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RELEASES Netherlands

Sint set to scare Dutch adults

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The inspiration for Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas, is celebrated in the Netherlands on December 5, the eve of his Saint Day, December 6. Like Santa Claus, “Sinterklaas” is a good man who brings presents to children that have been nice over the year. But unlike Santa, Saint Nick has always had a darkly gothic undercurrent, which Dutch director Dick Maas has pushed to new extremes in his latest horror film, simply titled Sint.

The film is the biggest release on Dutch screens today, invading some 96 cinemas, courtesy of distributor A-Film. This week’s three other new releases – Mike Leigh’s Another Year [+see also:
film review
trailer
interview: Mike Leigh
film profile
]
, Rodrigo Garcia’s Mother and Child [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
and US comedy The Other Guys – will play on a total of only 63 screens combined.

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Sint is an ambitious horror tale full of special effects and gore that has been grafted onto a well-known legend and children’s holiday in the Netherlands. This unusual combination has caused some friction locally, with the gothic-looking marketing materials of the film deemed inappropriate for children by some (the film is rated 16 but posters at bus stops, for example, can be seen by people of all ages).

All the media controversy will no doubt be welcomed by writer-director Maas, one of the few local directors of purely mainstream entertainments (Moordwijven, Amsterdamned) whose film re-imagines the saint as a revenge-thirsty Medieval bishop who appears whenever it’s a full moon on the night of December 5.

The film was produced by the director and Tom de Mol for Parachute Pictures and Tom De Mol Productions, respectively.

The December 5 holiday is becoming a true ally of local films, with box-office hit Love Is All [+see also:
trailer
film profile
]
, a Sinterklaas-themed romantic comedy, selling over a million tickets in 2007 and early 2008. Director Martijn van Nellestijn’s annual Sinterklaas films aimed at children also recurring successes. The sixth in the series, Sinterklaas en het pakjes mysterie, was released last month and is already past the 100,000 mark this week, with business likely to increase as December 5 approaches.

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