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Paul Verhoeven Returns To His Dutch Roots

Friday, March 2----The 24th edition of the Miami International Film Festival begins a ten-day marathon of films, events, seminar and, of course, parties, this evening with the premiere of Paul Verhoeven's World War II saga BLACK BOOK. The film is a return to Verhoeven's roots as one of the great innovators of Dutch cinema and one of the great European auteurs.

Verhoeven has been shocking and challenging his audiences since his early days as a pioneering Dutch filmmaker in the 1970s. After a stint as a military documentarian, the director cut his teeth in Dutch television before making international waves with his second film, TURKISH DELIGHT (1974), an erotic comedy about a gifted sculptor (played by Verhoeven-find Rutger Hauer) who has a stormy romance with a beautiful girl. The film became an international cult hit and was nominated for that year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar. His international reputation was cemented a few years later with the powerful World War II drama SOLDIER OF ORANGE (1977), which was named Best Foreign Film by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and was nominated that year for a Golden Globe Award. With SPETTERS (1980), a slice-of-life drama about three young men all in love with the same woman, and the psycho-sexual thriller THE FOURTH MAN (1983), Verhoeven’s virtuosity set the stage for his move into the heart of the studio system in Hollywood.

Starting with the medieval action film FLESH + BLOOD (1985), Verhoeven was off and running with a series of box-office sensations that made him one of the most sought-after directors in the business. ROBOCOP (1987) was a slick, lively, tongue-in-cheek action film that became a record-breaking summer hit. TOTAL RECALL (1990), a futuristic drama starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, won an Oscar for its dazzling special effects. But nothing prepared the director for the firestorm of controversy that surrounded the release of BASIC INSTINCT (1992), his provocative erotic thriller starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone. His follow-up project, the infamous SHOWGIRLS (1995), lifted the veil of show business glamour to reveal the dark side of Las Vegas. The film, which was blasted at the time of its release, has since become a cult hit in DVD, demonstrating yet again that Verhoeven was ahead of the curve. After the hugely popular STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997) and HOLLOW MAN (2000),

Verhoeven has had a celebrated return to his roots with his latest film BLACK BOOK. The director revisits themes he first explored in the acclaimed SOLDIER OF ORANGE, telling the story of a brave Jewish torch singer who joins the Dutch resistance in the final days of World War II. The film was Holland’s choice for the Best Foreign Language Oscar and was screened to great acclaim at the Venice Film Festival (winning the Young Cinema Award) and the Berlin Film Festival. In his native Holland, the film won 3 Golden Calfs (the Dutch Oscar) for Best Picture, Best Actress and Best Director.

Celebrated in some quarters for his frank depiction of sexuality and violence, while criticized by others for making films that he himself has referred to as “decadent, perverted, and sleazy,” Verhoeven has relished his reputation as an intrepid film artist, known for pushing the envelope when it comes to the depiction of sex and violence on the screen. As if summing up his own career, the director recently mused: “It’s so difficult in an industry where the parameters have become so much those of pure entertainment, to still keep your belief that cinema is an art." With BLACK BOOK, Verhoeven, one of cinema’s great provocateurs, is still keeping the faith.

Sandy Mandelberger, Miami Online Dailies Editor 

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Mandelberger Sandy

March 6-15, 2009

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