This year’s Retrospective program brings the experience of watching the works made by Bert Haanstra. Haanstra is a director from the Netherlands who was born at the end of October 1916. His name is recorded in The Academy Awards at the Oscars for Best Short Documentary and the Grand Prix du court metrage at the Cannes Festival. Haanstra had studied at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences but then quit because he felt that long studies would be nothing compared to real-life experiences. Later he worked as a photojournalist, experimenting in stage photography, and made his first film, Catfish. His vision is gentle, ironic, and filled with his love for people and nature.
Haanstra built up his career through his own efforts. Nearly all his movies, whether short or long, enjoyed tremendous success in numerous countries. His brilliant camerawork and editing produced films that become highlights in Dutch film history. Through the documentaries Mirror of Holland (1950) and The Voice of the Water (1966), he shows his vision of the Netherlands and water as an inseparable unity. The two films depict the beautiful scenery of the Netherlands coastline and the human relations that live, work, and enjoy recreational water.
Haanstra found a special interest in the work of the great Dutch painter, Rembrandt. Through Painter of Man (1957), Haanstra presents refined lighting, vital details in the painting, and the gradual dramatization of Rembrandt’s character in relation to his master and to one another.
The yellow sheen on liquid glass is the radiance in Glass (1958). Combining music, sound effects, and editing, Haanstra infuses the routine process in a bottle factory into a sense of deep awe. Zoo (1962) is a touching and humorous film about the way humans and animals behave at Artis (Amsterdam Zoo).
The Human Dutch (1963) paints a picture of the Dutch and pokes gentle fun at their peculiarities. Haanstra observed the Dutch after the post-war reconstruction era with compassion and wit, and they emerged with a sense of sorrow and joy, religion and individualism and, above all, freedom.
We present four short films and two feature films from Bert Haanstra to provide a visually captivating experience: seeing with fresh eyes. The most striking of Haanstra were his enthusiasm, drive, skill, artistic integrity, and creativity. His work is a blending of drama and comedy, imagination, and reality.