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Kat vs. Culture: Chapter 3
“Originality is independence, not rebellion; it is sincerity, not antagonism.”
- George Henry Lewes
Part VIII: Suffering and the City
In his lectures on ‘love’, Alain de Botton, an actual modern day philosopher, often comes back to the same idea. This idea is that people dismiss partners who are compatible and good for them. Rather, they are attracted to people who will make them suffer in familiar ways. This ‘familiar suffering’ is traced back to childhood, just like pretty much everything in psychology. Socialization, parental modeling and even early childhood trauma are factors in the development of this concept of familiar suffering that is so often sought out in partners. Botton’s claim is that this psychological malfunction has been romanticized and rebranded as ‘the spark’, much to the detriment of healthy relationships. Perfectly good partners are often written off as ‘boring’ because of their lack of pain-inducing potential.
You might be asking yourself why I have given you this spiel. Well, my theory is that the same thing applies to cities. Think of New York and how its image has been emblazoned on the collective conscious as ‘the place to be’. Think of Carrie Bradshaw in the first minutes of the ‘Sex and the City’ pilot describing her undying devotion to New York. All those skyscrapers, all that vigor. Of course, there is also Paris, the city of love. Think of that Eiffel Tower and those beautiful bridges, think of the Champs-Élysees and the Opera House. Isn’t it just so appealing to be a New Yorker or a Parisian?
But here’s the truth of the matter. New York is a city that sucks people dry. It doesn’t matter how much you’re doing, you could always be doing more. The skyscrapers are held together by the stress that accumulates in the air. People have to walk to the center of Central Park for the luxury of a quiet moment.
Paris isn’t much better. In fact, it’s one of the grittiest and grimiest cities in the world. Take a single wrong turn and you are no longer a wandering romantic, you are hunted prey. Parisians are the most cynical people I have ever met, and also, let’s face it, the only reason you think the Eiffel Tower is romantic is that its been systematically rammed down your throat. It’s a post-apocalyptic structure that just happens to sell a lot of keychains. Fight me.
So, where does that leave Amsterdam? For me, Amsterdam is completely devoid of ‘spark’. It does not make me suffer in the way that Moscow, Miami, or London did. Actually, it barely makes me suffer at all, and I hate it for that. I am not emotionally mature enough to enter into such a grown-up relationship with the city I live in. Yes, New York and Paris are balls of pure tension. But oh boy, if that doesn’t sound like a mental breakdown that I fully volunteer for.
However, I implore you not to follow my example. I commend everyone that didn’t start smoking just to piss off their parents and in the same way I commend those who have formed a healthy and sustainable relationship with Amsterdam. This is not my hit piece. This is the love letter that I am still too immature and angsty to write.
Part IX: The Directness Dilemma
I often hear people talk about how refreshingly direct Dutch people are. And it’s true. I’ve gotta give it to ya. Y’all really do say it outright, no filter. And more than that, there seems to be a level of judgement towards those who are less direct and perhaps a bit more performative in the way they present themselves. But allow me to introduce a different concept to this discourse. A concept that is widespread among most capitalist nations of our time. The concept of ‘fake it until you make it’.
Now, bear with me, I understand that both ‘fake it’ and ‘make it’ are far more abstract terms in the Netherlands than they are in America, for example. I find that ‘faking it’ is seen in quite a scandalous light, on par with outright lying. That is not the case. The Dutch Directness calls for a nudist representation of the individual while simultaneously repressing overt expression of emotions and peculiarities. It calls for flesh colored-suits that simulate the experience of authenticity yet hide all that is truly raw. In this context, ‘faking it’ is just choosing out some different clothes, spicing up the wardrobe, putting on a bold shoe. It’s not a lie, it’s an accentuation. It’s a vibe.
Let’s move onto ‘making it’. I think the presumption is that it’s greedy. That it’s fame and money and excess and decadence. And yes, for some, making it is the ability to drive around in a Lambo and shoot money out of T-shirt guns. However, I am talking about ‘making it’ in the sense of reaching the peak of Maslow’s hierarchy, self-realization. I just do not believe that ‘doe normaal’ is a particularly effective war-cry in the battle of self-discovery.
And I get it, extra people are annoying. I’m currently annoying myself as I write this ridiculously over-dramatic article piece, but I have some feelings and this is how I’m working them out.
Okay, hold up. That got a little too meta. Let me reel it back.
In conclusion, being direct is great. It really is peachy. It’s cool that everyone I meet feels the need to describe me back to me, the feedback has done me a lot of good. And it’s dope that some people don’t feel the need to play ‘the game’. I just want to foster a little understanding for the people that do.
Part X: A Premature Retraction
Listen, it’s January. Everyone's a little moody.
Interview Bourgeois Absulotie
On the first of February Jorrit Bouwmans and Jasper Koopmans, two media students and Off-Screen members, are starting the filming of their first film Bourgeois Absolutie. Bourgeois Absolutie will be a short 20 minutes film which will mainly focus on the topic of depression. The film will be a psychological drama thriller on the edge of a horror film, with the idea to try to recreate the mood of the depression.
I was really intrigued by the concept and the ambition to make a tricky project like this. I was contacted by the guys if I wanted to do an interview with them and I was directly excited to do the interview. Before the interview I did my research about the project and tried to setup a interview which would give a different insight on the project and its makers.
On the day of the 11th of January we met up to do an interview.
I decided to try to keep the interview as natural as possible, so I didn’t want to have a strict setup but a fluent conversation. The interview you will see here will be snapshots from the full talk that I had with Jorrit and Jasper.
First I would like to talk about the title of the film, because it is quite a difficult title. I was curious about why you have chosen the title and how you would explain the title to do audience. I have kinda given my own meaning to the title, I interpret the title as the pinnacle of civilianship. Something in that area, like, fitting into society and being part of the norm. I would like to know more about the title and how the idea got started. Just talk about the beginning.
Well, actually, the title of the film was an important point for us because we feel like horror movies always have stuper boring and stupid titles, so we wanted something that sounded cool, but that it also fitted in with the theme that we wanted to go for.
We started around two years back, we started to make a film just because we wanted to make a film. We didn’t have a theme or an idea, we just wanted to make one. We wanted to do the process of making a film.
We knew everything about film and we learned all the theory behind it. We learned the meanings, the philosophy and how it all comes together. We started to discuss among ourselves about film and the theory around it. Eventually we were drinking a beer and we said to ourselves just write our own film. We started with a character because we wanted to write a world around it and work from there.
What was also important for us is that we wanted theme that was close to our own lifes. That’s how we came up the theme of depression. Depression and the pressure of society on a person. That theme together with the character was our starting point, around which we tried to create a world.
We personally don’t have experience with depression, so in those two years of preparations we really wanted to learn about the theme.
Yeah, that’s something I wanted to ask about. Are you depressed? What is your experience? I think it is really interesting and daring to make a film about such a difficult topic, to try to give an outside look on the subject. So is that the goal of the film; to give an outside look on depression as someone who isn’t?
The film isn’t really about depression itself, but we want to recreate what depression feels like. We want to set the mood of what depression feels like, we want to make the audience feel uneasy.
Secondly I want go into the process of making the film, talking about the casting process and your process of working together in a duo. First of I want to go into your dualism, the process of you working together as directors and writing.
The first thing I would like to know is; how do you combine your two opinions into one clear end product? Are you similar, are you clear opposites?
Well clearly we are not exactly the same person...
Of course we have of inspirations, but the most important part in our collaboration is that we know and have seen a lot of films. That’s the way we connect and that is the way how we work together. We both have a very broad view of film.
It’s nice to have a shared passion of course, but how is the collaboration. Do you divide roles or do you do everything together?
We are like a Tandem I would say.
We cycle everywhere together I guess. Sometimes you both want to go in a separate direction, but the one of us who at that moment holds the handlebars stirs us in his direction.
How many people are now working on the project?
Like 40, but we are still looking for like 10 more crew members, like assistants.
We have a lot of crew members with a lot of experience who can bring a lot to the table.
Do you have all the actors already that you were aiming for?
Yeah, we are very happy. We actually already had some repititions and they went really well. Some of the actors don’t even play together in one scene, but we wanted to put them together. We wanted to create the mood of depression of this film for every actor as well and we felt like this was the best way for them to work towards that mood.
I left this interview very satisfied. I just had a fun conversation with two very ambitious and genuine guys with a great idea. I think these guys can be an inspiration for all media students and I truly hope there film turns out the way they imagine it.
You can all help them in this process. To make this film happen Jorrit and Jasper are raising €6000,- and your donation can help out a lot.
If you are curious about this project go and check out cinecrowd.com/bourgeois-absolutie for more information!
If you want to help Jorrit and Jasper please be sure to donate, I know I will.
This Month On-Screen
Festivals and Exhibitions
International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR)
This Film Festival takes place in the city of Rotterdam between the 23rd of January until the 3rd of February. The festival has no specific theme or genre that it stands out for. It just tries to give upcoming independent filmmakers a place to show their new works to the world. Everybody is welcome and everything is valued equally. It doesn’t matter how well known the director of the movie or the actors that star in it are. With this simple concept the festival has yearly drawn hundreds of thousands of filmlovers and also over a thousand professionals in the field, interested in viewing the new works and meeting their makers. As such, the festival also includes masterclasses and education programs. During the festival many different prices can be won. Their is, for example, a jury, a youth jury and also an audience award. Most winning pictures tend to be screened in normal cinemas after they have won prices at the IFFR. Like this, for the new filmmakers IFFR is an important first step to see how audiences will react to their works.
The movies shown at the festival have been divided in four different segments. The “bright future” section focusses on young, upcoming filmmakers, movies screened within the “voices” program have a strong storyline and focus on relevant topics, “deep focus” includes more in-depth and experimental pictures and “perspectives” highlights movies that focus on political and social issues.
Interested? The complete festival program is displayed on the website.
Jan Svankmajer Exhibition in the Eye Filmmuseum
Until the 3rd of March, Eye Filmmuseum is hosting an exhibition of this filmmaker from Prague. The exhibition consists of one big stellage where several of Svankmajers short movies can be seen. His shorts are known for being very dark, surreal and subversive. In his own country, his work even got forbidden for being severely controversial. This exhibition is the first time that such a complete overview of his work has been shown. Apart from the short films, there are also several rooms with tactile objects sketches and drawings. Also, Eye is showing some of his feature length movies too. So if you really liked the exhibition, this might be worth checking out!
What to Watch?
Blockbuster of the Month: Glass
M. Night Shyamalan is back with another potential power piece. After the worldwide success of the thriller Split, Shyamalan expands the realms of the universe that was created in the superhero classic Unbreakable. Shyamalan tries to finalize his franchise in a big way by assembling a fenomenal cast consisting of big names as Bruce Willis, Morgan Freeman and James McAvoy. The story is about humans who believe themselves to be more than just humans, society treats these humans as the pinnacle of insanity. The story starts with psychologist Dr. Ellie Staples researching these so called superhumans. A man who believes himself to have superhuman strength, David Dunn, a man who believes himself to have superhuman intelligence, Mr. Glass and a man who believes that he is next evolution of human, Kevin Wendell Crumb aka The Beast. This time the story revolves around Mr Glass, a genius with a disease which makes his body very vanuarable, that’s why he is called Mr. Glass. The movie is a thriller based action film that really goes into the discussion what is insanity and reality.
Surprise of the Month: Black Mirror: Bandersnatch
Bandersnatch took the world by storm in the past few weeks and it easy to see why it did. Black Mirror: Bandersnatch is a psychological thriller interactive film and that is what makes is so special. The decisions the viewer make form the story, which means that there are multiple possible ending based on different decisions you make as a viewer. In Bandersnatch you make the decisions for the main character, a young programmer Stefan Butler who is adapting fantasy choose-your-own-adventure novel into a video game. The film came out of nothing and that gave it power. The trailer came out on the 27th of December just a day before the film was released on Netflix. I would recommend this film to everyone, because it is a completely different watching experience.
Netflix Newest: Bird Box
When the highly promoted Netflix original Bird Box was released it created a lot of traction on social media. This social media traction made it that the movie was discussed everywhere. For a few days it was one of the main topics on social media in the form of genuine critiques, comedy and hype. Bird Box is a American post-apocalyptic-thriller from 2018 based on the eponymous novel from 2014. The story takes place five years after an ominous unseen presence has forced most of society to commit suicide. The main character is the mother Majorie who tries to survive together with her two children in a world were they are forced to blind their vision to have a change of surviving. The concept is very interesting but it also created a storm of criticism. A lot of people compared Bird Box with A Quiet Place, because the basic concept is very similar. A certain sense needs to be shut down to survive. Even though it feels like a copy it is certainly worth the watch.
Golden Oldie: Avatar: The Last Airbender
When Avatar: The Last Airbender aired on Nickelodeon in 2005, the story is set in an Asiatic-like world can manipulate the four classical elements, water, earth, fire and air. The story is about the 12 year old boy named Aang, who happens to be the Avatar. The Avatar is the master of all four elements who is meant to keep the balance in the world. The serie is a coming of age, spiritual journey, in which a small group of young adults take on evil. The serie is widely praised for her storytelling and character development. In my personal opinion it is not only the best youth series out there, but also one of the best animated series ever made. This Golden Oldie is definitely a show which I would recommend to everyone.
The Gardens of Babylon
If you read or listened the LoneBOX from the December newsletter, you might remember my love for festivals. There are a few criteria for my kind of festival: the scenery needs to be pretty, the crowd needs to be open minded and the music needs to make its listeners feel free. Of course festival season is not here yet, but on the 31st of December I went to a festival which was right up my ally: The Gardens Of Babylon at De Marktkantine. I’d been to the Dunes of Babylon before, a special edition at the lovely Woodstock, or as I like to call it: my second home. This was actually one of the best days of my life, so I dragged ten of my friends with me to De Marktkantine and there the fairytale began once again.
My friends and I like to go all out when we go to festivals. It’s always a glitter extravaganza. Some of my friends who never went to the mystical Gardens of Babylon were afraid we’d stand out a bit too much. We entered De Marktkantine and there was a girl with human size neon glowing butterfly wings. So no, we didn’t stand out too much. First, we went to the Market. The festival always has a little market with handmade jewelry and clothes by some really cool designers/artist, who, just like the stuff they make, look pretty as hell. There were three dancing areas, with one of them being the main one. When we entered the latter, we stumbled upon a message corner. There were people getting hand massages, but there also was a woman performing Reiki. We skipped that one, because in a moment we were going to higher places ourselves.
After about an hour inside, a meditation session started. This is a typical activity at The Gardens Of Babylon. It was about 20 minutes long and besides yawning a few times and getting felt up by the woman behind me (which was part of the meditation I guess) it was really nice. At the end of the session a guy jumped up the stage and started telling a story about his wife. He invited her on stage and eventually sat on one knee: he was proposing! And she said yes! Imagine the high at the festival after that. Not much later we said happy new year to one another and after that the festival went off. The music was amazing, but I’d have to say that the music from the edition at Woodstock was better. Nonetheless, it really was an amazing night at a very pretty location with pretty people and I would really recommend The Gardens Of Babylon to anyone who likes their festivals free spirited and loved.
Jude is here to answer your most urgent question, so if you want some advice don't hesitate just to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
I struggle to communicate with people without alcohol in my blood. Please help me.
Dear anonymous alcoholic,
Often I find myself struggling with this same problem. The solution to this problem is unknown to me as well. But the least I could do for your kind heart is give you some tips for drinking as much as possible without passing out. The key is to avoid overdoing it in the second leg of the night. As our alcohol intake exponentially increases during the night. Try to pace yourself. So, for example, if a friend asks you if want a tequila suicide right after you’ve lost rock paper scissors for a chug, say no. Wait a couple of minutes and then reconsider your state of being.
Lots of love,
I have signed the Nashville declaration by accident and now the whole country has turned against me. I don't know what to do anymore. Please help me!
Kees van der Staaij
We all know that declarations don’t get signed by accident. Something we all know as well is that you are deeply insecure about your receding hairline and clear beta male appearance. Please, for the love of god, don’t let other people suffer because of your appearance. Try caffeine shampoo for example, this will make your hair thicker within an instant. Unfortunately there is nothing I can do about your beta male physique. This is something you will have to deal with for the rest of your earthly life. Furthermore, please take religion out of politics, thanks so much.
My girlfriend and I had a major discussion about this and we did not know what do do anymore because we just cannot agree with each other. Which one is superior, on screen or off screen? (in depth argumentation please)
This question is definitely a tough one. As we all know the study association of off screen is probably one of the kindest known to man. But without the stuff we’ve seen on screen our world would be radically different to what we know it as. If everything was off screen there wouldn’t be any social media or movies. So I would probably have to say that on screen is better, just because without it, I would not be able to share my morning matcha latte with strangers anymore. I loev instagram stories, everybody in Berlin uses them too.