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Yuri on the phone

Our award-winning film ‘Yuri on the Phone’ directed by Rene Nuijens is now online! Watch it above! With killer animations by stellar Celia Rosa and design studio Addikt! Edited by pulsar Will Judge!

In 1961, Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space. Every man wanted to be him. Every woman wanted to be his wife. Now 55 years later, one lady’s passion for Yuri is as strong as ever…

Featuring Serbian film diva Rada Đuričin, ‘Yuri on the Phone’ shows us that space has enough place for all our hearts. It’s a story about love without borders. How obsession can be triggered by a single smile. How enduring passion can fill all voids.

Experience beauty, poetry, borscht and lift-off in this production from Road to Gagarin – makers of the multiple award-winning ‘Yuri Gagarin Goose Chase’ and the ‘First Yugoslavian Cosmonaut’…

Together, let’s reach for the stars!

(If you don’t have the attention span for this 6-minute movie, watch the trailer HERE for which I did my very best ‘voice of God’ voice-over impersonation.)

MIAMI LAUREL WINNER SHORT SEP 2015ISTANBUL FILMFESTIVAL  Laurel - Istanbul (1)

- Nominated at the BARCELONA PLANET FILM FESTIVAL, Feb 2016, Barcelona (ESP).
- WINNING AWARD at FILM FESTIVAL CINEVANA ISTANBUL 2016, Istanbul (TRK).
- Official selection for the TEXAS ULTIMATE SHORTS, January 2016 (USA).
- Official selection for the HOLLYWOOD SKY FILM FESTIVAL, 2016 (USA).
- Official selection for the BROKEN KNUCKLE FILM FEST 2015 (USA).
- WINNER MIAMI INDEPENDENT SHORT FILM FESTIVAL August & September 2015 (USA).
- Official selection for BLOW UP, CHICAGO’S INTERNATIONAL ARTHOUSE FILMFEST (USA).
- Official selection for the KINOLIT FILMFESTIVAL, 2015, St. Petersburg (RUS).
- Official selection for LINEA D’OMBRO, FESTIVAL CULTURA GIOVANI, Salerno (IT).
- Official selection for the 2015 DC SHORT, Washington (USA).
- Official selection for the 2015 LOS ANGELES CINEFEST, LA (USA).
- Film looping at: FOTOGRAFIA EUROPEA 2015 at MUSEUM REGGIO EMILIA (IT).
- Official selection for the 2015 FMK INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, Pordenone (IT)
- Official selection for the 2015 ROMA CINEMA DOC, Rome (IT).
- Official selection for the 2015 REGINA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, Regina (CAN)

Posted: March 30, 2016 at 12:29 pm.

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Stoned Tourists: R.I.P.? A YouTube tribute…

It’s currently a pretty sweet deal for tourists in the Netherlands. They can strut through the front door of a coffeeshop, smugly engage in a simple transaction, and then smoke the sweet smoke. They can exit the same front door: wiggly, wasted and most importantly — for they have done no wrong — free of paranoia. The glitch is that the wobbly law that allows them this simple pleasure neglected to deal with how the wacky weed got there in the first place. The ‘back door’ where the produce arrives by the kilo is still a gateway to an illegal distribution system.

It’s a typical situation in the Netherlands. It may not be legal but it’s ‘tolerated’. This is why the Dutch national government has been regularly re-introducing the debate of how to deal with this situation — and all those silly, stoned tourists. Whenever this debate reared its head an editor from a foreign newspaper would call me and ask ‘Hey what’s going on? Are they really closing the coffeeshops?’ And then I would have to kill any work opportunity by going ‘No it’s all just talk’. But now the national coalition seems more serious. Crazy. But serious. They plan to institutionalise a ‘weed pass’ whereby only locals would have access to coffeeshops. Were these zealots stoned when they came up with this idea? Now don’t get me wrong, I would love to have a weed pass. I could then show it off to friends back in Canada so they can go: ‘A weed pass!?! You’re kidding right?!?Continue Reading…

Posted: May 31, 2011 at 1:53 pm.

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Amsterdam Chase Scenes

For some reason I’m enjoying chase scenes set in Amsterdam. Perhaps I am being chased? Or am I chasing something? Or I just want to experience this city in a more speedy way? Regardless, I’ll try not to read too much into it.


The oldest clip comes from Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (1940). Since he was filming it at the dawn of WWII, Hitchcock was forced to ask Hollywood set-builders to build a fake Amsterdam complete with ‘a few hotels, a Dutch windmill and a bit of the Dutch countryside’. It resulted in an 80-metre windmill and a 10-acre reconstruction of an Amsterdam square (with Hotel L’Europe becoming ‘Hotel Europe’), complete with sewer for the simulated storm scenes. The cameraman sent to get background footage in the real Amsterdam lost his equipment when his ship got torpedoed. But he did eventually film the Jordaan for the chase scene. Unfortunately after a jarring left-turn, the viewer lands in a countryside with an oddly Spanish-styled windmill (sadly, this lack of research also flawed the windmill scene in the South Park movie’s ‘Kyle’s Mom is a Bitch’ segment). However Foreign Correspondent does retain a realistic sense of location thanks to all the cheese references. Continue Reading…

Posted: May 25, 2011 at 2:12 pm.

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328 stories, 10 bios

328logo

328 Stories is a production house for some of the more happening film-makers in the Netherlands and beyond. They aim to produce 328 stories every year. I helped out by writing 10. Check out their website, click on a ‘storyteller’ and then scroll over their name. There’s a pop-up in which I tried to tell the storyteller’s story in less than 90 words. It was a fun gig. It  also reminded me that there are still many, many, many stories out there. So listen people: let’s go out there and nail them!

Posted: May 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm.

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Ed van der Elsken: Hunting in Amsterdam

 
Photographer/film-maker Ed van der Elsken (1925-1990) used Amsterdam as his  ’hunting ground’. And what he shot on the streets of Amsterdam back in his day, is very different from what can be shot today: it was more chaotic, and less UNESCO-acclaimed world heritage site. Van der Elsken was also into jazz, bikinghippiesParis, punkstravel and filming his own decline to death from cancer. He was old school.

Posted: April 3, 2011 at 2:09 pm.

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Klik! Amsterdam Animation Festival

 

Until 19 September. Klik!

Posted: September 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm.

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Unfold Amsterdam hits the streets

Unfold_Vol01_01_COVERUnfold Amsterdam has officially hit the streets. Every two weeks, Amsterdammers will be able to pick up this free English-language poster/mag highlighting the work of local artists/designers and covering the best of what’s going down around town. Hopefully it will fill the gap left since the demise of alternative weekly Amsterdam Weekly. In fact, Unfold Amsterdam arises from the luminous efforts of some of the more luminary ex-Weekly staff and freelancers. So I dig it indeed. Especially this edition’s poster by Simon Wald-Lasowski. So check, check, check it out — or at least put your finger on the pulse by checking regularly at their sweet-looking website.

Also keep your eyes out for the Unfold special edition covering the mighty Klik Amsterdam animation festival coming up on 15-19 September.

Posted: September 15, 2010 at 10:00 am.

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Amsterdam As Chill Murder Capital

 

BEST. COPSHOW. EVER. It’s called Baantjer and it’s set in Amsterdam, a gloriously scenic Amsterdam where it rarely rains and its inhabitants – a rich interactive tapestry of cops, penose, squatpunks, Suri-Vlaamse hipsters, Yugo mafia types, e-clubbers, admen, real estate speculators, prostitutes and fishmongers – all run the risk of being murdered at any moment.

Happily those Amsterdammers that do get offed can rest in peace with the knowledge that police detective De Cock (‘ceeooceekaa‘) – played by Piet Römer using a static minimalism that he fine-tuned as a celebrated interpreter of Beckett plays – will unmask the perpetrator through sheer doggedness and a Zen-like tolerance of all who he encounters within the victim’s milieu. Watching Baantjer is like putting on an old comfortable sweater: one that begins with a bloody corpse and then ends with a flashback of the bloody act while De Cock explains to his wife and colleagues, during a gezellig dinner at his home, how he managed to put his finger on the pulseless pulse.

But the most charming part of the show occurs about 37 minutes in when De Cock goes to his favourite Red-Light local (Cafe Lowietje which is in fact located on  a very quiet Jordaan street, 3e Goudsbloemdwarsstraat) to ruminate over a ‘cognackje’ and to shoot the shit with his pal the bartender who acts as a local gossip encyclopaedia. At one point, a usually inane comment from this bartender triggers a dramatic swoop in the soundtrack and a subtle glimmer in De Cock’s eye that works to tell the now happily hypnotized viewer: EUREKA! Other recurring elements that makes the show more about blissful familiarity than elbow-chewing suspense are: De Cock’s smartass sidekick Vledder nursing a hangover, De Cock’s petty-minded boss screaming ‘Get Out!’ after De Cock subtly makes him aware of his own stupidity, and product placement in the form of Yakult yoghurt drink (in earlier seasons) or Lipton Cup-A-Soup (in later seasons). As bonus, the acting is in fact quite fine and the script quite well researched – though the latter is probably aided by the fact that many of the shows  are based on the books by a former Warmoesstraat cop Appie Baantjer (books that in the English translations curiously transform ‘De Cock’ into ‘De Kok’).  

But the real star of the show remains the setting: Amsterdam rarely looks sweeter. It makes you proud to be an Amster-burger. Perhaps it’s just the pacing: the calm slow pans of gables, water, parks and trams that actually hold to the speed limit. It’s an idealized vision of Amsterdam you can turn to when you are too lazy to bike through the rain to see it for yourself.

RTL4 is currently prescribing the Xanax of copshows on Saturday nights.

Posted: August 3, 2010 at 12:20 pm.

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Anvil! The Story of Anvil

Believe the hype. Anvil! The Story of Anvil is indeed an amazing documentary — Spinal Tap come to life. Some of the lines are just so perfect, it’s hard to believe it’s not scripted. But once you meet these guys you know that it is not scripted just very very true. Actually this film would probably be too painful to watch if you don’t know that  this  documentary finally brought their career to life and they’re doing some major touring again. Oh Canada!   So just download it, rent it or go this week to the Melkweg Cinema  for the full volume impact.

Posted: February 6, 2010 at 10:19 am.

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Rain (Joris Ivens, 1929)

Ah yes, Amsterdam in the rain. Very relaxing.  This city is as beautiful in black-and-white as it is in colour.

Posted: January 21, 2010 at 12:52 pm.

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