Football "Supporters" Threaten Cinema Demolition, Squatters Invade Planet Hollywood Location, and An Old Philosopher Travels the World Again

(January 2001)

  • The 30th International Filmfestival Rotterdam (IFFR) opens its doors on January 24th and runs until February 4th. Three hundred films will be screened in 18 cinemas during the twelve days of the largest cultural event in Holland. "Filmmaker in Focus" this year will be Anne-Marie Miéville whose newest film "La Réconciliation" will also be premiering. Actors Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung of "In the Mood for Love" are among the luminaries visiting the festival. (Other invitees expected include, among a long list, Charlotte Rampling and Juliette Binoche.) Noted Czechoslovakian artist Jan Svankmajer's latest film "Otesánek" will be screened and there will also be a remarkable exhibition on show at the Chabot Museum with a selection of his work and that of his partner, Eva Svankmajerova. Next to the program of feature length films there are numerable short films, videos, CD-ROMs, exhibitions, stage performances, and dance parties scheduled. Further information concerning the festival and its various events is available on the festival site at www.filmfestivalrotterdam.com A second site organized by the "Volkskrant" newspaper and VPRO broadcasting system will be available for daily reports as they take place beginning on January 18th at: www.filmtijger.nl

  • The Dutch Film "Ajax - Where They Heard the Angels Singing" (see TGH reviews) enjoyed some notoriety during its preview screenings at the International Documentary Film Festival 2000, mostly resulting from the scene where Ghanese boys were, within a matter of seconds, either accepted as physical potentials for training or weeded out in rejection. After opening in Dutch cinemas, however, the tale of notoriety took on a completely different color. The city of Utrecht withdrew the film promptly when threatened by football "supporters" of the team FC Utrecht. These so-called "Supporters" (reportedly mostly hailing from the Utrecht club) feel that a film concerning an Amsterdam team shouldn't be screened or tolerated in other cities within the Netherlands and have therefore threatened to tear cinemas apart and endanger the safety of management and employees. After a discussion with the police, management in Utrecht decided to withdraw the film from the cinema. Rotterdam decided not to show it at all when they were also threatened. The Hague followed suit by keeping it out of their cinemas. Groningen finally made a move to screen it when once were assured by local police that measures would be put into place to secure the safety of their employees. All this makes one wonder where the freedom of opinion lies and exactly where the difference must be drawn between a "supporter" and a "hooligan." (Interesting to note that later in the month an eruption of soccer partisanship during a match between Ajax and FC Twente, supposedly unrelated to the film, resulted in some \$100,000 worth of damage at the Amsterdam Arena stadium.)

    It's a Wonderful Life
    ©Republic Pictures
    photo courtesy Netherlands Filmmuseuml

  • The Netherlands Film Museum is still showing the old American tearjerker and Christmas classic "It's a Wonderful Life" with James Stewart and Donna Reed (which began screening there in December) until January 7th. Check for dates and times: www.filmmuseum.nl

  • Holland is the first country to introduce a new uniformly categorized classification system ("Kijkwijzer") for audiovisual productions. This system, to be introduced in Dutch cinemas as of February 22nd, is meant to alert parents and guardians to the suitability of any particular film, videoproduction, television show, or computer game. Pictograms will make it possible for even the slowest of adults to see immediately what potential danger might possibly lurk beyond the screen, whether it be in the field of violence, sex, drugs, or discrimination. It would seem that, after years of discussion among film professionals reflecting upon the absurd rules of the Hayes
    It's a Wonderful Life
    ©Republic Pictures
    photo courtesy Netherlands Filmmuseuml
    Commission in America, the people of Holland (80%, according to a 1999 survey) have decided to institute their own warning system (somewhat similar to the V-chip) almost simultaneously with approaching dissolution of their own system of film censorship. Curious, isn't it?

  • Dutch Film Day (Dag van de Nederlandse Film) will take place at the Cinemec cinema in Ede, Holland on January 18th. This meeting place for professionals from the Dutch film world and students from various schools has scheduled screenings and workshops which will be attended by leading actors and filmmakers. Discussions of the films screened are intended to take place between participants who have worked on the productions and the younger members of their future audiences.

  • "Winternachten" (Winternights) is a festival of writers, poets, and cineasts that will take place at the Theatre on the Spui and the Cinematheek Haags Filmhuis in The Hague, Holland, from the 19th till the 21st of January. This sixth edition deals with themes of mobility and migration. Films being screened are "Main Reef Road" (1999), Nick Hofmeyer's road movie about present day South Africa and Oudalaj Prassaat's "Brothers in Trouble" showing a group of Pakistani squatters in Yorkshire, England. Further info:www.winternachten.nl

  • The old Cineac Theatre was invaded one Sunday in December by a group of squatters who want to exploit it as a community center with cinema, café, and library. Their standpoint is that most of the smaller movie theatres (art houses) in Amsterdam are, one by one, disappearing and they would like to see this centrally located historical building (dating from 1936) return to its original function. Despite being registered as a monument, this edifice was reconstructed into the (in)famous "Planet Hollywood - Amsterdam." The bankruptcy of the restaurant and gift shop (after only three years) might have been foreseen and possibly avoided if only the foreign investors had taken more serious consideration of the tastes and pocketbooks of the general Dutch public. Whether Mr. Caransa (one of the investors in the PH Adam) will appreciate this concept of the squatters remains to be seen. One might believe that he would prefer to have his own deluxe restaurant and lounge bar located there, now that the old building has been renovated and there are no longer remain any "monumental" barriers remaining to modern exploitation. (Faithful TGH accessors and readers might remember the very first Green Hartnett Buzz a là Schwarzenegger opening? For the unfaithful>> This report can still be found under August 1996 and spans the entire TGH Buzz of the Month.)

  • Some of you may still be awaiting further news regarding the toys inspired by cult silent films such as "Nosferatu" and "Doctor Caligari" that were mentioned earlier in September's Buzz this year. Well, you can now take a gander yourself by checking it out www.aztechtoyz.com Although it's slightly to late to purchase these "Silent Screamers" for a Christmas or Halloween gift, they're surely charming enough to place somewhere near your own computer to ward off (other) evil spirits.

  • Peter Stein's "Faust," which enjoyed its premiere at the now defunct Hanover Expo this year, has transferred to the Arena in Berlin for performances until July (and will transfer thereafter to Vienna until December). Bruno Ganz, who suffered injuries shortly after the opening in Hanover, has rejoined the cast. Goethe's play, which took 60 years to write, takes about 13 hours to perform in a quick reading. The story of a man struggling to reach far beyond the limits of human potential, this majestic play follows him through defeat, disillusionment, devastation, hopefulness, and death. Only performed to date in its entirety by the Steiner eurhythmy group in Germany every four years, the brand new performance of Stein's "Faust" heralds the first full-length professional interpretation on stage. (Even the unforgettable English language version starring Simon Callow performed in Edinburgh and London some years ago only took seven hours onstage.) Faust I & II, in this new version, is performed as a 20 hour marathon (during two days) as well as in six parts on six evenings (Faust I in two parts and Faust II in four parts, all on separate evenings). All this is made possible by 35 actors, 15 accompanying artists, and a 30-man technical crew working on two stages that are used alternately. The hi-tech manifestation includes the play on a proscenium stage as well as in a Greek amphitheater with elevators for the Gods, trap doors leading to Hell, promenade audience participation, and an enticing invitation to a vintner's feast in a "Gothic Hall."

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