Bert Haanstra - Director

Nationality: Dutch. Born: Holten, Holland, 31 May 1916. Education: Academy of Arts, Amsterdam. Career: Painter and press photographer, from late 1930s; joined Royal Dutch Shell Film Unit, 1952; producer and manager, Shell Film Unit, Venezuela, 1956; founded production company, Bert Haanstra Filmproductie, 1960. Awards: Grand Prix (documentary), Cannes Festival, for Mirror of Holland , 1951. Died: 23 October 1997, in Hilversum, Netherlands.

Films as Director:


De Muiderkring herleeft ( The Muyder Circle Lives Again ) (+ sc, ph, ed)


Spiegel van Holland ( Mirror of Holland ) (+ sc, ph, ed)


Nederlandse beeldhouwkunst tijdens de late Middeleeuwen ( Dutch Sculpture ) (+ co-ed); Panta Rhei ( All Things Flow ) (+ sc, ph, ed)

Bert Haanstra
Bert Haanstra


Dijkbouw ( Dike Builders ) (+ sc, ed)


Ont staan en vergaan ( The Changing Earth ) (+ sc); De opsporing van aardolie ( The Search for Oil ) (+ sc); De verkenningsboring ( The Wildcat ) (+ sc); Het olieveld ( The Oilfield ) (+ sc)


The Rival World ( Strijd zonder einde ) (+ ed, sc); God Shiva (+ sc, pr, ed); En de zee was niet meer ( And There Was No More Sea ) (+ pr, sc, ed)


Rembrandt, schilder van de mens ( Rembrandt, Painter of Man ) (+ pr, sc, ed)


Over glas gesproken ( Speaking of Glass ) (+ pr, sc, ed); Glas ( Glass ) (+ co-ed, pr, sc); Fanfare (+ co-sc, co-ed)


De zaak M.P. ( The M.P. Case ) (+ co-sc, co-ed, pr)


Zoo (+ pr, sc, ed); Delta Phase I (+ pr, sc, ed)


Alleman ( The Human Dutch ) (+ co-sc, narration for English and German versions)


De stem van het water ( The Voice of the Water ) (+ co-sc, pr, ed)


Retour Madrid ( Return Ticket to Madrid ) (+ co-pr, co-ph)


Bij de beesten af ( Ape and Super Ape ) (+ pr, sc, ed, co-commentary, co-add'l ph, narration)


Dokter Pulder zaait papavers ( Dr. Pulder Sows Poppies, When the Poppies Bloom Again ) (+ pr)


Nationale Parken . . . noodzaak ( National Parks . . . a Necessity, National Parks in the Netherlands ) (+ pr, sc, ed)


Een pak slaag ( Mr. Slotter's Jubilee ) (+ pr)


Vroeger kon je lachen ( One Could Laugh in Former Days ) (+ pr, sc); Nederland ( The Netherlands ) (+ pr, sc, ed)


Kinderen van Ghana

Other Films:


Myrte en de demonen ( Myrte and the Demons ) (Schreiber) (ph); Boer Pietersen schiet in de roos ( Bull's Eye for Farmer Pietersen ) (Brusse) (ph)


Belgian Grand Prix (Hughes) (co-ph)


De gouden Ilsy ( The Golden Ilsy ) (van der Linden) (ph); Olie op reis ( Pattern of Supply ) (Pendry) (pr)


Paleontologie ( Schakel met het verleden ; Story in the Rocks ) (van Gelder) (pr, tech advisor)


Lage landen ( Hold Back the Sea ) (Sluizer) (tech advisor)


De overval ( The Silent Raid ) (Rotha) (co-sc, uncredited)


Pas assez ( Not Enough ; Niet genoeg ) (van der Velde) (ed)


Trafic (Tati) (collaborator); Summer in the Fields (van der Linden) (ed)


Grierson (Blais) (role as interviewee)


Juliana in zeventig bewogen jaren ( Juliana in Seventy Turbulent Years ) (Kohlhaas) (advisor)


By HAANSTRA: articles—

"Gresprek met Bert Haanstra en prof. dr. G.P. Behrends," with R. du Mèe and others, in Skoop (Amsterdam), vol.8, no.6, 1972.

"Geen klachten over hoeveelheid aandacht voor Nederlandse film," in Skoop (Amsterdam), February 1976.

Interview with Freddy Sartor, in Film en Televisie + Video (Brussels), November 1996.

On HAANSTRA: book—

Verdaasdonk, Dorothee, editor, Bert Haanstra , Amsterdam, 1983.

On HAANSTRA: articles—

"Director of the Year," in International Film Guide , London, 1966.

Cowie, Peter, "Bert Haanstra," in Focus on Film (London), Spring 1972.

"Bert Haanstra," in Film Dope (London), March 1981.

Bertina, B.J., "Haanstra en het onverzorgde corpus van Dorothee Verdaasdonk," in Skoop (Amsterdam), December 1983/January 1984.

"Niet van deze wereld," in Skoop , December-January 1987–1988.

Daems, Jo, "Het beste van Bert Haanstra. Lang verborgen schat (her)ontdekt," in Film en Televisie + Video (Brussels), May-June 1990.

Hommel, Michel, and Hauffmann, F., "Hulot in de menigte. Twee kapiteins op een schip," in Skrien (Amsterdam), June-July 1991.

Monster, Ruud, and others,"Ecce homo. Hommage Bert Haanstra," in Skrien (Amsterdam), August-September 1996.

Obituary, in Skrien (Amsterdam), December-January 1997–1998.

* * *

Bert Haanstra is one of Holland's most renowned filmmakers. The twenty-eight films he made between 1948 and 1988 belong to various genres. His first films were documentaries. Typical of these, and a hallmark of Haanstra's personal style, is the frequent use of "rhyming images" and of images blending into each other. Critics responded warmly to the lyrical and pictorial qualities of Haanstra's early work. In his films about oil drilling, commissioned by Shell, Haanstra showed that instructional films can be of artistic as well as informative value.

Haanstra's first feature film, Fanfare , was a comedy and a big hit at the box office. The film, however, was also praised for its artistic importance and considered by many as a turning point in Dutch film: "This film should set the tone for the future production of Dutch feature-films," wrote a critic. His second feature film, De zaak M. P. , was very coolly received, however, and Haanstra turned again to making documentaries.

Discussions in the 1960s about the establishment of a tradition of Dutch feature films—a tradition lacking at that time—were heavily influenced by the views on film expressed by the French nouvelle vague cineastes. Haanstra's long documentaries, Alleman, De stem van het water , and Bij de beesten af , show him perfectly able to catch the peculiarities of human behavior, especially those of the Dutch. These three films still enjoy a firm reputation in Holland and elsewhere. Alleman and Bij de beesten af were nominated for Academy Awards. Although the number of movie-goers in Holland has sharply decreased, Haanstra's public has remained large and loyal.

In 1975 Haanstra made his first novel-based film. Dokter Pulder zaait papavers gives a subtle and detailed analysis of a number of fundamental human problems: loss of love, social failure, aging, and addiction to drugs and liquor. The film is psychologically convincing and full of tension. Een pak slaag , again based on a novel by Anton Koolhaas, failed to interest the public. In 1983 Haanstra brought out another feature film with Simon Carmiggelt as the main character listening to the tragicomic monologues of various ordinary people. Carmiggelt's ability to render this type of monologue had won a wide audience for his daily columns, which have appeared since 1945 in a Dutch newspaper. The film, Vroeger kon je lachen , was well received.

By virture of Haanstra's diversity of films and of his great reputation with critics and the public, Haanstra made an invaluable contribution to the establishment of a Dutch film tradition. He remains a very important representative of the Dutch documentary school, which grew to fame in the 1960s and won countless awards at international film festivals. Haanstra's own films have won over 70 prizes; he received an Academy Award for Glas , a short documentary film. As a director of feature films he convinced a large audience that Dutch films can (and should) be judged according to the same standards as important foreign films.

His films, and also his cooperation with Simon Carmiggelt and Anton Koolhaas, show that Haanstra's work is firmly rooted in Dutch culture, which, however, he transcended by taking it as an example of more general aspects of human behavior. This is beautifully exemplified in Bij de beesten af. Although his films do not contain explicit political statements, Haanstra was anything but a "neutral observer." By the art of montage he gave his films a deeper meaning which not infrequently embodied a critical view of human society and poignant tragicomic scenes.

—Dorothee Verdaasdonk

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