Film Biënnale (formerly Filmmuseum Biënnale) is a festival of music, art and film held in Amsterdam and organised by EYE Film Institute Netherlands. EYE is the new institute for film in the Netherlands, uniting the Filmbank, Holland Film, the Nederlands Instituut voor Filmeducatie and the Filmmuseum. This year it takes place 7-11 April, with over thirty screenings with seminars and lectures. The Biënnale always has a srong silent film element, this year bolstered up by particular emphasis on film restoration. Here’s how the press release describes the highlights:
The Man with a Movie Camera
The Film Biennale will kick off in Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ with the screening of The Man with a Movie Camera. Dating from 1929, this cinematographic masterpiece by Russian film pioneer Dziga Vertov continues to impress with its powerful visual style and clever montage of urban life in the Soviet Union. EYE Film Institute Netherlands has restored a ‘vintage print’ from its own collection.
British composer Michael Nyman – best known for his work with Peter Greenaway and the soundtrack to The Piano (1993) by Jane Campion – wrote a special score for the film. This score will be performed live by the Michael Nyman Band.
7 April 8.15 pm Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ [Attendance is by invitation only]
Meet the MoMA; American film collection highlights
Our guest archive at this Biennale is the Department of Film at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Founded in 1935 as the Film Library of the modern art museum, this collection now includes more than 22,000 films and four million film stills. Covering all periods and genres, it is the most important international film collection in the United States. The Film Biennale aims to reflect the full diversity of this rich collection with a programme incorporating everything from (experimental art films), to Hollywood classics, to silent movies. The material has been specially selected by the Department of Film and The Museum of Modern Art (Rajendra Roy, Joshua Siegel, Anne Morra, Katie Trainor, and Peter Williamson).
The Meet the MoMA programme includes works by Andy Warhol, Hollis Frampton, classics such as All About Eve (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1950), Lady Windermere’s Fan (Ernst Lubitsch, 1925), and highlights from MoMA’s own Cruel and Unusual Comedy programme, focusing on the American slapstick film. Screenings will be introduced by Anne Morra and Ron Magliozzi of the MoMA.
8 to 11 April in EYE (Vondelpark)
From Scratch to Screen
On 8 April, EYE offers the audience a chance to find out more about the challenges involved in restoring silent films. This day aims to underline the ongoing commitment of EYE to preserve and present silent films, despite the complexities presented by the fragile state of the film material. Throughout the day unique film finds and restoration projects will be screened (including several world premieres) illustrating different restoration approaches, with introductions by experts in the field. The day opens with the short film Waffen der Jugend (1912), the first film by Robert Wiene, the acclaimed director of Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari (1919). This unique print unexpectedly turned up in a building that was about to be demolished in Rotterdam in 2009. Among the other highlights of the day is Liquidator (2010) by Karel Doing, an outstanding project making innovative use of existing archive images of Willy Mullens’ silent film Haarlem (1921). Karel Doing will present his digital adaptation immediately after the screening of Haarlem, preserved as it was found in 2008.
Following the premiere of the most recent Bits&Pieces episodes, another EYE discovery, Glorious Lady (1919) starring Olive Thomas, will be screened for the first time.
8 April 10 am -4.30 pm EYE (Vondelpark)
The Bankruptcy Jazz Live!
One of the highlights of the Film Biënnale is the multimedia film experience The Bankruptcy Jazz Live!, a co-production between Roxy Movies (Frank Herrebout and Leo van Maaren) and EYE Film Institute Netherlands. The Bankruptcy Jazz is the recent and only film based on a scenario written by Belgian poet Paul van Ostaijen in 1921, at a time when Europe was still in ruins. It is the world’s first true Dadaist scenario. The work features a 1920s style, employing an experimental, Dadaist collage technique to combine ready-made film footage and audio. The result is a turbulent, avant-garde spectacle. During the Dutch premiere in Bimhuis, The Bankruptcy Jazz will be staged with singers, actors, a children’s choir and jazz band conducted by composer Wouter van Bemmel. Van Bemmel will also make use of voice samples, sound effects, and music excerpts. Frank Roumen of EYE is directing the performance.
8 April 8.30 pm Bimhuis
Michael Curtiz before Hollywood
Before immigrating to the United States in 1926, Michael Curtiz, director of the Hollywood classic Casablanca (1942), was a very important figure in the thriving Hungarian film industry. Between 1912 and 1919, as Mihály Kertész, he made over forty silent movies – primarily popular genres, but also a few propaganda films. The Film Biennale will dedicate a whole day to screen his entire extant Hungarian work; inspired by the recent discovery of two silent feature films. The programme includes the premiere of the recently discovered and restored feature film Az Utolsó Hajnal (1917), as well as providing an exclusive opportunity to see A Tolonc (1914) while the restoration work is still ongoing. The Austrian film Fiaker nr. 13 (1926) from the EYE collection will also be screened.
The Curtiz Day will be moderated by film historian David Robinson, with contributions by Vera Gyürey and Gyöngyi Balógh (Magyar Nemzeti Filmarchivum), film restorers Simona Monizza and Annike Kross (EYE Film Institute Netherlands), and Miguel A. Fidalgo (author of Michael Curtiz; Bajo la sombra de ‘Casablanca’ [T&B editores, 2009]).
9 April 10 am – 5.15 pm EYE (Vondelpark)
Sessue Hayakawa: Hollywood’s first exotic superstar
Sessue Hayakawa (1889-1973) is primarily remembered for his role as the Japanese colonel in David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). Less well-known is the fact that he was the first non-Caucasian Hollywood star and producer, and with his good looks and intense gaze he was also a veritable heartthrob at the beginning of the last century. He was especially praised for his subtle, non-theatrical acting style. Through his own production company, Hayakawa produced over twenty films, breaking through the stereotypical casting that required Asians to play ‘the villain’. On 10 April, EYE Film Institute Netherlands presents four successful films from Hayakawa’s career. The same evening, the unique (yet incomplete) EYE print of His Birthright (William Worthington, 1918) will be “completed” by stage actors (this performance is in Dutch only, with no translation!). EYE also has the one and only remaining print of The Man Beneath (William Worthington, 1919). The recently restored film will be screened in Pathé Tuschinski with new music by composer Martin de Ruiter, performed live by the National Symphonic Chamber Orchestra conducted by Jan Vermaning.
Hayakawa Day 10 April 10.30 am -5 pm EYE (Vondelpark)
His Birthright 10 April 8.30 pm Compagnie Theater (in Dutch, without translation!)
The Man Beneath 11 April 11 am Pathé Tuschinski
BaBa ZuLa plays Enis Aldjelis
Rounding off the Film Biennale is a spectacular performance by the internationally acclaimed Turkish group BaBa ZuLa, which will accompany the screening of Ernst Marischka’s film Enis Aldjelis – Die Blume des Ostens (1920) in Paradiso. Long before he became famous for his Sissi-series starring Romy Schneider, director Marischka shot this silent movie in Istanbul about ‘intimate Turkish life’, with an all-Austrian cast, including his wife Lily Marischka as Enis.
Hailing from Istanbul, BaBa Zula is renowned for high-energy live performances, mixing authentic Turkish rhythms, traditional instruments and electronic dub in their music.
Enis Aldjelis was originally discovered in EYE Film Institute Netherlands’ collection and restored by Filmarchiv Austria in 1991. A digitised English version produced by EYE will be screened at this event.
11 April 8.30 pm Paradiso
AMIA Seminar and The Reel Thing XXIII edition
EYE Film Institute Netherlands is hosting a day for film archive professionals on 7 April consisting of a morning seminar about on-line projects and an afternoon programme dedicated to recent film restorations.
The morning programme, organised on behalf of the international Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA), highlights recent projects offering on-line access to audiovisual archives. The aim of AMIA is to create an international platform for people and organisations involved in the preservation and presentation of audiovisual archives.
The afternoon programme, the XXIII edition of The Reel Thing, presents the most recent developments in film restoration and preservation, with demonstrations of both traditional and digital techniques. Michael Friend and Grover Crisp, both of Sony Pictures Entertainment, are organising this innovative programme featuring various presentations.
Attendance is free of charge. Please register directly on the AMIA website
7 April 9.30-12.30 am AMIA Seminar EYE Film Institute Netherlands
7 April 1.30-5.30 pm The Reel Thing EYE Film Institute Netherlands
film3 [kyü-bik film]
A new exhibition entitled film3 [kyü-bik film] will open on 8 April, in Culture Park Westergasfabriek, showcasing new installations and performances by eleven young film artists. Tying in with the exhibition, a book by the same name is being published, with essays and in-depth interviews. EYE Film Institute Netherlands will screen a film programme by two of the featured artists. The complete selection of short films can be seen in the Moving Concepts mobile cinema. Participating artists are: Rosa Barba, Nora Martirosyan, Roel Wouters, Daya Cahen, Jan de Bruin, Tijmen Hauer, Joost van Veen, Sietske Tjallingii, Telcosystems, Renzo Martens and Guido van der Werve.
film3 [kyü-bik film], 9 Apr – 2 May in KunstENhuis, Culture Park Westergasfabriek
Film programme: Episode I (Renzo Martens) and Number 12 (Guido van der Werve),
10 April 5.45 pm EYE (Vondelpark)
Moving Concepts mobile cinema will visit various Biënnale venues from 8 to 11 April
The full film programme (in Dutch but with information in English) is available in the Issu format (i.e. a page-turnable online document) here.
All the screenings and meetings listed here are in English, and all silent films will be accompanied by live music. For the complete Biënnale programme, schedule and other details please see: www.filmmuseum.nl/biennale. For tickets, fill in the accreditation form (here). The standard accreditation costs €50.00, payable on arrival. This gives you entrance to all screenings taking place in EYE (Vondelpark, 3). However, many performances are not repeated, and the number of seats is limited, so reservations in advance are recommended. Further information from the Film Biënnale website.