The annual Nederlands Film Festival has returned. Every year, for a week and a half, Utrecht is overrun with film makers and film buffs as a variety of films are shown at cinemas and theaters around the city. I’ve not gone to see any of the films yet, but I always look forward to the arrival of the huge Gouden Kalf (golden calf) statue’s arrival in the grounds in front of the Stadsschouwburg. The golden calf is the symbol of the film festival and a miniature version is given out to award recipients. It’s essentially the Dutch version of the Oscar.
They literally roll out the red carpet at many of the theaters around town, and this year they’ve rolled out the red bikes, as well. At various spots around town, you’ll see a bicycle painted red and with theater names and directional arrows — along with the calf symbol — to direct visitors to the event locations. As you’ll see in the next photo, this bike is directing visitors to the City Theater on Voorstraat, and to the Stadsschouwburg off Lucasbolwerk.
This evening, as we were relaxing on the sofa, watching the news about the austerity protests taking place in cities around Europe, we suddenly saw large groups of people walking past our own window. Was there an austerity protest going on right in front of us? An ironic one, considering the marchers seemed to be wearing golden cloaks? Nope! It was some sort of parade related to the film festival!
I’m not exactly sure what the parade was for, but it might have something to do with the Jubilee Evening festivities taking place tonight. I found a mention of a parade of fashion artist Aziz Bekkaoui, but I’m not sure they literally meant a parade. Either way, there are music, art and film celebrations at the Stadsschouwburg tonight, and that seemed to be the direction in which they were heading.
They were also singing as they walked along, and I realized that I knew the song! It’s a Dutch classic, although I admit that I know best the version that was performed at the first Nacht Van Het Vieze Lied (night of the dirty song) I attended. The song was Zing, Vecht, Huil, Bid, Lach, Werk en Bewonder (Sing, fight, cry, pray, laugh, work and admire) by Ramses Shaffy. I really do like this song, so for your listening pleasure, here it is!
Dutch-related songs seem to have been the theme of the day yesterday, although Amanda took a more high-brow approach than I did. She went with the Dutch national anthem, which it turns out is the oldest national anthem and perhaps one of the longest, weighing in with 15 verses! Fortunately, they only seem to sing one or two at most.
Giovanni and I practiced the national anthem — it’s surprisingly difficult to get the word timing right — before heading out to the Potdeksel to see the Dutch football team take on Paraguay. We were excited to get a chance to blend in by singing along with the anthem. Once you get used to it, it’s quite fun. The last line is the most fun to really belt out at the end, although it’s kind of funny to think of the Dutch pledging any sort of loyalty to the Spanish in this day and age. I can’t help but hope the Netherlands and Spain don’t come up against each other at some point in the World Cup!
As for the match itself, we watched the somewhat lackluster first half at the Potdeksel before returning home for the second half. We had been perched on a couple of stools next to one of the speakers and were getting deaf in one ear. We were also watching the pull-down screen at an angle, so the shaded parts of the pitch were almost impossible to see and the Dutch were going to be aiming for the goal in the shaded side for the second half. If you care, you probably already know that the Dutch ultimately won the match 2-0, after the Danes gifted us with an own-goal, and then eventually Dirk Kuyt finally scored for the Netherlands. The team started to look much better toward the end of the second half and hopefully the next couple of matches won’t be so angsty for the Dutch fans!
It was fun to hear somewhat universal cheers going up all over the neighborhood as the Dutch team had a few close chances and also finally scored. After the match, it was like Queen’s Day all over again, with people out in orange in full force throughout the streets. A change from the ghost town most of the country turned into during the match itself.
Oh yeah, Italy managed a tie in their first match yesterday. We were pleasantly surprised.
Today is the Netherlands’ first match of the World Cup. We’ll be playing against Denmark this afternoon. Seemingly half the country is either taking the day off work to watch the match, or they’ll be watching at work. Basically, if you’re trying to get in touch with anyone in the Netherlands today between 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. CET, don’t bother. Sure, there are a handful of people not interested, but they probably won’t be able to hear past all the cheering and yelling anyway.
Viva Hollandia by Wolter Kroes is an older song, but it’s still gotten a lot of play recently. It’s timeless, I suppose! In fact, I could hear it being played somewhere last night as I was trying to go to sleep, so I ended up with the song in my head when I woke up this morning. I figured I might as well share it with you all. Most likely, we’ll hear it again today when we head to the Potdeksel to watch the game — if we get seats. The Potdeksel isn’t usually open on Mondays, but they’re opening early for today’s match. I think just about any bar and restaurant with a tv will be open today and showing the match. For those without access to a tv, but with internet, NOS, the Dutch channel showing the game, is going to be pumping out 120,000 live streams of the match. Internet might be a bit slow this afternoon as a result.
Let the real games begin! Wear some orange today and cheer on the Dutch team. Hup Holland Hup!