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New documentary on American Amsterdams coming to Botetourt

BOTETOURT – Amsterdam is one of the oldest communities in Botetourt, but these days it is nearly lost in the transition between Daleville and Ashley Plantation.

Still, the little community on US 220 will be one of the subjects in a Dutch film that will tell the stories of all 16 American Amsterdams.

A street sign is about all that identifies Amsterdam, the old community just north of Daleville. While Amsterdam is bringing Dutch filmmakers to Botetourt next week, it’s the people of the 16 American Amsterdams and their surrounds who will be the subjects of the documentary.
A street sign is about all that identifies Amsterdam, the old community just north of Daleville. While Amsterdam is bringing Dutch filmmakers to Botetourt next week, it’s the people of the 16 American Amsterdams and their surrounds who will be the subjects of the documentary.

Two Dutch filmmakers and a production crew from a New York production company will be here August 20-22 filming segments for the documentary that’s expected to be released in 2012.

While Amsterdam is bringing the crew, the film will be about people.

Botetourt Tourism Director Kevin Costello said the film is being produced by the independent Dutch filmmakers Rogier van Eck and Rob Rombout through Saga Films, which is based in Brussels. The film is supported by the Belgium Culture Board, similar to the American Public Broadcasting Corp. (PBS).

Amsterdam, Va. is one of 16 Amsterdams that will be the subject of “Amsterdam Stories USA.” Fifteen are in the United States and one is just across the border in Canada.

The crew was in Amsterdam, N.Y., the second leg of their journey, earlier this week.

Costello said the film will be about the Amsterdam cities, towns and small communities, but will focus on the people and their stories, and not on the history of the Amsterdams.

Here, they do expect to chat with Mary Ann Rader Obenshain who wrote a history of Botetourt’s Amsterdam, and Gwen Ikenberry at Ikenberry’s Orchards.

Botetourt Historical Society Executive Director Weldon Martin will get a visit from the film crew at the society museum in Fincastle where there are samples of the furniture once made in Amsterdam.

The crew is also scheduled to visit other parts of Botetourt, such as Barbara Kolb’s and Jim Holladay’s Blue Ridge Vineyard near Eagle Rock.

One of the filmmakers told an Amsterdam, N.Y. reporter, “It’s not an average image of the town; it’s a limited, subjective view of two people passing through. It has not the intention to be the global idea of this city.”

The filming started in Amsterdam, N.J., went to Amsterdam, N.Y., and is stopping at the Amsterdams in Pennsylvania and Ohio before coming to Virginia.

From here, the four-man film crew will go to Indiana, Georgia, Mississippi, Texas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Saskatchewan, Montana, Idaho and California.

“It’s kind of cool they’re coming,” Costello said of the film crew that will be on the road for a year traversing the country.

The filmmakers bill the making of “Amsterdam Stories USA” as “16 States. 4 Seasons. 2 Dutch Filmmakers. One American Adventure….”

Joining Rombout and van Eck on the road are Ben Wolf and Colin Bannon.

An explanation for making the film is on their blog. It notes:

“Apart from the capital of the Netherlands, there are some 20 Amsterdam’s across the world. The name is spread out from California to South Africa, from Svalbard to the Indian Ocean. Some are provincial towns, hamlets or inhabited islands – all are a long way from the Netherlands.

“’Amsterdam Stories USA’ is a road movie and mosaic portrayal of the little-known America that follows the migratory flow of the past through 16 North American towns, sites, and populated places, all of them called Amsterdam. Each little Amsterdam, embedded within a network of landscapes and encounters, is a different, unique story that progressively weaves an imaginary map of provincial America.

“From East to West, from New York (ex-New Amsterdam) to California, two Dutch descent filmmakers establish a panorama of Middle America via 16 tableaux. As they trace that single name across the map, they examine the hinterland’s prosaic and little-known periphery from a European perspective.

“This filmic immersion into the live material of the landscapes and cultural and social universes of a complex country is a new adventure that is sometimes solemn, at other times offbeat, laidback and touching.

“Over the past 10 years, Rob Rombout and Rogier van Eck have been tracking down these little-known places around the world. The first 80-minute documentary, “Amsterdam Via Amsterdam” (1996-2004, awarded three prizes in the U.S.), was a sea expedition from the Dutch capital to the two islands of the same name at the globe’s northern and southern extremities.

“After “Amsterdam Stories USA” (four shooting periods in 2010 and 2011), the forthcoming documentary will be “Amsterdam Black & White” (2012-2013), a to-and-fro portrait of two villages, one in the province of Drenthe (in the north of Holland), the other in Transvaal (South Africa).”

Folks will be able to follow the film crew on their web blog at http://amsterdamstoriesusa.wordpress.com and on Twitter.

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