Rotterdam Film Festival and Amsterdam pictures (edit: with extra picture)

Some pics taken from my trip to the Rotterdam International Film Festival and anecdotes to go with the pics:

Picture 1: We'd just had a nice breakfast at a bakery on Nieuwe Binnenweg (the bakery was small, with a cozy upstairs nook where you can take your coffee, rolls, and pastries), and were walking down the Westersingel towards the festival theaters. Lovely day (as you can see), with a perfect little park to walk in. I probably look like an overstuffed trash bag on legs.

Picture 2: Flash photos are forbidden in the Rijksmuseum, so I'm surprised this actually came out so well.

Rembrandt's The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch, better (and incorrectly) known as The Night Watch (De Nachtwacht), Rembrandt's most famous work and arguably one of the greatest paintings ever created, is a huge canvas, twice or maybe three times taller than a man and a short stroll across (it takes up an entire museum wall). It's a painting that seems to look forward to cinema, in the way it uses dramatic lights and shadows, and to photography, in its ability to capture men in swirling, tumultuous motion, but its breathtaking colors are all its own. Funny, the way I'm lit and shaded, I probably look as if I was painted in with the rest of them...

Picture 3: No, I did not get locked out. Was in Amsterdam before, back in the early '70s, but never got to visit the Anne Frank house--I don't remember why, temper tantrum or something (I wasn't even ten at the time). Finally got to see it, and it's sumptuously furnished, maybe even renovated once or twice since I last visited.

Plan to read the book again, but my impression of it back then was that it was, for all its naivete, remarkably well-written for a girl of her age, with the kind of sad wisdom and tenderness of feeling one finds in a child forced into a terrible experience early in her too-short life. Primo Levi said it was probably for the best we only have her story; if we knew of everyone's suffering, life would be unbearable.

Levi should know what he's talking about, I think.

Picture 4: The festival had invited filmmakers Tikoy Aguiluz (Bagong Bayani (The Last Wish, 1995) , Boatman (1984)) and Raya Martin (Maicling Pelicula ng Ysang Indio Nacional (A Short Film About An Indio Nacional, 2005),  to a panel discussion hosted by film critic Tony Rayns, after which he invited us out to dinner at a Chinese restaurant (Chinese, Rayns tells us, because you can spend a lot in a Japanese restaurant in Rotterdam and not get decent food, but Chinese restaurants all over the world are always a good bet) and regaled us with magnificently bitchy stories about Lino Brocka, Pierre Rissent, Clint Eastwood, and Ang Lee. Tikoy isn't visible; he's taking the picture.

Picture 5: Tikoy and I met for a late lunch at some bar and grill. I had snert, or green pea soup--mashed peas and bacon and smoked sausage in a hot thick soup, served with what looks like a slice of bacon atop pumpernickel bread--and stamppot, or mashed potatoes with some kind of sauerkraut, and a grilled sausage. Tikoy had a kroket, deep-fried breading stuffed with a meaty stew.

I don't remember why I had that expression on my face. I don't think it's the food--that was pretty good, hot and simple winter fare.



dcgrava said...

My wife and I were at the Anne Frank house-turned-museum last July. It overlooks one of the canals that abound in that place. The line was long when we were there but persisted just so we could share in the experience. You're right, looking at the hiding places, reading some of the manuscripts -- somehow a feeling of sadness pervades imagining what the girl and others involved had to go through at the time. A miniature of the house is available at the lobby in addition to audio-visual presentations and books, etc. (for sale). My impression ls that the management was also making good business about the girl's memoirs. -- d. grava

noelbotevera said...

Well--yeah, I can see they are; on the other hand, you can see they plow a lot of the profits back into the museum. It's a gorgeous place, with state of the art multimedia gadgets and handsomely designed interiors, probably a crown jewel in Amsterdam's tourist industry (the one that doesn't include the sex and dope trade). Personally, I thought they were welcome to whatever money they made.