Director Ramón Gieling
The Netherlands / 91 min. / 2018 / Dutch / English subtitles
“There will always be homeless, you might as well make an opera with them”.
Twenty homeless people, one opera. The opera ‘The Disciples – a street opera’ – inspired by Luis Buñuel’s ‘Los Olvidados’ – written by Ramon Gieling and composed by Boudewijn Tarenskeen, has the members of the Amsterdam roof – and homeless choir ‘De Straatklinkers’ play a violent, criminal version of themselves. Making an opera with twenty homeless people is asking for problems. That is why not the opera itself, but the road to it is central to the film. The rehearsal process and the off-the-record personal portraits of the unskilled singers finally lead to the opera in which they, as the Apostles of Nothingness, expose their souls.
Homeless choir ‘De Straatklinkers’ studies the specially written dramatic opera THE DISCIPLES, which depicts the tough street life. The opera, which deals with the worst people are capable of: murder and betrayal, depicting homeless people not as victims, but as perpetrators. Gradually, the rehearsals flow into the daily existence of these outcasts and the cruel characters they perform in the opera.
It was the homeless responsibility not to accomplish anything at all…
To stage an opera with homeless people is asking for trouble. Fortunately, it’s not only the result – the opera – but also the way to get there, that determine this film. Who sets the rules? Will the director and composer be making their point in this film story about the outcasts of society, or will the homeless?
The parts and roles they play in life and fiction seem to come together. The question remains; is performing in an opera more fulfilling than roaming the streets of Amsterdam?
After the screening the Street Opera Choir, Straatklinkers, will perform some songs of their own repertoire.
Ramón Maria Gieling studied at the Academy for Visual Arts in Arnhem from 1971-76, where he focused on painting, graphics and photography. After Art Academy he wrote and directed theatre-plays and became the founder and editor of Wolfsmond (1977-’87), art magazine for writers, filmmakers and composers.
Gieling’s career is versatile, passionate, quirky. His films have a strong own signature. He wants to move the viewer to exchange the cognitive for the irrational. The fact that many films contain personal reflections, a mix of the larger (political) story with the private, makes that Gieling receives both admiration as criticism.
His love for Spain is deeply rooted; Gieling regularly stays in Spain, where he shot several films. In 2000 he made Buñuel’s Prisoners, awarded with the Fripesci and Don Quijote award. Further, he made En un Momento Dado (2004, about the significance of Johan Cruyff for Catalonia), 19 Dias y 500 Noches (2008), about singer Joaquin Sabina, is nominated for a Golden Calf , Tramontane – his feature film about a forbidden love amidst the maddening wind in Salvador Dali’s village Cadaques – openend the Netherlands Film Festival 2009. About Canto was one of two Dutch feature length films that participate in the IDFA competition 2011. His film Blind Fortune premiered at the IDFA 2012.
In 2013-14 he made five films, including Memory of a sad dawn and Home (IDFA 2014). Followed in 2015 by the internationally acclaimed Erbarme dich. In 2017-18 he worked, among other things, on the feature film Sisyphus at work, The Disciples, a street Opera with twenty-five homeless, and Fatum.
Huib Stam was a film critic for 25 years (a.o. with de Volkskrant) before he started working for VPRO’s film magazine Stardust. He made several documentaries (e.g. about the Dutch-Canadian singer-songwriter Fred Eaglesmith). He writes non-fiction books and is a freelance copywriter.