INSTINCT the directorial debut of Halina Reijn selected for Toronto International Film Festival 2019

Today the Toronto International Film Festival has announced that INSTINCT, the debut film of Halina Reijn, will have its North American premiere at the festival. The film will be shown as part of the Contemporary World Cinema Program. This Program is dedicated to the best films from around the world with a focus on non-English art-house films. In Toronto INSTINCT will compete for the annual “Grolsch People’s Choice Award”. Yesterday, the film produced by Topkapi Films had its world premiere during the prestigious Piazza Grande screening at the International Film Festival of Locarno. Last month, it was announced that INSTINCT will also be the opening film of the Netherlands Film Festival.


Halina Reijn and Carice van Houten, who coproduced the film with their production company Man Up are proud: “After our European premiere during the Locarno Film Festival, we are overwhelmed that the prestigious Toronto International Film Festival selected INSTINCT for its north American premiere. We could not have dreamed that this intimate film would have such a gigantic stage. We are grateful and happy. And nervous!


In INSTINCT Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones) plays the experienced psychologist Nicoline, who is starting a new job at a penal institution. In the institution she meets Idris, played by Marwan Kenzari (Wolf, Aladdin), a sex offender who has been responsible for a number of serious crimes. After five years of treatment he is about to go on his first unaccompanied probation. His team of practitioners is enthusiastic about his development and behaviour, but newcomer Nicoline does not trust him an inch. She tries to push his probation. Idris tries his hardest to convince Nicoline of his good intentions, but he slowly but surely transforms into the manipulative man she saw in him from the beginning. A powerplay emerges between the two and Nicole, in spite of her knowledge and experience, lets herself be trapped completely.

Supporting roles are played by Marie-Mae van Zuilen, Ariane Schluter, Betty Schuurman, Pieter Embrechts, Tamar van den Dop, Robert de Hoog, Juda Goslinga and Akwasi Owusu Ansah. INSTINCT was written by Esther Gerritsen based on an idea by Halina Reijn inspired by true events. Gerritsen is known for her novels De TroosterRoxy and Dorst. She also co-wrote the feature film Nena for which she earned a Golden Calf nomination.

Halina Reijn has played many iconic roles in theatre (ObsessionLa Voix HumaineHedda Gabler) as well as film (Zus & ZoZwartboekValkyrie), and has been signed to Ivo van Hove’s ITA since 2003. In 2005 she debuted her novel Prinsesje Nooit genoeg and in 2013 she published the bestseller Antiglamour, co-written with Carice van Houten. She has also written many columns, among which her weekly column in the Flamish Saturday paper De Morgen. INSTINCT is her first film as a director.


INSTINCT is produced by Topkapi Films in co-production with Man Up and BNNVARA. The film was realized with the support of The Netherlands Film Fund, the Netherlands Film Production Incentive and CoBO. Distributor September Film will release the film in theaters on October 3rd.