Filmmaker John Appel

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    John Appel (Wognum, 1958) has a preference for ordinary people and lonely heroes in his films, which deal with themes like melancholia, memories and death.

    Appel graduated from the Dutch Film and Television Academy in 1987. He made his first long documentary in 1993: Johnny Meijer, a portrait of an accordion virtuoso at the end of his career. His breakthrough came with André Hazes - She Believes in Me, which won the Joris Ivens Award for Best Feature Length Documentary at IDFA 1999 and became a big cinema hit in the Netherlands. His more personal film The Player (2009), about his father's gambling addiction, was crowned best Dutch documentary at IDFA. Wrong Time Wrong Place was the opening film of IDFA 2012. Appel is regularly mentoring at workshops, at places like Binger Doc Lab, the Film Academy, IDFA and the Greenhouse Development Program. He has also worked as a cameraman.

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    André Hazes - She Believes in Me

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    Johnny Meijer

    • John Appel
    • 1993

    Amsterdam-based Johnny Meijer is generally considered the world's best accordion player. He became the talk of the town in the fifties when he did many shows abroad and received the honorary title of 'King of the accordion'. Accordion-music is often associated with mellow tunes and jigging crowds, but Johnny Meijer's music was of another sort. He regularly played Jordanese singalongs, to be sure, but in addition he also played super-fast swing, Rumanian and classical music. He earned international recognition as a jazz-accordionist.The discrepancy between jazz and American folk music determined his entire musical career. He declined invitations to go and play in America, for instance. He was too much attached to the Amsterdam working-class district 'de Jordaan' to leave it for a long period of time. And a folk musician is what he remained, along with his cousin Manke Nelis who passed away recently.Although his name remained a household name and his 75th birthday was still celebrated with performances in the 'BIM-huis' and at the North Sea Jazz Festival, Meijer's career slowly came to a dead end. In his final years he was hardly asked to do shows anymore, partly due to his unpredictable character and dipsomania. At the end of his life, the 'King of the accordion' played gigs at weddings and parties and spent his days in boredom and loneliness.The film JOHNNY MEIJER is a portrait of an accordion virtuoso in the twilight of his career. The first shots were made when Meijer went to buy a tuxedo for a guest appearance in the Amsterdam 'Concertgebouw'. This performance was to be his last: two weeks later, on 8 January 1992 he passed away at the age of 79. The documentary shows how Johnny Meijer lives on in the minds of the people who have been close to him, particularly his son Cor.

    André Hazes - She Believes in Me

    • John Appel
    • 1999

    A portrait of the Dutch singer André Hazes (1951-2004) at the height of his fame.

    De romantische lijn

    • John Appel
    • 1997

    For generations of women, Walra‘s linen is inextricably bound up with the trousseau. It is not for sale in stores, only through door-to-door sales, and is offered along with cunning saving plans. In recent years the company has been successfully applying sales techniques after the American model: for example, the ‘linen show’ is a variant of the well-known ‘Tupperware Party’. DE ROMANTISCHE LIJN examines the motives of the 250 odd Walra consultants, who tour the country with their suitcases full of washcloths and pillowcases for a petty reward. The scenario of DE ROMANTISCHE LIJN was developed during IDFA‘s scenario workshop in 1995, under supervision of Pieter Verhoeff, and was written by Antoon Stuurkenboom. John Appel (1958) previously directed JOHNNY MEIJER (1993), a documentary about a virtuoso accordion player from the Jordaan quarter in Amsterdam. Appel is currently shooting a film about the impending relocation of the brothels in the Spijker Quarter in Arnhem.

    Het beloofde land

    • John Appel
    • 2000

    Is society as a whole responsible when someone passes away unnoticed?

    The Last Victory

    • John Appel
    • 2003

    How a quarter in the Italian city of Siena prepares itself for the traditional horse races, yearning for the first victory in years.

    En terecht! - Naomi en haar moeder

    • John Appel
    • 2003

    Naomi lives with her manic-depressive mother, but accepts the disorder as an ineluctable fact.

    Rip My Sweet Cousin

    • John Appel
    • 2004

    Radio documentary about a lamppost that has become a tombstone.

    There Goes My Heart

    • John Appel
    • 2005

    Loneliness, drug use and unattained desires characterise the latter years of the seven residents of the only Dutch "home for elderly junkies."

    The Player

    • John Appel
    • 2009

    Using his own father's gambling addiction as a springboard, director John Appel seeks out the true nature of people who cannot live without "playing."

    Wrong Time Wrong Place

    • John Appel
    • 2012

    Survivors of the massacre on the Norwegian island of Utøya tell their story and the role that chance played in it.

    Eritrea Stars

    • John Appel
    • 2015

    The Dutch city of Gorinchem welcomes Eritrea’s soccer team with open arms. Will the refugee players make their dreams come true?