The European Journal of Cultural Studies published an article by Eduard Cuelenaere, Stijn Joye and myself. By drawing on the case of the Belgian film Hasta La Vista (2011) and its Dutch remake Adios Amigos (2016), we look at how the remake process transforms representations of national, disability and gender identities. You can read the article here.
Both films are popular road trip movies dealing with the adventure of three friends with disabilities who overcome boundaries in multiple ways. Not only by figuratively (and almost literally) escaping their parents and their disabilities but also through traveling, exploring sexuality, and eventually by dying. Although the films deal with almost exactly the same themes, their interpretation and contextualization differ considerably. As a consequence of the localizing processes embedded in film remakes, subtexts which were ingrained in the source text were ignored or even withheld in the newer version. As the involved filmmakers built on particular stereotypical visions and myths about these specific cultures and national identities, often with the purpose of recreating a socio-cultural context, such narrowed perceptions were occasionally subverted but also reconsolidated. Furthermore, through the remake process, some ableist and patronizing representations of, respectively, disability and gender identities were subverted, while others were kept or even reinforced. Our results show that such transformations point toward specific socio-culturally defined disability and gender identities but also toward a shared disability and gender culture.
The latest issue of the Tijdschrift voor Communicatiewetenschap published an article by Eduard Cuelenaere, Stijn Joye and myself on the Belgian film Loft (2008) and its Dutch (2010) and American (2014) remake. You can read the article here (in Dutch).
Het Tijdschrift voor Communicatiewetenschap publiceerde zonet een artikel van Eduard Cuelenaere, Stijn Joye en mezelf, over de Belgische film Loft (2008) en zijn Nederlandse (2010) en Amerikaanse (2014) remake. Je kan het artikel hier lezen. Het artikel focust op de (re)producties van culturele identiteiten. Via een vergelijkende analyse van representaties van vrouwelijke personages, seksualiteit en etniciteit onderzoeken we hoe verschillende versies van eenzelfde filmverhaal gerelateerd zijn aan hun specifieke socio-culturele contexten, en aan het concept van ‘karaoke-Amerikanisme’.
Rip-Off or Resourceful Creativity? is the title of the latest special issue (edited by Sarah Smyth and Connor McMorran) of the Frames Cinema Journal, focusing on remakes. It features an article called Reframing the remake: Dutch-Flemish monolingual remakes and their theoretical and conceptual implications, by Eduard Cuelenaere, Stijn Joye and myself. The article offers some first theoretical reflections on remakes and the academic field of remake studies, stemming from our recently started research project on Dutch-Flemish remakes (cf. this previous blog post). You can read the article at full length here.
In the article, we explicitly take distance from ‘anti-remake debates’ offering a normative standpoint towards remakes. We instead aim for a more nuanced reading of the remake practice. Our argument is based upon an examination of Dutch-Flemish remakes, which proves to be an original contribution to the field of remake studies, as well as an excellent exemplar in the context of the deconstruction and reframing of discourses about the global remake practice. As a first step, we claim that the non-commercial aura of the European remake should be revisited because the Dutch-Flemish monolingual remakes clearly disclose a similar incentive to the one that often inspires Hollywood remakes: financial gains. Furthermore, our case underlines the need for a more nuanced understanding of intercultural media practices, including the cultural proximity theory. Lastly, we reveal a remarkable discrepancy between the essentialist conception of cultural identity—that is put forward by remake directors—and the constructionist conception, which is dominant in scholarly discussions.
The current exhibition at the EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam is called Close-Up. Unlike previous EYE exhibitions, this expo doesn’t focus on the oeuvre of a single great filmmaker (in the past they had Kubrick, Antonioni, Kentridge …) but instead focuses on a group of film and video artists who work or worked in the Netherlands. This may seem somewhat chauvinistic, but the Netherlands does indeed play an important role in some of the most interesting things happening in contemporary film and video art.
Image from the single-shot film Requiem to a shipwreck
It’s a very diverse exhibition, with stop-motion films by Cristóbal León and Joaquin Cociña (heirs of Jan Svankmajer and the Quay brothers?) a (sound) installation with 16 mm projectors by Mariska de Groof and new video work by David Verbeek. My personal favourites were the melancholic and beautifully shot video’s by Janis Rafa (Requiem to a shipwreck and Requiem to a fatal incident) and the installation Void fires by the French Brother Florian and Michael Quistrebert. In this work, they take the aggressive colours used to advertise energy drinks and use them to create serene, fire-like images, contrasting with the original use of the colours.
One of the goals of my research stay in Amsterdam is to learn more about Holland’s film history. One way to do this is of course to attend the Film NL series at the EYE film museum, which offers specials, retrospectives, talk shows and Q&As on Dutch cinema. Yesterday, the documentary De domeinen Ditvoorst (1992, Thom Hoffman) about Adriaan Ditvoorst (1940-1987) was shown, along with his very intriguing short film debut Ik kom wat later naar Madra (1965). Together with Paranoia (1967), these two films established Ditvoorst as one of the most promising artistic filmmakers of the first wave of graduates of the Netherlands Film Academy. However, as Jan Vrijman put it, he lacked the talent to make his talent happen.
Aftertalk with producer Willem Thijssen and director Thom Hoffman
Since last week, I’m enjoying a 10-week research stay at the University of Amsterdam. It feels a bit like returning; five years ago, I followed a film-philosophy PhD seminar (ontologically called ‘What is film’) at the Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis (ASCA), and it’s great to receive a warm welcome by prof. Patricia Pisters and other inspiring people I met back then!
View on the EYE film museum from the ferry
The main goal of the research stay at is the collection of data related to the history of Flemish-Dutch film coproduction practices and policy. The data will be collected at the EYE Film Museum, the Dutch Film Fund and at the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. I am grateful to the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) for granting me a Travel Grant for this research stay.