• Sunday, November 28, 2021

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    The Dutch film industry has a well entrenched heritage which, thanks to the EYE institute, is now available to everybody.

    In 1895 cinematography was born in Paris. The production of L’Arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat, by brothers August and Louis Lumière, would kick of the French film industry and, in turn, those later behemoths Hollywood and Bollywood. However, it also kicked off the Dutch film industry, which became an early player with the 1896 release of Gestoorde Hengelaar (The Mad Angler) by M.H Laddé. While the Dutch industry would never match the size of its French, American and Indian counterparts, it has, however, had its periods in the sun, thrived on an international scale and left us with a Dutch film heritage to be proud of.

    In 1946 the Dutch Historic Film Archive was founded, and set about collecting works from before the war. It is thanks to this establishment that we still have access to such classic titles as The Misadventure of a French Gentleman Without Pants at the Zandvoort Beach, which was released in 1905 (giving filmmaking possibly the greatest title ever conceived).

    In fact, the era from before 1946 had already seen two boom periods for Dutch film. During WWI the Netherlands had been a hub of cinematic activity. As a neutral country that wasn’t involved in the war, Dutch production companies produced a plethora of feature films. When the Nazis came to power in Germany in the 1930s, another boom period resulted as many German film-makers fled to Holland to escape artistic oppression.

    Documentary production has also always been a strong asset to the Dutch film tradition. In the 1950s, a range of artists began to benefit from the Dutch Film Fund, dedicated to making documentary production a priority in regard to cultural enhancement. These artists included Bert Haanstra and Herman van der Horst, contemporaries who led the‘Dutch Documentary School’ movement – a style known forfeaturing human beings as metaphors, and which held its own on the international documentary scene. This resulted in Dutch success in major industry awards such as Cannes and an Academy Award nomination. The legacy of this movement can be found in the Amsterdam International Documentary Festival, one of the industry’s biggest events and held annually in November.

    In the 66 years since the foundation of the Dutch Historic Film Archive, there has been a concerted effort to collect, maintain, restore and display the Dutch film heritage. In 2009, this effort was solidified between the four big film archives. The result is the new EYE Film Institute, an architecturally eyecatching, and ground breaking new attraction on the north side of the Ij Harbour.

    The EYE has over 62,000 kilometres of reel. This amounts to around 37,000 Dutch and International films – a collection that is constantly growing and is supplemented by over 700,000 film-related photos and cards, and 60,000 posters. Indeed, the EYE is the embodiment of the years of hard work that has been put into preserving and maintaining this important contributor to Dutch cultural heritage.

    The new and attention-grabbing building, which was designed by Viennese firm Delugan Meissl, is the only museum in the Netherlands specifically dedicated to film and the moving image. It was opened in the first week of April, and features four film theatres, exhibition space, workrooms, filmlabs and a cafe. The combination of this new-age building, alongside the huge and internationally heralded collection, invites the general public to explore this world of film in a way not previously possible in Amsterdam. The EYE pays homage to the world of film in the best possible way, by allowing the public to experience that world to its greatest depths. As such, it is an addition to Amsterdam of which the city and the public can be proud for many years to come.

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