Why do you still live in the United States?
It's the most interesting country in the world, with all that you can say against it. It's still where everything happens. It's influencing the whole world. Every step that's made by the United States has waves around the world. In Holland, I was bored to death by Dutch politics. The US is a fascinating country. Clearly, of course, in kind of an imperialist way. Hopefully, that won't go too far, because fascism is looming around the corner. But I strongly feel that, with all the horror that I feel when I open the newspaper, that it's still fascinating. I feel more existentially involved in the United States than I ever was in Holland.
Is there any room for you in the American film industry today at the budget level at which you worked before you left?
I have a slight hope that this movie, Black Book, will help convince American studios that they can trust me not to go over budget and not to only insist that I need a salary of $7 million and a budget of $100 or $200 million to make a movie.
After seeing Black Book, I was thinking that the McCarthy Era in the US might be the period that you could explore with the same tactility - pouring shit over people, as you do in Black Book, throwing the past in their faces. This could be an effective way of exploring that time for us.
In the past 10 years, I've been collecting as many books about that era as I can. It's not at the point where I have an outline, but I have been collecting all the shadows of the McCarthy time.ÊI feel that this is a highly interesting and illuminating American period.
Why did you want Black Book to have the directness, the tactility that it has? What does this say about your relation to the audience? How did you want it to hit the audience in Holland?
I wanted it to operate that way because it was true. I was describing a reality, and I didn't want to get away from that. I know that I'm sometimes provocative, and basically I never think too much about it - to my own detriment in certain cases like Spetters and Showgirls. I've always done it throughout my life. And the period I'm talking about in the film, this last half-year, was providing and commanding to do this.
In fact, if I could describe for you the reality of the prison scenes that I took out at the last moment because I thought it was too much, the situation that happened in Holland at that time, and the betrayals, were so much in-your-face when you dared to open the books to the right page, and I felt, being the person that I am, that I should not refuse that material, and just go for it. You could say that my resistance to openness and violence is probably less than that of the normal person after having written about the things that I saw in my youth. Growing up in a world of violence, violence is more normal to me than it is to people who have not lived in that area. I can only explain it that way. For the rest, I think you need a psychiatrist.
What cinema do you like now? What cinema that's happening now do you find yourself drawn to?
The South American cinema. The Latin American films that come from Mexico, and from Brazil. City of Godand Amores Perros. I feel a connection there because they are really going for a certain reality - they're bringing it to life, and they're representing it, while American cinema to a large degree has been dwelling in the fictional field. For the rest, I still admire American movies, so that's not gone.
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