Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Director Profile: BORGMAN's Alex van Warmerdam

Since Alex van Warmerdam's first film in 1986, Abel, he has been considered one of the most important filmmakers in the Netherlands. Van Warmerdam wrote, directed and starred in Abel, a strange little story about a man who hasn't left his house in 10 years. Correction: he hasn't left his parents house in 10 years. His mother spoils him, his father wants him out, he tries to cut flies in half with giant scissors... and hilarity ensues. The film won a Golden Calf for Best Film and Best Director at the Netherlands Film Festival and was named the Best Dutch Film of the eighties by the Nederlandse Journalisten Kring (Dutch Journalists Circuit).

Abel still

In 1992, he released De Noorderlingen (The Northeners), an absurd story about a dysfunctional family: a sex addicted father, an overly religious mother, and a son who escapes all of that in a fantasy world. De Noorderlingen, like Abel, was wildly successful in the Netherlands and was recently named as one of the 16 films featured in the Canon of Dutch Cinema.

Van Warmerdam's Grimm (2003) screened at the 2003 Toronto International Festival and was loosely (very loosely) based on a Brother's Grimm story. The film was almost indescribable by critics, with a lot of trademark van Warmerdam dark humour and bizarre plot lines.

In 2006, van Warmerdam's Ober (Waiter) made a huge splash. The film was about a disgruntled waiter having to deal with not only the world's worst customers but also a sick wife. It had its world premiere at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival and went on to open the Netherlands Film Festival, where it won two Golden Calf awards, and was later awarded a Golden Film (an award in the Netherlands to honour box office achievements).

Van Warmerdam's De Laatste Dagen van Emma Blank (The Last Days of Emma Blank) premiered in 2009, screening at both the Venice Film Festival's Venice Days and the Toronto International Film Festival and going on to win a Golden Calf for Best Screenplay. Again about a dysfunctional family and again incredibly dark, Emma Blank is about, well, dying Emma Blank and her family. Except they aren't so much her family as they are her servants. And if Emma Blank wants her family to do something--no matter how ridiculous, they do it. There's the inheritance to think about after all.

Borgman, van Warmerdam's latest film, is his own dark and unique take on the home invasion story. It was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where it also met with rave reviews. Most interesting to note, however, it is the first Dutch film to be featured in the main Cannes competition in 38 years.

While his darker than dark sense of humour might not be for everyone, we do hope you make room in your schedule for this very special, and very twisted, Dutch thriller.

BORGMAN Screening Times:
  • Wednesday, Sept 11th, 9:00 PM SCOTIABANK 1
  • Thursday, Sept 12th, 3:00 PM THE BLOOR HOT DOCS CINEMA

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