‘Amsterdam USA’: a road trip across America

Two Dutch filmmakers based in Belgium for the past thirty years have just completed a documentary called Amsterdam Stories USA in which they film a road trip across America in search of towns named Amsterdam. Travelling from the East Coast to California, indie filmmakers Rob Rombout and Rogier van Eck visited 15 different towns sharing their name with the Dutch capital to create a portrait of the small towns created by Dutch immigrants dotted across the United States. In a recent interview, Rombout discussed the reactions of local residents they met along the way. “Everywhere we go, people will at first ask: ‘Why film here? There is nothing to film here!’ But after a few days stories always come up. We usually focus on one or two characters in each town.” No tulips or clogs Van Eck says that they did not set out to find Dutch clichés like tulips and wooden clogs. “It’s a trip through the lesser-known America; off the beaten track. We’re looking for the interesting, the unusual. The unpredictable is interesting!” But they did come across some towns that retained a strong Dutch character. “The most ‘Dutch’ Amsterdam we have been was in Montana,” says Rombout. “Many of the founders there were immigrants from Friesland and Groningen. It was a closed, isolated community. The original settlers were deeply religious people.” The film is the second part of a trilogy with Amsterdam as the theme. It is scheduled to be screened at Bozar in Brussels on 18-20 January 2013.

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