International Competition Publications / index / International Competition

Amsterdam Global Village

Director, Photography: Johan van der Keuken
Editing: Barbara Hin, Johan van der Keuken
Sound: Noshka van der Lely
Producer: Claudia Weinbeck
Production Company, Source: Pieter van Huystee Film & TV
Keizersgracht 784, 1017 EC Amsterdam
Phone: 31-20-4210606 / Fax: 31-20-6386255
THE NETHERLANDS / 1996 / Dutch, English, Russian etc. /
Color / 35mm (1:1.38) / 245 min

Johan van der Keuken

Born in 1938 in Amsterdam. Started photography at the age of 12, and published his first book of photographs We Are 17 in 1955. He won a scholarship and studied at France's Institut des Hautes Etudes Cin?atographique (IDHEC, National Film Institute) in Paris, and directed his first documentary Sunday in 1960. Established himself as the Netherland's leading documentary filmmaker with his films including Blind Child (1964), Big Ben / Ben Webster in Europe (1967), The White Castle (1973), Flat Jungle (1978), The Way South (1980-81), I Love $ (1986), Brass Unbound (1992-93), His The Eye Above the Well (1988) was awarded one of the Two Runner-Up Prizes at 1989 Yamagata Festival. Also known as a film critic and a photographer.


In the wake of the explosive increase of world migration after the Cold War, behind the mask of being the capitals of nations, large cities are becoming racial melting pots. This is particularly true in Europe, where the EC system is erasing national boundaries between its countries, and especially in the case of Amsterdam: a pivotal city connecting traffic from Western, Eastern and Northern Europe. Guided by a Moroccan born moped courier, we are shown into the lives of Amsterdammers. From a Bolivian-Dutch couple expecting a child, a Chechen entrepreneur, roller-blading youngsters, and a Bosnian rockband, to a Jewish parent and child who survived the Holocaust, the camera encounters numerous people, sometimes even venturing afar into "their worlds," travelling to their homelands and tracing their history. A veteran master of close to forty years, Johan van der Keuken strongly advocates a message of coexistence in order to live in this day and age. With the dynamism of his filming, and his rhythmical editing style, Keuken's portrayal of Amsterdam as a city of our time is filled with youthful vitality.
--Mizuhara Fumito

Director's Statement

Our voyage takes us through the city on three levels: over water, on the ground and through the air. Movement along the concentric rings of the canals, through the circle of seasons upon which all encounters are located, connected. This structure is the basis of my film, a solid foundation that permits me the freedom of improvisation.

We are carried through the canals, located on the water. The camera glides, looking at the city from the water's surface, taking in the life on the quayside, in the houseboats and vessels. It looks up into the architectural space formed by the endlessly varied stream of façades. And whenever something happens that catches our attention, we bring it into focus.

We are moving at ground level: walking, cycling, or motoring in a car alongside the canals. Then we are amidst city life: pressing on with other pedestrians, skipping traffic lights on bike, zigzagging between cars and trams on busy side streets, or crawling along in a traffic jam, seeing street life from a queue of hooting cars. And whenever something happens that catches our attention, we bring it into focus.

We are flying over the city, above the unique pattern of roofs and waterways. It remains breathtaking every time we come home from a journey, but this time we do not touch down. We climb into the air, high above the city, above the clouds, and we are hurled away through the air--eastward, westward, southward--to the countries of origin of the new citizens of the city, to those whom we have already met on the water and the ground. Separated by economic and cultural differences: different worlds irrevocably interwoven.


Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival Organizing Committee