PARADISO is an intense drama that delves into the complexities of family dynamics and societal challenges. The story revolves around Ricardo, who borrows his parents’ car to celebrate his eldest son Jayden’s birthday, only to face criticism from his father. Ricardo is estranged from his wife, Joyce, who is living with her parents along with their children. As Joyce and Ricardo navigate their strained relationship and financial difficulties, their children, especially Jayden, find themselves caught in the turmoil.

The narrative unfolds with Ricardo and Joyce’s differing approaches to parenting and dealing with their circumstances, reflecting the broader societal issues of poverty and systemic failures. The story is set in Geleen, a location chosen for its historical context and the pervasive sense of generational poverty following the closure of local coal mines. This setting adds depth to the characters’ struggles, grounding their personal conflicts in a larger socio-economic backdrop.

The film employs a documentary style combined with scripted elements to capture the raw, unfiltered reality of the characters’ lives. It highlights the impact of societal neglect on individual lives, particularly those on the margins. Paradiso aims to be both touching and honest, portraying the harsh realities of life without offering false hope or romanticism.

Martijn Maria Smits, known for his impactful films like C’est déjà l’été (Tiger Award Nominee) and Waldstille (San Sebastian New Directors competition), brings his expertise in portraying raw human emotions and social realism to PARADISO. His unique blend of fiction and documentary styles continues to push the boundaries of conventional storytelling, creating a deeply immersive experience for the audience.

Original title
Running time
90 minutes
HD video
Screen Ratio
Dutch broadcaster
Year of release
Martijn Maria Smits
Wout Conijn
Director of Photography
Frank van den Eeden
Rube van der Hammen
Sound Recording
Yoeri Verspecht
Sound Design
Vincent Sinceretti
Ernst Reijseger
Production Design
Vera van der Sandt
Visual Effects
Thaumar Rep
Realized with support from
the Dutch Film Fund, FilmFonds incentive, CoBo, Limburg Film Fund, NTR and Imagine