The First Riga International Film Forum “Arsenals” got off to a fast start in 1988 by honoring Dutch filmmaker Jos Stelling with a retrospective tribute. Most cineastes were familiar with his debut feature film, Mariken Van Nieueghen, an inventive modern version of the medieval morality play that was selected for the official competition at the 1975 Cannes festival. Stelling’s next films - experimental, autobiographical, historical tales of suppressed passions, themes of deception and illusion, fantasies spiced with wit and humor - won him a cult following at international festivals.
Only Britain’s Derek Jarman has dared the same range of themes from epical self-portraits to a minimalist-cinema, microcosmic view of the modern world. Each of his films is an extension of the Jos Stelling oeuvre: Elckerlyc (1975), Rembrandt Fecit 1669 (1977), The Pretenders (1981), The Illusionist (1983), The Switchman (1986), and The Flying Dutchman (1995), a film that took seven years to bring to the screen and the offical Dutch entry in the competition at Venice this year.
In THE WAITING ROOM, Jos Stelling’s Erotic Tale for Regina Ziegler Filmproduktion, a young man is enchanted by a woman in an advertising poster. One day, in a railway station, his dream-goddess suddenly stands before him in flesh-and-blood. And while his wife is away in search of coffee, his sex-fantasy becomes a reality - before an astonished assembly of waiting passengers. Numbed, befuddled, exhausted, Eugène Bervoets (you saw him in The Flying Dutchman) awaits his wife’s return…
A large train station, it might be anywhere in a big city. Waiting passengers, some rae curiosly observing each other, some are too much involved with their own petty problems to pay attention to anything else. Our man, self- assured, practically undresses some of the woman present with his eyes, at least as long as his wife is absent, trying to get them some coffee. A beauty in blue returns his challenging looks, he can hardly believe it's true. Obviously, it is his lucky day today. By the time his wife returns our man has experienced some astonishing things under the watchful eyes of the fellow passengers. And most probably he will be much more reserved next time he sees a beautiful blonde.