Director's Statement

Directors Statement

This urban-city film, the plot and its characters immediately stimulated my imagination. It deals with important aspects of human behaviour like prejudices, intolerance, sexual passion, survival, hope, disillusion and the fact that one can not get free from ones roots.

Furthermore, the film shows the life in the modern, western metropolitan versus the life in the ancient, Moroccan Kasbah and the constant streams of legal or illegal migrants, inspired by economics and tourism.

The feeling I got by reading this film script about our lives of today simply overwhelmed me. The script is original, European but also universal. Set in a divers landscape, 'Amsterdam' offers an energetic, roller coaster ride of ever changing, emotional frames of mind.

Like many theatre directors before me I am eager to expand my range of story telling, and like them I have always been highly fascinated by the visual language that sets cinema apart from all other art forms.

To mention only some theatre directors who successfully turned to film: Luchino Visconty, Ingmar Bergman, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Mike Nichols and Patrice Chéreau.

Where in theatre plays the dialogue is most dominant and in the end the actors have the supremacy, in cinema the visual language is most dominant and the director has the supremacy for working with this language and creating the overall, emotional impact of the film through the editing.

While in theatre plays every performance is a slightly different and unique experience, it is in the editing where films become 'their final, fixed and unique reality'.

My work as a theatre director is often characterised by extremes. The performances I direct can be very tough and aggressive, but also rather tender and romantic. And I always show compassion with the characters involved.

In my career, I successfully transformed a number of film scripts for the theatre, but 'Amsterdam' can't be one of them for it is impossible to tell this complex story on stage. But 'Amsterdam' is a story I most definitely want to tell.

Like the city of Los Angeles, I want to show Amsterdam as a grand European, somewhat unidentifiable and mythical metropolitan where no one is safe.

Furthermore I want to show the city's dramatic change in mood from day to night and vice versa.

In the daytime and skin-deep the city looks like a comfortable, tourists place to be, while at night the city shows its real face: a frightful, urban jungle where ones life is actually in constant danger.

To emphasise the impact of this harsh world I will show the life in Morocco as the complete opposite.

In the crowded alleyways of the ancient Kasbah you get the feeling you are 2000 years back in time. And its inhabitants are taking care of one another in a way that is extinct in the mythical city of Amsterdam.

For me, the Moroccan and illegal immigrant Khaled is the main character of the film. His story drives all the other stories forward. While Khaled is secretly busy trying to make his dream come trough in a contingent where he is not wanted, his family is desperate to find him and he is hunted down, first by the police and in the end also by his former, criminal accomplices.

Concerning the spoken language in the film: I want to stay as close to reality as possible. The different nationalities in the film therefore speak their own language when they speak to one another. When they speak to someone other then their own nationalist, they speak English as we all often do when we are abroad.

In 'Amsterdam' there are four separate sections to consider: the exterior of city, the Kasbah, the interiors and the car accident. As I already mentioned, the European City Amsterdam is an overwhelming, modern, almost unidentifiable, harsh and mythical place. Opposite the city, the Kasbah expresses an old, safe, tranquil, loving and almost dreamlike atmosphere.

The interiors on the other hand are built sets where reality meets with surrealism, as seen in for example 'In the mood for love' from director Wong Kar Way. The car accident is to be seen as the isolated and climactic moment of truth where the destiny of all the people involved makes a dramatic U-turn.

Considering the photography, I am looking for a strong collaboration with a director of photography to create a powerful, visual language by which I can make the ever changing emotional frames of minds of the characters involved a physical experience for the audience.

Ivo van Hove

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