Murdered Dutch film director to receive Hollywood makeover

Helen McCormack
Thursday 15 September 2005 01:04
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Independent film production companies in New York and the Netherlands have announced they will remake three of the films by the director, whose controversial works led him to be targeted and murdered by a Muslim fanatic late last year.

The veteran Hollywood actor Steve Buscemi, the darling of Quinten Tarantino and the Coen brothers, and whose previous credits include Reservoir Dogs, has already been signed up to the project.

Other actors who have committed themselves include Stanley Tucci and Bob Balaban, who starred in several high-profile films in the 1970s, including Midnight Cowboy and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and has been in a string of independent films since.

The first of the three works selected to be re-made is 06, van Gogh's 1994 film about two people who meet on a phone sex line who embark upon a relationship without ever meeting.

The second, Blind Date, released in 1996, charts the emotional journey of grieving parents who try to re-invent themselves through a series of personal ads. The third, Interview, released in 2003, follows the experience of a political journalist who falls out with his editor and is relegated to interviewing a soap star.

The production companies Ironworks Productions and Column Productions are expected to begin work early next year, the website screendaily.com reported.

The news emerged at the Toronto Film Festival, where van Gogh's work, which spans almost three decades, was honoured with a selection of screenings and a panel discussion about the mistreatment of Muslim women.

The murder of van Gogh as he cycled to his office caused revulsion in the Netherlands and prompted a series of attacks on mosques, churches and Islamic schools across the country. It also hardened the tough, anti-immigration line taken by the centre-right government.

Van Gogh's killer, Mohammed Bouyeri, 27, shot the director seven times before stabbing him and slitting his throat. He then used the knife to pin a note to his chest in which he threatened to take the life of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born Dutch politician who collaborated with the film-maker to create Submissions, a television project accused by its critics of portraying Islam as a misogynous religion which condoned violence against women, and featured footage of Ali's naked body, inscribed with text from the Koran.

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Ms Ali was forced to go into hiding for several months following the murder. Bouyeri initally refused to participate in his two-day trial, conducted in July this year, but then declared that he had killed van Gogh, and would do "precisely the same thing" faced with the same situation again.

The Amsterdam-born Muslim of Moroccan descent had earlier told his brother that if Netherlands had had the death penalty, he "would have begged for it." He was jailed for life in July, becoming the first to be sentenced under tough new anti-terrorism legislation bought in following the killing.

The judge who passed sentence, Udo Willem Bentinck, said that the film director had been "mercilessly slaughtered" in a politically motivated murder which aimed to subvert Dutch democracy.

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