The Curious World of Hieronymus Bosch World Premiere!

WORDS BY PHIL GRABSKY

bosch.jpg

So, what’s it like watching your film have its world premiere?   Autumn has certainly arrived – and sometimes for me it’s the close, dark misty days of a European city that really bring that home. The Netherlands is a wonderful country but I have certainly seen the sun there all too rarely I have to admit. It’s more often a collar-up, hat on, kind of place. This Thursday was no different. As I and my colleague and friend David Bickerstaff landed in Amsterdam, I swear we could have reached up and touched the grey clouds.  I was reminded of the week we spent filming in Den Bosch six months earlier when, again, the sun came out only once – remarkably when we were filming a wide shot of the city from across some fields.  It hadn’t mattered much as the success of the Hieronymus Bosch exhibition at the Noordbrabants Museum had meant they were staying open to 1am every morning (!).  That meant we had to film the exhibition from 1.30am to 8.30am over subsequent nights.  It was the most glorious exhibition and rightfully deserved to be a huge success – 421,000 visitors which for a provincial gallery is astounding. People drove from all over Europe. Some even flew from overseas – even Australia. Once again this proves our love of art. 

It is, in fact, almost exactly a year since we first heard about the exhibition and made an instant decision to make a film about it and Bosch. Now, November 3rd 2016, here David and I were in Bosch’s hometown to host the world premiere of our 13th and latest EXHIBITION ON SCREEN film.  I think what made this a particularly enjoyable film to make was that, really without exception, the museum was staffed by the loveliest, most helpful folk.  From the museum’s director to the security guards who looked after us through the nights of filming, they could not have been more co-operative and welcoming. So it was a delight to be with them all in the local ‘Old Biscuit Factory’ cinema.  After an introductory drink and welcome to all, we took our seats and waited for that magical movie moment – when the lights go down.  Who doesn’t have that sense of anticipation and excitement as, seated where one can’t be reached by the outside world, darkness falls and you know you’re going to be taken to another world.  I love cinema – and always have.  It’s part of the motivation for making these art films first and foremost for the cinema – it’s still far and away the best place to see any film.  And so, 100 or more or us sat together in the darkness and witnessed the opening credits…EXHIBITION ON SCREEN & SEVENTH ART PRODUCTIONS present…   And off we went.  My, how stunning the film looked!  I hadn’t seen it finished on the big screen and the quality was astounding.  It costs us a small fortune to send small hard drives to every cinema (almost 1500 worldwide now) but – with cinemas having upgraded their digital capabilities enormously in recent years – you, we, the audience can now watch at a quality level previously undreamed of.   After the film, even those who had lived with those Bosch paintings through the exhibition said they had seen details they had not noticed before.  There was a warm ovation for the film at the end followed by a bit of a bar crawl in Bosch’s home town…maybe drinking in the same bars he himself once drank in. On the other hand, judging by his pictures, maybe he’d have gone straight home to say his prayers.