Monday, October 13, 2014

Shooting Nema

Principal photography for Nema Aviona Za Zagreb began in 1964 in the Netherlands and lasted five years as director Louis van Gasteren raised money as he went. Filming eventually covered ten countries. Jan de Bont was the cinematographer on the principal scenes of the film including scenes in New York, Vancouver, San Francisco, Timothy Leary in Millbrook, and Meher Baba in India. Additional cameramen during the very long shooting period included Milek Knebel, Theo Hogers, Roeland Kerbosch, Olof Smit, Bert Spijkerman, Louis van Gasteren, and Kester Dixon (for final filming in 2012).
Van Gasteren worked hard to get an interview with Meher Baba for Nema Aviona Za Zagreb. In 1967 Meher Baba was near the end of his life and in strict seclusion. Through the help of numerous contacts with people he met in his travels who had met Baba in the 60s, including Irwin Luck, Rick Chapman, and Robert Dreyfuss, Van Gasteren was at last able to reach Baba's secretary and arrange a meeting. Van Gasteren told Baba, "The appearance of the Avatar in my film is more than functional, it is necessary, to give all the other happenings and sequences the final and right dimension." The terms were that the shooting could only take place on September 20, 1967, during a short period when Baba would be coming out of seclusion for three hours in order to wash the feet of seven lepers, the last of such an occasion in Baba's life. Van Gasteren was told that if he was there on time, he could film and interview Baba. Van Gasteren arrived in Bombay on September 17, and at Meherazad at precisely 9:00 A.M. on September 19, accompanied by cameraman Jan de Bont and soundman Peter Brugman, and was shown around the location in preparation for the following day's shoot and met Baba. The following day, September 20, the crew filmed forty minutes of film footage of Baba and the surrounding area, including the interview seen in the film.
Filming stalled in 1969. After two attempts to complete the film in the 70s and 80s, a final attempt to edit the film was begun in 2009 by filmmaker and editor Ilja Lammers who began to gather and assemble the material. The 35mm film was digitized by EYE Film Institute Netherlands in 2010. Completion financing was received from Netherlands Film Fund and EYE Film Institute and the film was finished in 2012, 48 years after principal photography began. The film premiered at EYE on Van Gasteren's 90th birthday. Gasteren was present at the opening.
The film is in Dutch and English, with small amounts of French, Italian, Serbian, and Spanish. Available with Dutch or English subtitles.

From Wikipedia. Public domain and co-licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-SA) and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL).

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