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in Filmmaking
on Feb 6, 2007

Two issues ago Chris Campion profiled for Filmmaker the Dutch director Cyrus Frisch, who was in post on his latest feature at the time. Now, that film, Why Didn’t Anybody Tell Me it Would Become this Bad in Afghanistan?, has premiered at the Rotterdam Film Festival, and Campion has written another piece on Frisch, this time in The Observer.

The film, shot entirely with a mobile phone, is a first-person POV movie about a Dutch soldier returning from Afghanistan who finds his own daily life inflected with the violence he witnessed there.

From Campion’s piece:

A huge plume of black smoke drifts ominously over Amsterdam. Beneath it, people pass to and fro as if nothing untoward were happening. When Dutch film-maker Cyrus Frisch saw this after emerging from his apartment in the city centre, he felt compelled to film it using his mobile phone. ‘It looked like the end of Amsterdam. It felt like something terrible had happened and we were all going to die,’ says Frisch.

Frisch was responding to the impulse that makes people capture dramatic events – a large fire had broken out in Amsterdam’s Centraal station – on their mobile phones. But he decided to take the next step: a mobile-phone movie. Determined to cast a light on the increasing fear and tension he felt within Dutch society, he began by filming what was happening outside his window, where immigrant kids gathered in a square, irritating local residents who called the police. He then filmed clashes between these youths and the police.

Of the new film’s format, here’s what the Rotterdam catalogue had to say:

The phone shots have a deliberately low resolution. It gives them a pictorial and abstract quality. An experimental approach that may only be comparable with the honourable experimental tradition of filming with 8mm. The grain from the past has become the pixel of today.

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