Review: Parade (2017)

Parade (2017)

Directed by: Ferri Ronteltap | 78 minutes | documentary | With: Raymund van Santen, Nicole van Vessum, Terts Brinkhoff, Stephanie Louwerer, Eddie B. Wahr, Jeroen van Koningsbrugge, Hans Brandwacht

The summer can be calibrated annually at the Parade. The festival will be 27 years old in 2017 and in those 27 years it has become a household name. Every year they build a village full of small theaters and eateries in the cities of Rotterdam, The Hague, Utrecht and Amsterdam and in this way create “a surreal oasis in the middle of an urban environment, which appeals to the nostalgia of our childhood existence.”

What cannot be left behind after so many years of success is a documentary. The film offers the viewer a look behind the scenes of the Parade. In 78 minutes, the building of the festival is shown in broad outline. From theater makers who humbly enter the conversation for a place on the Parade to the person who chooses which soy oil is ethically responsible or not. The makers have interviews with the creator, the performers and the artists and try to paint a picture of what is involved in organizing the festival. That works, because as an outsider you certainly get a look behind the scenes.

But is it also a fascinating documentary? Not so much. Broadly speaking, we see the business and artistic leaders (Raymund van Santen and Nicole van Vessum) planning the festival from “application interview” to implementation, followed by conversations with builders, the creator and artists. And where the festival has to rely on the artists, it is the less fascinating part in the documentary. We see them rehearsing and polishing their performances. We see the choices they have to make and their motivations. But sometimes there is too little context. What is the original idea and how does it relate to the final performance? That’s a missed opportunity, because now it doesn’t feel finished.

Another missed opportunity is that the feeling of the Parade, however different it may be per person, is not reflected in the documentary. De Parade (rightly) credits itself with the fact that the artists have to move among the audience in order to win people over. This dynamic is one of the reasons that make the Parade such a special phenomenon. We only see a small part of it. Another special element for the artists (as evidenced by interviews in the film) is the fact that it is a traveling festival and that it is intensive and special for the makers. That could have been shown more.

‘Parade’ is now mainly a documentary that is of interest to the makers of the festival themselves. The balance lies too much with making the festival and only every now and then there are hints at what makes the festival so special. And because those are often the reasons why people come to the Parade, this film will appeal to those people less.

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