Kingdom)
Cast & Credits
Julie Schroell
Frank Pineda
François Martig, Capucine Courau, Michel Schillings
Pascal Karier, Aaron Ahrends (Say Yes Dog)
Calach Films
Loufok Productions
Calach Films

Julie Schroell is a filmmaker and audiovisual artist living in Berlin. Born in Luxembourg, she holds a double master’s degree in Contemporary History, as well as Film Studies and Screenwriting from the Université Libre de Bruxelles. She started her career by directing a series of commissioned films, such as The Farmer’s Blues (2011), a documentary in which she set out to portray the remaining farmers of her home country, selected at numerous festivals around the world. She has since directed and produced several documentaries for major broadcasters, including RTL Luxembourg, France Télévisions, RTBF and Al Jazeera. River Tales (2019) is her first independent feature-length documentary.

  • 2019 – Cuentos del Río (documentary)
  • 2016 – Génération Quoi ? Europe (documentary)
  • 2016 – Parcours du cœur battant (court-métrage documentary)
  • 2015 – routwäissgro: Këmmer dech em däin Dreck (1 episode of the documentary TV series)
  • 2015 – Mister Rocket (And His Magnetic Friends) (short)
  • 2011 – De Bauereblues (documentary)