Alex Van Warmerdam: King of Dutch Deadpan–DVD Collection


While the psychological thriller Borgman earned Dutch director Alex van Warmerdam a Palme d’Or nomination at Cannes in 2013, truly announcing him on the world stage, he had been one of the hardest-working auteurs in the Netherlands for years.
The muti-hyphenate, who also writes and acts in most of his films, is best known for his dark and caustic black comedies – he’s known as the King of Dutch Deadpan — and THE ALEX VAN WARMERDAM COLLECTION truly showcases the breadth of his career, beginning with his acclaimed 1986 debut, ABEL. Coming on the heels of his latest theatrical release NR. 10, the collection – most of which make their premieres on FILM MOVEMENT PLUS — spans his filmography, allowing viewers to view van Warmerdam’s evolution – both in front of and behind the camera.
Also included in this retrospective is a brand-new 20-minute Q&A with van Warmerdam, shot in Amsterdam, exclusively for this streaming collection.
Van Warmerdam’s feature film debut is dark comedy revolving around the life of 31- year-old Abel (van Warmerdam), who has never left home (literally).
After failing with doctors and psychiatrists, Abel’s father, Victor, brings home Christine, a friend, in an attempt to teach Abel basic social skills. But Victor’s wife, Duif, accuses him of having an affair, and in the ensuing row Abel is thrown out into the street. However, help is at hand when he runs into kind-hearted stripper Zus.
This film that earned van Warmerdam the Jury Prize at the Venice Film Fest, as well as Best Film and Best Director Awards at the Netherlands Film Festival.
(Dutch with English subtitles, 108 minutes)
Another in the line of van Warmerdam’s dark, surreal comedies, THE NORTHERNERS takes place in a run-down 1960’s housing development. When his mother is drawn into sainthood and the resulting frustrations of his father become too difficult to manage, Thomas, a young boy, becomes obsessed with events on the broadcast news. He is encouraged in this escapism by Plagge, the postman who reads all the mail and knows all of the bizarre and intimate secrets of the eccentric inhabitants of the estate.
Van Warmerdam’s second feature earned the Young European Film of the Year at the European Film Awards, as well as Best Actor and Director at the Netherlands Film Festival.
(Dutch with English subtitles, 108 minutes)
A crummy job at a run-down restaurant. A wife who is chronically ill. Anti-social neighbors. An extramarital affair that offers little more than sexual gratification. Fifty-year-old waiter Edgar (van Warmerdam) has had enough of his miserable existence. He wants out of the relationship with his wife, he wants a new girlfriend, he wants new neighbors and he is fed up with being treated like a doormat by his customers.
But Edgar’s about to find out the hard way that his life is truly stranger than fiction in this comedy called “darkly funny” (Globe and Mail) and “delightfully off-kilter” (
In a large country home, the owner Emma Blank (Marlies Heuer) is very ill and is cared for by her household staff: nitpicky butler Haneveld (Gene Bervoets); portly, no-nonsense cook Bella (Annet Malherbe); inexperienced chamber maid Gonnie (Eva van de Wijdeven); and randy handyman Meijer (Gijs Naber). Despite her desperate need for loving care, Emma is a steely, avaricious dictator whose demands become ever more absurd, to the extent that her staff are driven to madness. That is, until the day they discover that they stand to inherit nothing whereupon they drop their charade of caring and concern and instead plot their revenge.
Winner of the Top Prize at Venice Days at the Venice Film Fest in 2009, THE LAST DAYS OF EMMA BLANK is an absurdist satire of the highest degree.
(Dutch with English subtitles, 89 minutes)
With GRIMM, originally released in 2003 and re-edited in 2019, van Warmerdam travels from the cold, misty northern woods of his native country to the sunnier, yet still dark, vistas of Spain in telling a post-modern fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel gone awry.
One winter’s day, Jacob and his sister Marie are left behind in the woods by their unemployed Dutch father. In his coat Jacob finds a note from his Spanish mother urging them to go to their uncle in Spain: ‘He’ll be able to help you.’ They arrive in Spain only to find that their uncle has died. Marie meets Diego, a rich surgeon, and falls in love with him. Diego lives with his domineering sister Theresa.
Marie marries Diego – yet Jacob keeps jealously trying to tear his sister away from him. His efforts are in vain and Jacob starts provoking Diego. It soon becomes clear that Jacob’s defiance won’t go unpunished… (Dutch with English subtitles; 90 minutes)
Director Steve Krikris
The Greek weird wave meets The Postman Always Rings Twice in The Waiter, a minimalist, darkly deadpan neo-noir “(Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter), the feature film debut of writer-director Steve Krikris. Renos is a professional waiter, ambiguous, lonely, yet a meticulous observer of people. Unwillingly he gets entangled in the mysterious disappearance of his neighbour Milan. “The Blond” and Tzina, two people who had relations with Milan, will lead Renos to an extreme ride that will alter his well kept routine and test his ability and willingness to change his life over matters of love and death. As the relation between Renos and the two develops the thin line of secrecy will break. Will Renos be able to follow through? (2018 | 95 minutes | Greek with English Subtitles)
Director Bartosz Konopka
In the early Middle Ages, a contingent of knights embarks on a dangerous journey to spread Christianity and baptize the pagan inhabitants of an isolated village hidden deep in the mountains of a faraway island. After being shipwrecked, the two survivors set out to complete their mission, but as they attempt to convert the tribe, their diverging beliefs put them at odds with each other. Soon, love is confronted with hate, peace with violence, sanity with madness, and redemption with damnation. Directed by Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Bartosz Konopka, this genre-bending historical epic has been hailed as a “stunning showcase of experiential horror” (Bloody Disgusting) that “strikes with brutal clarity” (ScreenAnarchy). (2018 | 104 minutes | Polish with English Subtitles)
Director Janusz Majewski
A dark Gothic romance, LOKIS: A MANUSCRIPT OF PROFESSOR WITTEMBACH is a faithful (though expanded) adaptation of Prosper Merimee’s famous story, and the creme de la creme of the small horror niche dealing with the Eastern variant of the werewolf — the “werebear”. Reverend Wittenbach, clergyman and bibliophile, travels into the eastern regions of Polish-Lithuanian forests — the “kresy” — in order to explore the vast library owned by a rich family of noblemen. Hosted in their luxurious mansion, the reverend learns the strange secrets of the surroundings and discovers the family’s dark and disturbing secret — there are whispers that his host, the enigmatic young count, Michal Szemiot, may be something other than a man… (1970 | 94 minutes | Polish with English Subtitles)
Friday, March 18
Director Mario Piredda
Anita, a rebellious sixteen year-old, is facing a difficult situation: her mother died of leukemia and now Jacopo, her father, is also sick: his need for a bone-marrow transplant is increasingly urgent. Anita isn’t compatible, and neither is her grandfather Tonino, a shepherd. Jacopo’s brother, Gaetano, may be a donor match, but he’s a hothead harboring a grudge which has kept the brothers apart for years. Anita, however, is somehow able to chip away at his armor, begin to patch up old wounds and convince him to take the tests that could possibly save Jacopo’s life. (2019 | 97 minutes | Italian and Sardinian with English Subtitles)
Director Abner Pastoll
Sarah Collins (Sarah Bolger, “Mayans M.C.”, “The Tudors”, Emelie) is a single mother struggling to raise two young children while searching for answers about the unsolved murder of her husband. After being coerced into helping a low-level drug dealer, she finds herself the target of a dangerous crime boss. Desperate to keep her family safe, Sarah turns the tables on her victimizers in one final act of brutal vengeance. Set in the dark underbelly of Northern Ireland, Abner Pastoll’s A GOOD WOMAN IS HARD TO FIND is a “lean, mean, painfully real crime thriller” featuring “one hell of a performance” by Sarah Bolger that “will make you cheer [for] her ability to overcome the worst of humanity and come out the other end kicking all sorts of ass” (Slash Film). (2019 | 97 minutes)
Director Brunello Rondi
A young peasant living in a small village in Southern Italy, Purificata (Daliah Lavi) is distraught when her lover is betrothed to another. Considered a witch by the locals, her erratic behavior is interpreted as demonic possession, and the villagers turn against her and condemn her to death. The second film by frequent Fellini collaborator Brunello Rondi, IL DEMONIO is a stunning story of obsessive love, set in a rural village where Christianity has integrated many of the old superstitious beliefs. (1963 | 100 minutes | Italian with English Subtitles)
Director Jehane Noujaim
In 2011, the eyes of the world were on Egypt as a group of activists made Tahrir Square in Cairo the center of demonstrations demanding an end to the nation’s repressive government. As the movement suddenly gained mass support and became the focus of international media attention, Egypt was on the brink of revolution. Filmmaker Jehane Noujaim was a regular visitor to Tahrir Square, and THE SQUARE captures Egypt’s political upheaval as it was happening, with activists and would-be revolutionaries of all stripes speaking their minds and watching the government react as the world watches them. Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature at the 86th Academy Awards and a Sundance Award winner for Audience Award for World Cinema in the documentary category, THE SQUARE also won three Emmy Awards and the People’s Choice Award in the documentary category at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. (2013 | 105 minutes | Egyptian with English Subtitles)