Author Archives: Amos

“AN ACT OF DEFIANCE”— Meet Bram Fischer

“An Act of Defiance”

Meet Bram Fischer

Amos Lassen

In apartheid-ruled South Africa, Bram Fischer, a renowned lawyer struggles to hide his secret affiliation to the nation’s chief resistance movement as he takes on defending a group of its arrested members, including its leader, Nelson Mandela.

On July 11, 1963 Nelson Mandela and other members of the African National Congress are arrested on a farm in Rivonia, Johannesburg and charged with sabotage and the evidence is overwhelming (blueprints for land mines, communist literature). The white South African lawyer Bram Fischer (Peter Paul Muller) is at first hesitant, but eventually decides to defend Mandela and the other accused. His restraint is not unfounded, because like Mandela he is against Apartheid and was often present at the same farm in Rivonia. Fischer must decide whether to choose for himself and his family or serve the public interest. The leaders of the resistance against the South African apartheid regime are caught red-handed and captured and tried in the so-called Rivonia process. Bram Fischer is their lawyer during this process and he, himself, is a member of the resistance group and only by chance was not in Rivonia at the time of the arrest.

Director Jean Van de Veldes rushes through the opening of his film and we never really get to know Mandela, Fischer and the others thus causing something of an apathetic feeling for what we see on the screen. This is especially true in the scenes with Fischer’s family. Proudly the film opens with the claim that it is true to the facts. That may well be true, but a film must above all bring history to life. Nobody wants to have a cold-blooded history lesson for two hours. History must feel lifelike on that big cinema screen and Bram Fischer ultimately does not. It does not help that the outcome of the lawsuit is general knowledge, so there is never any real tension. Van de Veldes film is extremely solid and honest, but in no way exceptional. Perhaps the filming of Mandela’s three-hour speech would have been a better idea?

Everyone knows of Nelson Mandela, but who knows the lawyer who saved him from the death penalty in 1963? Internationally Bram Fischer has been granted that recognition. Bram Fischer deserves a lot of admiration. He did not belong to the oppressed black part of the population but to the privileged white part. However, we learn that his father was a high judge and his grandfather was prime minister of Orange Free State. His wife Molly Krige (niece of Jan Smuts, general in the Boer War) came from prominent Afrikaner families. In 1995, Nelson Mandela expressed his admiration for Bram Fischer: “Fischer was one of the most prominent Afrikaner family, he gave up a life of privilege, rejected his heritage. , and was ostracized by his own people, showing a level of courage and sacrifice that was in a class by itself “.

Fischer was to a degree Jewish and this is fact that we need to know more about. The solidarity between the anti-apartheid fighters and the Communists was evident. According to the government of South Africa, the anti-apartheid fighters were manipulated by the Communists. In 1963 the cold war was still in full swing and both America and the Soviet Union tried to expand their sphere of influence, often making use of local contradictions. Although Bram Fischer has remained virtually unknown outside his homeland, his name deserves to be immortalized. In fact, without Bram Fischer, Nelson Mandela might never have achieved his hero status. Bram Fischer is not only known as a lawyer, but also as a civil rights activist. In the 1940s, he became the leader of the Communist Party SACP, which worked closely with the ANC. After the Sharpeville massacre in 1960, where thousands of black citizens demonstrated against the Passing Act, both organizations were banned and went underground with the fight against Apartheid and for the equality of the black majority.

Support came from the Soviet Union and Cuba, communist countries that wanted to assert their sphere of influence in the independence-seeking southern part of Africa. It is Bram Fischer’s job to protect the ten accused from the death penalty.

The film is on the one hand a courtroom drama and on the other hand a portrait of a lawyer who grows into a key figure in the anti-apartheid movement, but at the same time plays with fire because he is still actively involved in the underground resistance.

“ACROSS THE WATERS”— Germany and Denmark

“Across the Waters” (“Fuglene over sundet”)

Germany and Denmark

Amos Lassen

1943 was a difficult time to be a Danish jazz musician playing in a style inspired by Django Reinhardt’s Hot Club of France but being Jewish was even more dangerous for Arne Itkin and his family. Denmark was an exception to the norm in occupied Europe, because of the high survival rate for Danish Jews and the extensive defiance among everyday Danes. Unfortunately, the October 6th tragedy in the seaside village of Gilleleje was the exception to the exception. Director Nicolo Donato takes us to the incident in “Across the Waters”.

At first, Itkin refused to believe there was any danger of French-style round-ups, because of the high degree of autonomy the protectorate government negotiated. He was wrong. As a result, his family was not as prepared as it should have been to find passage to Sweden (where his well-to-do in-laws were already safely established). For a while, Itkin kept carrying his guitar, believing it would help serve their needs in Sweden, but it would not survive the close calls on the road to Gillejele.

Most of the Calvinistic Gilleleje villagers believe it is their Christian duty to aid all Jewish refugees, especially Niels Børge Lund Ferdinansen, the unofficial leader of the skippers and Donato’s grandfather. Unfortunately, “his brother-in-law Kaj is an exploitative war-profiteer—and that’s when he is at his best.”

What happened is probably the ugliest incident in Danish history as a way of portraying the best of the Danish resistance. Both Jews and ostensibly Christian villagers alike make bad decisions and act disgracefully out of fear or panic. Yet, it is true that the overwhelming majority of the village refused to participate in injustice. As Arne and Miriam Itkin, David Dencik and Danica Curcic hardly have time to catch their breath during the first part of the film.

There have been many well-meaning, competently executed survivor stories previously dramatized on the big screen before, but in this case, music makes a difference. We first meet Arne Itkin at a bar in Copenhagen and Denmark has collaborated with the Germans and thus escaped the worst hardships until now. Arne is a jazz musician, husband and father. When his wife Miriam tells him that the Germans are after the Danish Jews, he thinks this is merely rumor. However. it’s not long before the Itkin family has to flee in the dark and darkness of the night.

While more than 7000 Jews were displaced from Denmark to Sweden, Danish seamen earned a lot of money to help them cross the strait. Thus the film shows a slightly darker and more dirty side of the relief work. Donato was inspired by his grandfather’s stories and his sense of reality makes all the events even more touching.

“THE CHURCH”— Home for the Ultimate Evil

“THE CHURCH”

Home for the Ultimate Evil

Amos Lassen

Teutonic Knights eradicate and bury an entire village because a cross-shaped stigmata is discovered on the bottom of a young girl’s foot. Director Michele Soavi’s use of cross imagery suggests the pervasiveness of the Christian threat to paganism. Once the village is buried and the site is branded with a huge cross, Soavi reveals the floor of a modern-day church. The camera travels backward from the church’s basement to its exterior and this chillingly suggests that a dormant holy-place-within-a-holy-place is waiting to be discovered.

Soavi subjects churchgoers to awesome hallucinations. In one scene, an old woman and her husband bang on a church bell. The next time the spectator sees the couple, the old woman is using her husband’s severed head to hit the bell. Soavi’s horror is terrifyingly suggestive, so much so that its difficult to determine what is real and what is the product of subconscious sexual desire and altered consciousness.

This supernatural gothic horror film was based on a story by Dario Argento and Franco Ferrini. The muddled narrative looks good and tells its dubious story with conviction, but drags when it becomes too talky trying to explain its ridiculous narrative. It opens in the 12th century during the Crusades. A military religious order of Germanic Knights Templar is dispatched to a village a priest (Gianfranci Degrassi) accuses of being Satanists. They are all massacred and buried in a pit in a mass grave. They keep the sinners underground, as an alchemist architect (John Richardson) is forced to build a gothic cathedral over the site to keep the evil spirits from the world. His reward for building a church that will keep out the evil spirits is that he’s slain and is the only one allowed to be buried in the church.

In modern times, a new librarian, Evan (Tomas Arana ), comes to the cathedral as a cataloger of its books and flirts with fresco restorer Lisa (Barbara Cupisti). When she locates a strange manuscript buried in the wall, Evan follows the clues in the manuscript down into the catacombs and opens a panel. He discovers the church’s dark secret and becomes possessed. Something he touched locks the one church door and unleashes the demons from below. This traps him inside the church with no way out.

When the Bishop (Feodor Chaliapin Jr.), who realizes what’s happening, commits suicide, it’s up to the young black priest, Father Gus (Hugh Quarshie), to try to save as many lives as he can before the newly possessed start killing all those in the church.

Soavi’s astonishing visual sense gives us some of the most breathtaking sweeping camera work we will ever see. The film has been restored to its original color palette and is a feast for the eyes.

“CURSE OF THE MAYANS”— Horror in the Yucatan

“CURSE OF THE MAYANS”

Horror in the Yucatan

Amos Lassen

Ever since I took an undergraduate course on Mayan history, I have found the Yucatan peninsula to be fascinating. One of the strange fact that cones with Mayan history is the prophesy that on December 21, 2012, the end-date of the 5,126-year cycle of the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, there would be a cataclysmic, earth-shattering event.

As it turned out, however, according to this film, 2012 wasn’t the end, but the beginning. This is a chilling sci-fi thriller set in the dark jungles and unexplored areas of the Yucatan. The catch line of “There are some places that should never be discovered” rings true throughout the film.

 Set at present, American professor Dr. Alan Green (Steve Wilcox) discovers a manuscript that may hold the keys to the lost Mayan culture. After traveling to Mexico, he hires an expert team of cave divers, led by Danielle Noble (Carla Ortiz), to explore a submerged labyrinth of ruins left behind by the ancient civilization before their mysterious disappearance from the face of the earth.

When the team unwittingly stumbles upon an underwater prison and unintentionally frees the evil alien beings trapped within, they are forced to fight for their survival and prevent the extraterrestrial apocalypse predicted by the Mayans long ago.

There is a lot of horror here and director Joaquin Rodriguez pours it on in one of the scariest horror films I have seen in a long time. It was filmed on location at the sites of actual Mayan settlements.

“CHOKESLAM”— Going Home

“CHOKESLAM”

Going Home

Amos Lassen

Set in small-town Saskatchewan, Robert Cuffley’s “Chokeslam” is the story of 28-year-old Corey Swanson (Chris Marquette), a deli clerk whose high-school sweetheart turned heartbreaker, Sheena DeWilde (Amanda Crew), returns home for their 10-year reunion. Now Sheena moonlights as a pro wrestler under the name of Smasheena, she is everything Swanson is not. Swanson is still a hopelessly obsessed nerd who lives with his overbearing mother and sees Sheena’s homecoming as a chance to win her back by arranging her retirement match at a local venue.

Director Cuffley manages to elevate “Chokeslam” to being more than just a simple romantic-comedy by giving his actors space to perform. The low-budget wrestling scenes in a historic building showcase a small town with a great deal of charm, juxtaposed with the overwhelming awkwardness of a high school reunion. The viewer gains a sense of nostalgia and discomfort.

Corey lives in a small prairie town where everybody knows everybody else’s name and story. We really see this when Corey is robbed at work by Luke (Michael Eklund), whom Corey recognizes behind the ski mask (they went to the same high school). Then together they go Corey’s ten-year high school reunion, where Corey hopes to run into Sheena, his one-sided and mostly secret crush. Sheena, who channeled her hot temper into a successful wrestling career, comes to the reunion, where we learn that she rejected and subsequently fell out of contact with Corey after he proposed to her in front of the high school during a pep rally for one of Sheena’s matches.

Corey and Sheena hang out, and Sheena shares that she is on suspension from wrestling because of an angry outburst but it is about to end. She is not eager to return to the ring even though her boyfriend, Tab (Niall Matter) has arranged for Sheena to move to Japan to work that country’s wrestling circuit. Corey, thinks that Sheena has decided to retire and arranges for her to have her last fight at the local ring, managed by Patrick (ex-WWE wrestler Mick Foley). However, Corey didn’t ask Sheena and problems arise.

Yet the film’s premise–should not have taken more than a half-hour is stretched over the length of a feature film thus making it feel awkward at times. There are many scenes of Corey talking endlessly about his love of Sheena and I feel that it is kind of strange that he has been carrying a ten-year-old torch for a teenage sweetheart he lost touch with years before. Robert Cuffley’s basic approach works well when capturing Sheena’s fights in the ring and he is excellent at establishing post-secondary lifestyles, making it easy for audiences to believe the relationships within the characters’ world. This is, quite simply, a cute film.

“The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading” by Edmund White— A Life Through Reading

White, Edmund. “The Unpunished Vice: A Life of Reading”, Bloomsbury, 2018.

A Life Through Reading

Amos Lassen

I cannot say much about Edmund White’s new book since it will not be released until June. I can tell you that it is Edmund White at his usual best as he shares his life with his readers. While he achieved fame as a writer, he looks back at other writers and their books that have influenced him thus making this a literary memoir. We see that every major event in White’s life has a book to go with it. I had a great time comparing my own reading history and was surprised to see how much we read in common. The occasions might have been different but the books were the same in most cases.

Just from having read his entire literary output, I knew that Marcel Proust was very influential on White and hear we learn that “Remembrance of Things Past” opened up the seemingly closed world of homosexuality while he was at boarding school in Michigan. White came to the poetry Ezra Pound poems through a lover he followed to New York and he tells us that one of his novels was inspired by the biography of Stephen Crane What I found especially interested was that White lost his desire to read when he had heart surgery in 2014 but it was also then that he realized the tremendous influence that books had on his life. Reading formed “his tastes, shaping his memories, and amusing him through the best and worst life had to offer.”

This new memoir looks at the various ways that reading has influenced both White, the man and his work. To do this White brings autobiography and literary criticism together. He has wonderful stories to tell about the amazing people he has met and who have shared his life.

“Candies from Heaven” by Gil Hovav— Stories to Eat By

Hovav, Gil. “Candies from Heaven”, translated by Ira Moskowitz, Toad Publishing, 2017.

Stories to Eat By

Amos Lassen

Gil Hovav is one of Israel’s natural cultural treasures. He is a wonderful storyteller. In “Candies from Heaven” we get a wonderful sampling of stories as well as recipes that help us enjoy the food for thought.

Hovav is not only a masterful storyteller he is a born raconteur. His family is unforgettable— colorful uncles, aunts, and other family members that we meet through the stories that use food as a lemotif. The stories are actually autobiographical accounts of growing up in Jerusalem in the 60s and 70s and they read like short stories in the great tradition of Sholem Aleichem—-they are related with “great wisdom, tenderness, insight, and wit as tart as a bowl of Yemenite pickles.” The recipes include sweet sour chorba tomato soup and his Aunt Levana’s eggplant and feta bourekas. It is great fun to read intimate details about someone else—- it is almost as if we are pulled into the family. We really see the diverse cultural mix that was the foundation of Israel.

 

“Signs and Wonders: 100 Haggada Masterpieces” by Adam S. Cohen— A Feast for the Eyes

Cohen, Adam S. “Signs and Wonders: 100 Haggada Masterpieces”, The Toby Press, 2018.

A Feast for the Eyes

Amos Lassen

When Passover comes to find, we usually think of the Seder and the feast of wonderful foods that we get only once a year. This year we will be feasting on more than food with the arrival of Adam S. Cohen’s “Signs and Wonders: 100 Haggada Masterpieces.” Many of us grew up using the old traditional haggadot that had no pictures and were not very beautiful. Over the last few decades illustrated haggadot began to find their ways to bookstores and to our Seder tables as did reproductions of older magnificently illuminated haggadot and we have come to understand that no book in Jewish history has been illustrated more often than the Passover haggada.

Now we have, in one volume, a collection of illustrations from these haggadot and this is the first study of the history of the illustrated haggada, from the Middle Ages to the present. Looking back over the last 700 years, the book focuses on the finest examples of illustrations of the story of the exodus and Jewish history and tradition. Each plate is reproduced in full color and is featured with a short description about its meaning, its imagery, the artist and a bit more about the haggada it is a part of.

Taken as a whole, this is a beautiful volume of Jewish art through the ages. The illustrations are gorgeous and the analyses are excellent and the book’s introduction is clear and beautifully written. We see religious values in artistic form and all together in one sumptuous volume. This is both an art book and “ history of the Jewish imagination.” The stories behind the illustrations are for us to uncover ourselves and it is rare to find that in a book such as this.

Cohen has carefully chosen and presented what he considers the most attractive and significant haggadot from the Middle Ages and reading about them and looking at the illustrations is a wonderful treat.

QUEER GLOBAL STREAMING SERVICE, REVRY, “SHARES THE LOVE” WITH THE TREVOR PROJECT’S TREVORSPACE…+ FEBRUARY NEW RELEASES ON REVRY

Premiere queer digital network launches “#ShareTheLove” initiative to donate half of all yearly subscription fees to The Trevor Project’s TrevorSpace.

Revry, the premiere queer global digital entertainment network featuring originals, narrative and documentary films, digital series, shorts, podcasts, music and more…was thrilled to partner with The Trevor Project and broadcast last years TrevorLive 2017 honoring Tom Ford and Kristin Chenoweth. Now, Revry is doubling down on that relationship and its commitment to making a difference for queer youth through a joint “#ShareTheLove” initiative. Revry will donate half of all annual subscription fees in the months of February and March to The Trevor Project’s global initiative TrevorSpace.org.

“The Trevor Project is honored to be ‘Sharing The Love’ with Revry these next two months,” said The Trevor Project’s Chief Growth Officer, Calvin Stowell. “Revry’s commitment to help support TrevorSpace.org, the largest LGBTQ safe space online, will help us continue growing that platform so that every young LGBTQ person in the world has an outlet where they can safely be their true selves. It is clear Revry is an innovator in sharing queer digital media globally – and that kind of outreach with our stories helps bring not only more awareness, but further acceptance to places where our queer brethren need it the most. We are grateful to have the support of Revry’s initiative to donate funds to TrevorSpace.org so that we can continue our mission to reach and save the lives of our LGBTQ family internationally.”

Revry’s CEO, Damian Pelliccione, wants to make sure that queer youth around the world not only see themselves represented through stories and music, but have an opportunity to receive vital support when they are at their most fragile. “TrevorSpace is one of our communities greatest global ‘first responders’ and nothing is more important than letting our youth know they are loved and have a safe space to be themselves no matter what culture they live in. We have to share what we have, and I hope that people of all generations will join us to ‘Share The Love’ these next two months with this win-win initiative – getting fabulous, international queer content while creating a safe place and resource for our younger generations.”

#ShareTheLove today simply by signing up for an annual subscription to Revry HERE!

The mission of The Trevor Project is to end suicide among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people. Unlike the Trevor Lifeline, TrevorText, or TrevorChat, TrevorSpace is not a crisis intervention tool, but rather an international social media site giving LGBTQ youth from all over the world a safe place to connect with each other and find support among their peers. LGBTQ youth ages 13 through 24 and their friends and allies can create personal profiles and connect with other young people, as well as find resources within their communities. TrevorSpace is carefully monitored by administrators designated by The Trevor Project to ensure all content is age appropriate, youth-friendly and factual. This ensures the site provides the safest space possible for its young members, and that TrevorSpace remains a safe space for all LGBTQ people.

February New Releases on Revry

The Gay Husbands of San Francisco – February 14th (Original Series) The Gay Husbands of San Francisco takes a no-filter, hilarious look at the contemporary gay scene as it chronicles the lives and loves of six multi-ethnic gay men in the City by the Bay. Link: Gay Husbands of San Francisco

In the Dollhouse with Lina – February 16th (Original Series) In the Dollhouse with Lina is a Weekly Talk Show. Think pop culture, fashion and throwbacks. “Laugh-In” meets “Madame’s Place” dazzled with “Bewitched” and sparkles of “I Dream of Jeannie” all inside a type of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse” and a lot of New York sass with the infectious Lina, hosting within her DollHouse surrounded by her very own collection. Every week the mystery guest is revealed that day by Magical 8 Ball…so you never know who’s going to pop in! Guests include Whoopi Goldberg, Carson Kressley, Candis Cayne, Sherry Vine, Lady Bunny, Justin Vivian Bond, Bevy Smith and Shequida.

Butch and the Bear (Podcast) Butch and the Bear is a new comedy podcast starring AB Cassidy and Daniel Franzese (Mean Girls) with guests including: Amy Landecker, Heather Matarazzo, Drew Droege, Jonathan Bennett, Jessica Buttafuoco, Charlie Craig, Trey Pearson. Link: Butch and the Bear

Dead for Filth (Podcast) From the ooky spooky mind of horror personality and screenwriter, Michael Varrati, comes Dead For Filth, for all things queer horror and beyond. Dead For Filth will bring you the best queer & horror icons out of the closet and into the night to talk about the genre they love. Notable guests include Jeffrey Reddick (wrote Final Destination), Darren Stein (dir. Jawbreaker), Thomas Dekker (actor, lots), Jeffrey Schwarz (Doc. Dir.), and Veronica Cartwright (Act. Alien, Body Snatchers, The Birds). Link: Dead for Filth

UnBEARable (Podcast) Big Dipper and Meatball have joined forces to bring you unBEARable! Listen every week as they talk bear culture, sex, snacks, and have in depth interviews with special guests including: Willam, Cubrina Bearly, George Unda, Rakeem Cunningham, Drew Droege, Jaymes Mansfield, Jeff Leavell, Nabor Arias, Vander Von Odd. Link: unBEARable

Kiss & Tell Radio (Podcast) Kiss & Tell Networks unites the community by tackling social topics through LGBT art, media, and events. Originally created as an LGBT dating and relationship panel in 2015, Kiss & Tell is designed to open the door and create a platform for unspoken yet necessary conversations and freely discuss topics the LGBT community experience. Many times, we see a division in our community, although we share the same acronym. From dating, character building, social and personal acceptance, to mental and physical health, Kiss & Tell encourages everyone to live in their truth with notable guests Sampson, Angelica Ross, Harris Twins. Link: Kiss & Tell Radio

Shook (Podcast) Social activist and influencer, Ashlee Marie Preston hosts Shook, a lively weekly podcast where she discusses the pressing issues of the day with weekly guests including a Safe Spaces segment where listeners can call in and ask questions they may be too embarrassed to ask in real life. Listeners also get a taste of what Ashlee is known for best in Snatched in 60 Seconds, where each episode Ashlee selects an internet troll and snatches their wig the way only Ashlee can.

30 Something, Black, & Gay (Podcast) A weekly Podcast hosted by a Barber, a Chef, and a Makeup Artist. Each week the Co-Hosts; Haji, Mikey, and Jay give their commentary on the week’s hottest topics and debate culture, society, and ultimately life from the perspective of black and gay thirty something’s living in LA. 30 Something, Black, & Gay is a delightful dose of insight and wit w/ a double shot of p-e-t-t-y!

About Revry
Revry is the premiere queer digital media network for the inclusive 21st century LGBTQ+ community. As the first-ever global queer streaming service, Revry offers its members a uniquely curated selection of domestic and international entertainment that includes iconic narrative and documentary films, cutting-edge series, groundbreaking podcasts, music albums and videos, and originals. Revry is available worldwide on seven OTT, mobile, and online platforms, and hosts an exclusive linear channel on Pluto TV. Headquartered in Los Angeles, Revry is led by an inclusive team of queer, multi-ethnic and allied partners who bring decades of experience in the fields of tech, digital media, and queer advocacy. Follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @REVRYTV. Go Online to: www.Revry.com.

About The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is the leading and only accredited national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under the age of 25. The Trevor Project offers a suite of crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as a peer-to-peer social network support for LGBTQ young people under the age of 25, TrevorSpace. Trevor also offers an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, a legislative advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and conducts research to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our Trevor Lifeline crisis counselors are available 24/7/365 at 866.488.7386. www.TheTrevorProject.org

“DRIES : an intimate portrait of fashion designer Dries Van Noten”— Fashion as Art

“DRIES : an intimate portrait of fashion designer Dries Van Noten”

Fashion as Art

Amos Lassen

The only thing about fashion that I know is that I wear what I like. I know nothing about catwalks, prices, couture and fashion houses. But I must admit that there is something artistic about it. I just recently discovered this film about Dries van Noten and I see that he is innovative, creative and influential than Dries van Noten. Reiner Holzemer’s documentary, “Dries”, takes us into his life and mind. Dries is Dutch and for the last twenty-five years he has been at the top of a very top of a highly competitive and multi-billion-dollar industry. He is an extremely private person and this is the first time he’s allowed a filmmaker to look at his private life and be with him through his creative process. The documentary was filmed over a year, and covers four collection. Along with that, Dries gives an insight into what makes him who he is and what are the driving forces in his life.

Dries van Noten is unassuming and down to earth. He is very, very driven and he makes sure that his home life is settled. He struggles to keep his independence and to stay at the top and we might think that this is at odds with domesticity. His clarity of vision which is quite extraordinary but I find the most fascinating thing about him is his quiet and intimate personage.

 Today, fashion designers are every much celebrities as are those they clothe but Van Noten is an exception to that. He is perfectly happy to be at The film starts tracing his steps when he trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and by the time he left in 1980 was recognized as part of the Antwerp 6. This was an informal group of young fashion designers who were determined to make their own mark in an industry which to date had not considered their city/country as a source of creative fashion.

Dries exhibited his first menswear collection in London with the group in 1986 when he got his first order from Barney’s and he has been moving forward ever since. Director Holzemer filmed Dries in front of a screen showing several of this past runway shows which not only gave us an opportunity to see how his style kept evolving, but also as Dries narrated it he could be completely candid about each of his collections. He is totally honest pointing out the seasons where success alluded him, particularly in the early 1990’s when minimalism was the trend. 

 

His truthfulness extends to his own personal behavior when he confesses to being more a control freak that likes to allocate every minute of his time usefully, even when he takes a rare day off visiting famous gardens in England. This appears to be totally fine with his husband and business partner of the last 30+ years, Patrick Vangheluwe, who supports Dries in all of his demands.

The main pleasure of the film is seeing Dries and his creative team at work in their wonderful converted warehouse in the center of Antwerp as they prepare each collection in every detail and then how they painstakingly break it down to what will end up on one of his beautifully choreographed runway shows and then in the stores.

The continued success of Dries is not only his not just his remarkable flair for fashion but also that he has avoided Haute couture and insists that everything he designs be sold in stores. He also has refused to sell the business and has kept Dries Van Noten as his very own.