TorinoFilmLab - Training, development, Funding



Thessa Meijer



16-year-old Zoe, also called “Zootje” (Dutch diminutive meaning “little mess”), is an awkward introvert who avoids everything that could put her in the spotlight. Then one day, while eating a tuna sandwich at the outdoor swimming pool, Zoe is attacked by a tongue-eating louse.

The parasite does not only replace her tongue, it also triggers an unapologetic side of her character. This new Zootje, who now insists on being called “Zoe”, is very much in touch with her instincts. She is more verbal and seeks thrills. But whenever the parasite falls asleep after a satisfying tour de force, Zootje has to clean up Zoe’s mess.

As her new tongue is threatening both her physical health and her position as a lifeguard, as well as pushing her father to the edge of a midlife crisis, it becomes more difficult to hide. But the curse is also a power and Zootje might not want to get rid of it. In the end, she has to decide whether to let go of the creature or live with a dark secret that increasingly
takes control of her.


"Tuna" is inspired by a true horror from nature called
Parasitism. A terrifying relationship between species where one organism, the parasite, lives on or inside another organism, the host, causing it harm.

This phenomenon fascinates me extremely. When looking at parasitism, I see similarities with the destructive mechanisms in ourselves and in human relationships. Both the way some parasites take over their hosts’ brains, as well as the physical symptoms coming from an infection (anaemia, lack of nutrition), remind me of the effects of an eating disorder or addiction.

Through Zoe and her parasite, I explore the friction between dependency and autonomy, between destruction and an insatiable hunger for life. "Tuna"‘s “cotton candy horror” style enables me to tell a story where people might feel repulsed at certain times, but that is packed in humour and soft aesthetics, making it bittersweet and digestible. In future seasons I hope to introduce more teenagers with parasite infections.

When lifeguard Zoe is attacked by a tongue-eating parasite, her teenage angst is put on edge.
Thessa Meijer

Scriptwriter, Film Director