The Netherlands – Matthijs van der Veer, LantarenVenster (Rotterdam)

Cinema for me is…

Matthijs in 25 frames

1. Describe yourself in ten words
Gentle, timid, empathetic, helpful, creative, musical, curious, friendly, supportive, trustworthy.

2. What are your 3 best qualities and your 3 worst habits?
3 best qualities: being very empathetic, understanding, and being open to new ideas.
3 worst habits: perfectionism, the tendency to procrastinate into oblivion, feeling the compulsive need to finish every single movie I start watching.

3. What is your dream job?
Combining script editing with writing film criticism.

4. What do you like most about your country?
Even though it might not have shown the last couple of years, I think we’re still a tolerant country that proves that multiculturalism can be wonderful.

5. What is your favorite dish in your country?
The Dutch cuisine has never really been to my taste. But if I had to pick something, I’d go with Hutspot – a very simple dish consisting of mashed potatoes, onions and carrots. Still, there are dozens of non-Dutch dishes I’d rather have.

6. What is the word or the expression in your native language that you like the most and what does it mean?
‘Gezellig’, a word that is pretty much untranslatable. It’s an adjective and adverb that more or less indicates that the ambiance at a certain place or event is nice, pleasant and friendly.

7. What European capital have you visited lately?
I wake up in Amsterdam every day. Aside from that, the last capital that I last visited was Berlin, during the 2015 edition of the Berlinale.

8. Other than your own, which European country would you love to live in?

9. What does Europe mean to you?
It represents the seemingly simple idea that working together might be more productive than being in conflict, and that reconciling differences is preferable to letting them separate us.

10. What are the European values that you share?
Respect for community, diversity and human rights.

11. What film made you fall in love with cinema?
2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick.

12. What is your favorite cinema theatre and what do you like about it?
The theatre I visit the most is located on the north bank of the IJ river that runs through Amsterdam. The EYE Film Museum bolsters a host of arthouse screenings, as well as programmes connected to its expositions themed around specific filmmakers or movements.

13. Where do you like to watch movies and on which platform (DVD, online, cinema, mobile phone, etc.)?
On the silver screen, where it belongs. Though I have to say that my couch also isn’t the worst place.

14. Who is your movie hero?
Roger Ebert. Although I more than once disagreed with his take on certain films, his writing was always wonderful. His influence on the popular discussion of cinema will probably be felt for as long as the medium exists. The first thing I still oftentimes do when I’ve watched a film is look up what Ebert thought of it.

15. If you were a movie director which one would you like to be?
I’m going to go with Martin Scorsese. It’s probably nice to have everyone that you’d like to work with immediately say ‘yes’. Having been responsible for such a diverse and accomplished oeuvre also doesn’t hurt.

16. Briefly describe your favorite scene
As tragic as it is, I love the ending scene of Synecdoche, New York by Charlie Kaufman in which the main character, Caden, old and frail, strolls through the ruins of the immense set he constructed for his magnum opus, which he never got to finish. Bodies of those who worked for him are strewn across the ground, while Caden realizes how he let time slip through his fingers worrying about death, sickness and creative perfection. In the end, the narrator finally puts an end to his suffering by giving him his final cue, mid-sentence: “die”.

17. What are the 5 best European films you have seen in the last year?
Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016) FR
The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015) GR
Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015) FR
Turist (Ruben Östlund, 2015) SE
Victoria (Sebastian Schipper, 2015) DE

18. Which is the film character that you most identify with?
Even though I’m now quite a bit older than the character, I really identified with Mason in Boyhood, though I’m pretty sure the idea was for a lot of people to be able to identify with him. I loved how the film found the extraordinary in the ordinary. Also, seeing time fly by was devastating.

19. Your favorite soundtrack or song?
I have a soft spot for the use of “Tiny Dancer” in Almost Famous. A touch of magical realism at the perfect moment.

20. If you had to live in a movie, which one would you like it to be?
I’d love to wander through Pierrot le Fou’s primary-color dreamscape, drenched in music, film, pulp and poetry. Minus the gangsters, of course.

21. Your life becomes a bio-pic. Who plays the role of you?
To answer this question I decided to do one of those internet quizzes, which told me Richard Madden should play me. I could do worse, right?

22. Which talent would you most like to have?
A great singing voice.

23. What is your most treasured possession?
My white Stratocaster.

24. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Achieving a Master’s in Film Studies.

25. What is your motto?
Since I can’t really say that I have a motto myself, I’m going to go with a quote from Synecdoche, New York, the film from which I described a scene a couple of questions ago: “There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. None of those people is an extra. They’re all the leads of their own stories”. A seemingly simple, but infinitely humanizing thought, which I’d like to think describes how I try to understand other people and the world.

Picture 5 reduite

Matthijs is the Ambassador of LantarenVenster. Find out more about the cinema here.

Postcard from Venice: