What a lovely short film. Portrait of a Place: Amsterdam from RadicalMedia director Quentin van den Bossche, is a quiet journey into the heart of Amsterdam in the midst of a global pandemic to explore a typically energetic scene interrupted. Shot entirely on an iPhone, edited and graded by van den Bossche in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
The film is a love letter to daily life, capturing a unique and unprecedented time, punctuated by gentle bursts of local human activity. Its style and approach endemic to the restrictive climate independent filmmakers are facing worldwide.
“More than anything, it was a cathartic exercise. A personal reaction to being suddenly grounded, with nothing to do. With the overwhelming response and messages flooding the media since this began, I personally struggled to find what it is I wanted to say about it,” notes van den Bossche.
He adds, “If anything at all. Rather, I walked the streets and observed what I could with what I had. Which somewhat became the goal – to examine, rather than comment. Thematically, it turned into a visual exploration of space and distance as set by our new way of life, which I underlined through wide angled compositions. ”
Watch this haunting piece below and forget about where you are quarantined for two minutes or so.
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According to van den Bossche, the empty cobbled streets of Amsterdam was an image he hadn’t seen since photographs of World War II, albeit with less physical destruction. He claims this inspired the black and white aesthetic he utilizes.
The directors says he was personally moved by the city’s gentle pulse. The calm conveyed more a sense of hibernation rather than an apocalyptic feel. “We live in a world that has been set on pause, as opposed to completely switched off – and there’s hope in that.”
“On the whole, I wanted to convey the sense of eeriness while playing it up into something beautiful that can be appreciated, if only briefly. And create a peaceful meditation on the status quo that invites viewers to just sit back and observe.
He has succeeded.