The Player

De Speler

  • John Appel
  • Netherlands
  • 2009
  • 80 min
  • World Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary, IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary
As this film makes clear, its director John Appel has a deeply rooted interest in gambling. His father was an ardent horserace player, which caused problems in the family to say the least. Shortly before he died, Appel's father wrote him a letter while he was still at school. This letter serves as Appel's point of departure for an investigation into the causes of his father's destructive gambling mania, which he blends in the film with the stories of several other men, alter egos of his father. Interestingly, it is almost exclusively men who suffer from this dependence on gambling. Using family photos and films, Appel relates anecdotes to characterize his father and shed light on the events that led to his downfall. In between, we visit the horse races, where we meet an extremely good-humored bookie named Harry. Another Harry is a compulsive liar and gambling addict who is in jail for the umpteenth time. Even there, he cannot resist being deceptive. And we see a poker player who makes his tragic way from a Spartan hotel room to the casino each day. In Appel's psychological portrait of his father, it gradually emerges just what drives the gamblers and why their addiction is so difficult to put a stop to.


  • 80 min
  • color / black and white
  • video
  • Spoken languages: Dutch
  • Subtitles in: English
John Appel
Carmen Cobos for Cobos Films, Carmen Cobos for Cobos Films BV
Erik van Empel
Mario Steenbergen
Mark Wessner

IDFA history

World Premiere
IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary
IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary

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IDFA history

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