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Helen Westerik

Helen Westerik is a film historian and great lover of experimental films. She teaches film history and researches the body in art.

PR image Pentheseleia by Dim Balsam

Eline Arbo's Penthesilea oscillates between madness and horniness at the Holland Festival

At the walk-in, several actors dribble across the bare stage. No set pieces, few lights, a little smoke from the machine. Slowly, the stage fills, and the actors line up at the front of the stage. The first scene is sung, a surprising choice. Then Diana, the high priestess of the Amazons, a brilliant role by Marieke Heebink, holds a... 

scene photo by © Sukmu Yun

Colourful dragons conquer the stage - Eun-Me Ahn's Dragons in HF23

Whereas in the West dragons are mythical creatures to be defeated, in the East they are the embodiment of joy, unlimited possibilities and destiny. People born in the year of the dragon (every 12 years with 2000 being the most recent adult generation) are proud, irresistible, vibrant and extroverted, according to Chinese astrology. Put seven on and... 

Herzog enchants and asks tough questions - The Ecstatic truth at Eye film museum

The Ecstatic Truth, the new exhibition at Eye film museum about German filmmaker Werner Herzog, is as unapproachable as the man himself. In the huge space ( the room is about 700m2), there are large screens set up, and a few tables with objects. It is dark. Hardly any props, no costumes, nothing to distract from the man and his work. Uncompromising, and... 

© Ahad Subzwari

Music can move, comfort and even heal the greatest traumas, the Holland Festival makes us feel

ANOHNI lived in Amsterdam for a year as a young child, in Gerrit van der Veenstraat, formerly Euterpestraat. The street where the Sicherheitsdienst (SD) had its headquarters during the war in what is now a nice school with a focus on art. Opposite was the building from which Zentralstelle für jüdische Auswanderung organised the deportation of tens of thousands of Jews. The... 

Clare Stewart new business director of IFFR

Earlier this year, business director Marjan van der Haar announced her departure from IFFR. It was announced yesterday that Clare Stewart will be her successor next week. Stewart has earned her spurs at numerous leading festivals, including the BFI London film festival and BFI Flare London, the British Film Institute's LGBTQIA festival; the Sheffield documentary festival... 

Laurie anderson by Ebru Yildiz

Deep poignancy and plenty of humour with Laurie Anderson at Holland Festival

Laurie Anderson visited the Holland Festival for a third time and played to a sold-out Carré. With a five-piece Sexmob, a jazz combo from New York for the occasion, she performed well-known and lesser-known songs from her oeuvre spanning more than four decades. And every song felt like it was dear to her, with fresh, new arrangements of double bass and baritone ... 

Seas and mountains of women in Walzer by Frieda Gustavs and Leo Erken

Banners from the Women's Suffrage Association, Haarlem Division show that things have changed over the past century. But banners of London suffragettes demanding equal pay for men and women make it clear that it is far from enough. The opening night of Walzer, the new VR installation at Eye celebrates women's lives. Dolle Mina's, suffragettes, Aletta Jacobs, nameless women who... 

image by Prophetiques by David Kadoule

Dancing into the night - Prophétique (on est déjà né-es) by Nadia Beugré splashes off the stage.

Sometimes the run-in to a performance is so pleasant that you hope everyone will continue to drone on for a bit. Make it last longer! It feels like you're at a rehearsal, or a private party, at a private event, where you can peek in. That is certainly the case with Prophétique (on est déjà né-es) by Nadia Beugré, which... 

Cinedans 2023: food for thought

Sometimes a festival only really begins after the halls have emptied. Red threads become visible, themes buzz after, research continues, archives are unlocked. What struck me about the nineteenth, somewhat smaller edition of Cinedans is that there was a lot of work on the vulnerability of the body. Not surprising after a pandemic, during a war and with an even more... 

Four Cinedans festival tips, in a packed weekend

With Kaboom!, Movies that matter, the Pink Film Days and Cinedans all four at the same time, it will be hard to choose next weekend. Cinedans, dance on screen, is a festival very dear to my heart, which is where I will be found next weekend. Cinema is, after all, movement, in montage, découpage, action, mise en place. And slowly the realisation that dance and film are a... 

There remains room for the unadapted film at IFFR

Last May, I expressed my concerns about the restructuring at IFFR and wondered whether the festival would remain as quirky as it always was. The dismissal of a number of programmers and the departure of other staff members laid a grey veil over the past edition beforehand. Was that justified? Had the festival lost its luster? Or did... 

How I almost fell off my bike because of a VR documentary #IDFA Doclab

IDFA DocLab has returned home to the Brakke Grond, and how! More than thirty-five works explore the boundaries of documentary in content and form. DocLab is the digital playground where anything is technically and conceptually possible now. So I watched a work with scent, danced in the 80s and got so relaxed I almost... 

For God's sake, keep an open mind! Rolf Orthel on Making is Most Beautiful

Making is most beautiful, Rolf Orthel's latest film, is an ode to making and its makers. Why does the process of making fascinate? What is creativity or artistry? We meet at bodega Keijzer in Amsterdam, where the waiter knows his coffee preference. We talk about film, parents, getting older, primary school, forests, taking detours to see new things. If... 

House of Circus' queer nights have humour with teeth #FestivalCircolo

When I was about 16 and a bit clumsy, I did a clowning workshop at the cultural centre nearby. It taught me how to trip over my own feet. Unfortunately, I haven't forgotten that since. This pretty much finished my knowledge and love of circus. Because however clever it all was, I was... 

Perfect body control and poetic activism at Theatre Festival Boulevard

After nearly 30 editions, I finally had my Boulevard baptism of fire. And what a breath of fresh air it was. Audiences from 2 to 80, a festival terrain you can just stroll across without a ticket. Even better: a festival area where you can also watch acrobatics and dance on an outdoor stage without a ticket! I saw people walking their dogs and checking to see if there were any... 

Into the open: dancing on stage and in the auditorium

A dance concert with a standing audience promises to be something new. Because how often does it happen that in the audience, whipped up by music and dance, you have to sit on your hands. This sounds like the outcome! We get to watch and move ourselves to Krautrock, mixed with trance-like repetitive parts. Lisbeth Gruwez and Maarten van Cauwenberghe invite us... 

Louise LeCavaliers Stations is a dialogue with space and the limits of the body

Expectations are high for Stations, the latest work by dancer and choreographer Louise Lecavalier. She has been a household name in the dance world for decades, first as dancer and muse of Edouard Lockes La La La Human Steps, and since 2006 with her own Fou Glorieux. Her intensity and athletic abilities are impressive, she terrifies the limits of her body. Also. 

And the category is: shamanism

Voguing and religion in Yishun is Burning at Julidans Joke: A policeman from the US says he once got three armed drug dealers in handcuffs at the same time. A firefighter from England brags that he rescued 10 people from a burning flat. A Singaporean says he lives in Yishun. Everyone claps for the Singaporean. Yishun is the dystopian suburb... 

Moby Dick

Moby Dick for the twenty-first century, genderqueer and layered #HF22

Moby Dick; or, The Whale is the latest gesammtkunstwerk by artist collective Moved By The Motion, Schauspielhaus Zürig and Wu Tsang. Her adaptation of the great American classic as layered as the book. Where Herman Melville uses accounts, scholarly sources and monologues, Tsang deploys film and music. In a collage of theatrical performance, dance, found footage, animation and documentation nature footage,... 

Persuasive theatre on theatre about climate crisis - A play for the living in a time of extinction

On the day a group of Dutch climate scientists announce that we are not going to make 'Paris', A Play for the living in a time of extinction premieres. How do you make a play about the biggest crisis threatening us? How do you make sure you keep making theatre and not agitprop? Or maybe it's not so bad at all.... 

30 appearances out of darkness by Arno Schuitemaker excites the senses

Upon entering the Transformatorhuis on Amsterdam's Westergasterrein, we are blinded by a row of bright lights on the floor. A low tone produces a kind of pleasant unease, a sound of possibility. Then the light goes out and we are in pitch darkness, red half-moons from staring into the lamps still burnt on our retinas. The tone persists... 

International Film Festival Rotterdam to 'restructure': mass resignations of programmers?

Screen Daily brought the news a fortnight ago that the International Film Festival Rotterdam is going to restructure. Not surprising after two corona years: this has hit every festival, every cultural institution, hard. It became worrying when in recent days social media was full of reports of mass layoffs at the IFFR. All senior programmers were supposedly fired. Because... 

I cherish Henny Vrienten most for what he did for Rudolph Valentino

In the week that already began dramatically with the deaths of Jan Rot and Arno Hintjens, Henny Vrienten has now joined musician heaven. Far too young at 73, but still 41 years older than he was in one of his most famous songs. A bit weird, but mostly very sad. One of the most sympathetic musicians... 

Museum of Austerity shows the bitter face of austerity cuts

Whenever a technology is presented that I am not yet familiar with, I like to explore. A museum with holographic glasses? Do it! However, it turned out to be the content that will stay with me for a long time. The Museum of Austerity by Sarah Wares and John Pring is no easy read. But essential for understanding the impact of austerity on disabled people... 

Symbiosis, or how I wanted to become a butterfly - Symbiosis VR by Polymorph at the IDFA DocLab

DocLab has been the most exciting part of IDFA for 15 years. This is the place for experimentation in form, technology and content; pushing and stretching the boundaries of the medium. I like to plunge in, sometimes with skin and hair. The VR installation Symbiosis gives that opportunity quite literally. You get to enter a post-apocalyptic world, where people are forced to make connections... 

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