The Movie Canister of Jos Stelling

In ‘The Movie Canister of Jos Stelling’ the Utrecht based filmmaker tells us about his youth in the Abstede neighborhood and how his adventures with a movie canister started his career.

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We meet Stelling during the reconstruction of the old police office at the Tolsteeg, which he is building into a film centre. When he was still a young boy, he once passed by the station and the cops made him write lines of punishments. “You wait” he told them, “when I grow up I will buy this whole place”. The old police station has become the beautiful Louis Hartlooper-Complex now, with different theaters, a café and meeting halls. The first short films of the Utrecht by the Sea series had their premieres here.


Yet, Jos Stelling is first and foremost a filmmaker. He takes us to the neighborhood he grew up in, basically it was one of the many little villages that formed Utrecht together back then.


The characteristic inhabitants of the Abstede neighborhood give Stellings film ‘De Pretenders’ its colors. By showing shots from that film and a visit to the Catholic Saint Alyysiuschurch on the Van Ostadelaan, where he once served as an altar boy, Stelling tells us about filmmaking and the inevitable lies in the process of creating a film. Is all art in a way some sort of refined deceivement? And is film Catholic and theatre Protestant? 


“Film is language of the soul; as a spectator you shouldn’t think but feel. That’s way Calvinist Holland is such a bad film country. Dialogues go straight to your brain, which is a handicap for viewing. I’m more interested in the visual field of tension, the suggestion. 


Stelling also powerfully comments on the love life of Chatolic youngsters in the Abstede neighborhood of the fifties.


The short film ends with the openng of the Louis Hartlooper-complex, named after the film exploiter who would added comments during the screening of silent films in the Rembrand movie theatre and who was more famous than most filmmakers in those days. 


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