Monday, June 14, 2010

Wham, Bam, Thank You Amsterdam

It all started in 2006, when Syracuse, NY filmmaker Colin Bannon teamed up with a pair of Belgians, Rogier van Eck and Rob Rombout, to make the 27-minute short film True Tales from Rug City. Shot on location in Amsterdam, NY, this colorful portrait of local citizens went on to win the Best of Central New York prize at the 2007 Syracuse International Film Festival and a Caroll North Schmuckler Award at the New Filmmaker's Showcase.

Three years later, thanks to a large assist from Belgian TV, the Belgian Cultural Board and Brussels based Saga Film, the unlikely trio is set this summer to begin filming a gargantuan 160-minute spin off. Entitled Amsterdam Stories USA, the project will expand the focus of Bannon and his Belgian pals to all cities in North America named "Amsterdam".

By traveling to the Dutch capital's namesakes in California, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Saskatchewan, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin, they hope to tap into a unique Old World-New World variation. They also plan on including some footage from the mother of all new Amsterdam's, New York City.

Though contrived, this kind of conceit can produce cinematic dividends. For example, in 2007, Jim Killeen turned the idea of tracking down Internet search doppelgangers into the micro-budget charmer Google Me. In the middle of this Amsterdam-wich, Bannon made the 2009 romantic comedy Love Conquers Paul.

[Mindlab Films]

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