Jos Stelling

Jos Stelling

Dutch film director and screenwriter
Date of Birth: 16.07.1945
Country: Netherlands

Biography of Jos Stelling

Jos Stelling, a Dutch film director and screenwriter, is known for his unique style that sets him apart from Russian and Hollywood filmmakers. Even those directors who have worked in Hollywood for a long time, like Paul Verhoeven, have maintained their individuality and continue to make films in their distinctive style. Jos Stelling, often referred to as the "most Dutch film director," has gained international recognition for his work, and recently he has become popular in Russia due to the film "Duska," in which the lead role was played by Russian actor Sergei Makovetsky.

Jos Stelling

Jos Stelling was born on July 16, 1945, in Utrecht, the Netherlands, into a simple family. His father was a baker who rode his bicycle every day delivering bread throughout the city. Jos grew up like any other boy, going to school and playing with his friends. At the age of nine, he found a 35mm film that had been washed up on the shore, and he kept it in a box that he carried everywhere. Jos never showed the film to anyone, but whenever someone asked about its contents, he would start telling stories "from the box."

Jos Stelling

In the school Jos attended, Italian films by directors such as Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica were shown every Sunday. This sparked his interest in cinema, and the Italian masters would later influence his own work. As he grew older, Jos decided to become a film director, but at that time, there were no film schools in the Netherlands. He took it upon himself to self-educate and began studying the history of cinema.

Jos Stelling

Determined to make a film, Jos Stelling invited his friends to be actors and extras in his debut work. Since he had no money, he paid them with points. According to the director, he paid the cinematographer and the actor playing the lead role four points per hour, and the extras were paid one point. This is how his first feature film, "Mariken of Nieumeghen," was made in 1974. It unexpectedly made it into the official selection of the Cannes Film Festival and proved to be a financial success, attracting the attention of the audience.

Jos Stelling

Realizing that he could make films with a minimal budget, Stelling decided to follow the same approach for his next work. However, the film "Elckerlyc" (1975) did not resonate with the audience. In 1977, Stelling released "Rembrandt: A Portrait 1669," which had a substantial budget and professional actors. The film, which tells the story of the last years of the famous Dutch painter Rembrandt, was warmly received by critics and received several film awards.

Jos Stelling gained universal recognition after the release of the film "The Illusionist" in 1983. The film stood out for its absence of dialogue, instead focusing on color and music. Stelling would adhere to these principles in almost all of his subsequent works. According to the director, "talking heads" have no place in cinema because it is closer to music than literature. Dialogue is always logical and appeals to the intellect, whereas a filmmaker should follow their heart and follow the music when creating films. "The Illusionist" received the Golden Calf for "Best Film" at the Dutch Film Festival and was praised for Stelling's unique and original style.

His next two films, "The Pointsman" (1986) and "The Flying Dutchman" (1995), are regarded by many film critics as among the best films in the history of cinema. "The Pointsman," based on a novella by Jean-Paul Franssens, tells the story of a railway switchman who lives in solitude. When a lost passenger ends up at his house, his world is turned upside down. The film's portrayal of the relationship between the switchman and the woman was so delicate that it garnered immense critical acclaim and received special mention at the Venice Film Festival.

In 1999, Stelling released "No Trains, No Planes," which gained popularity among the audience. The film featured more developed dialogue, although words did not influence the main idea. Stelling's trademark elements were still present, including grotesque characters with vibrant personalities, unique music, and saturated colors. Some critics identified the film as an absurdist comedy, a fitting description for this unconventional story.

Stelling's film "Duska" was released in 2007 and attracted a significant following, particularly in the CIS countries, as it involved many Russian and Ukrainian actors. The film starred Sergei Makovetsky in the lead role. It received nominations for several film awards and was nominated for the European Film Academy Award. In 2012, Stelling directed the film "The Girl and Death," which he described as a homage to Russian literature. The film explored the theme of tragic love and aimed to immortalize the culture of the 19th century, which Stelling believed should be a source of pride for Russia. The film received mixed reviews from the Russian audience, with some praising Stelling as a master filmmaker while others felt that he was repeating himself.

As of now, "The Girl and Death" is Stelling's most recent film. He does not reveal his plans for the future, but considering his speed of filmmaking, it may be some time before we see a new film from him. Stelling's main income comes from the cafes and cinemas he owns, as most of his films do not achieve commercial success. He once said, "Cinema is not work; cinema is paradise."

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