Documentary explores Amsterdam's Nazi-occupied past

AFP / Loic Venance

Steve McQueen's new documentary "Occupied City" aims to draw a connection between past & present by juxtaposing modern-day shots of Amsterdam against a narration of what happened during the Nazi occupation.

The documentary premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this week.

The British director of the 2014 Oscar-winning film "12 Years a Slave" said that looking at the past was important for understanding the war in Ukraine or the rise of the far right.

"It's just putting things into context - how we're here, how did we arrive here today," McQueen told Reuters. "It's not such a long time ago; 80-odd years ago, but the amnesia is incredible."

The four-and-a-half-hour film, which relies heavily on the book "Atlas of an Occupied City - Amsterdam 1940-1945" by Bianca Stigter, goes to more than 100 sites in the Dutch capital to examine what happened there - though notably, the attic apartment where Anne Frank was in hiding is not included.

Filmed during the COVID-19 pandemic, the documentary includes the street protests against the government's infection prevention measures and the celebrations afterwards.

McQueen said the project was about how blood, sweat and tears "got us to actually have this conversation that got us to a situation where people didn't have to care."

Critics have described "Occupied City" as monumental, moving and ranking among the great World War Two-themed films. Britain's The Guardian newspaper awarded it a perfect five out of five stars.

The director's upcoming feature film, "Blitz," stars Saoirse Ronan and is also set during World War Two. The Blitz in London was "very different to how we think it was," McQueen told Reuters, adding: "I'm hoping to show you."

More from Entertainment

  • Striking Hollywood actors resume contract talks with studios, networks

    Negotiators for striking Hollywood actors resumed contract talks on Monday with representatives of major studios, television networks and streaming services, marking the first time the two sides have returned to the bargaining table since mid-July.

  • Taylor Swift again watches Chiefs, Kelce amid romance rumours

    Pop megastar Taylor Swift was just a spectator on Sunday at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium, but she was still the star of the show as she watched her rumoured beau, Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, face the New York Jets.

  • Beyonce's concert film to be distributed globally by AMC

    A film based on American pop star Beyonce's hit "Renaissance World Tour" is set to be distributed globally by a unit of AMC Entertainment, the company said, as cinema chains look to fill content gaps stemming from Hollywood strikes.

  • Suspect charged with Tupac murder

    An admitted former street gang leader was arrested on Friday on a charge of murder in the Las Vegas shooting of hip-hop star Tupac Shakur nearly three decades ago, a long-unsolved crime that became a defining moment in the history of rap music.

  • NSYNC drop first new song together in 20 years

    NSYNC, one of the most successful acts of the late 1990s, released their first new music together in 20 years on Friday, a song featuring in animated movie "Trolls Band Together".

News