Our Story

16 Amsterdams, 16 States, 4 Seasons, 2 Dutch Filmmakers, One American Adventure…

Left to Right: Rob Rombout, Ben Wolf, Colin Bannon, Rogier van Eck  (The Amsterdamers)

…What’s in a Name?

Apart from the capital of the Netherlands, there are some 20 Amsterdam’s across the world. The name is spread out from California to South Africa, from Svalbard to the Indian Ocean. Some are provincial towns, hamlets or inhabited islands – all are a long way from the Netherlands…  Amsterdam Stories USA is a road movie and mosaic portrayal of the little-known America that follows the migratory flow of the past through 16 North American towns, sites, and populated places, all of them called Amsterdam or New Amsterdam. Each little Amsterdam, embedded within a network of landscapes and encounters, is a different, unique story that progressively weaves an imaginary map of provincial America. From East to West, from New York (ex-New Amsterdam) to California, two filmmakers of Dutch descent establish a panorama of Middle America via a gallery of 16 tableaux. While tracing that single name across the map, they poetically examine the hinterlands, a little known America. This filmic immersion into the livelihoods and landscapes of the landscapes of a complex country is a new adventure:  sometimes solemn, offbeat, and touching. Over the past 10 years, Rob Rombout & Rogier van Eck have been tracking down the little-known places around the world. The first 80-minute documentary, Amsterdam Via Amsterdam (1996-2004, awarded three prizes in the US), was a sea expedition from the Dutch capital to the two islands of the same name at the globe’s northern and southern extremities, including the most isolated island in the world : Amsterdam. After Amsterdam Stories USA (to be shot between 2010 & 2011), the subsequent documentary will be Amsterdam Black & White (2013-2014), a dual portrait of New Amsterdam villages, one in the province of Drenthe (in the north of Holland), the other in Transvaal (South Africa).

Amsterdam Stories USA will shoot over the course of 120 days, spread across  four seasons, from 2010 through 2011, with a release scheduled for 2012.

The North American journey : New York, Amsterdam New Jersey, Amsterdam New York State, Amsterdam Pennsylvania, Amsterdam Ohio, Amsterdam Virginia, Amsterdam Indiana, Amsterdam Georgia, Amsterdam Mississipi, Amsterdam Texas, Amsterdam Missouri, Amsterdam Iowa, Amsterdam Wisconsin, Amsterdam Saskatchewan, Amsterdam Montana, Amsterdam Idaho, Amsterdam California.


Born in Amsterdamin 1953, Rob Rombout served for over 10 years as a teacher at several Film-Institutes. He gave workshops and lectures in the U.S, China, Russia, Europe and South America. He is vice-president of the French Aurhor organization SCAM in Belgium. His most recent documentaries include Cantonthe Chinese, QM2, The Enterprise, Les Passagers de l’Alsace. He is currently working on a portrait of the former Dutch writer Robert van Gulik.


Rogier van Eck was born in Paris, France, in 1952, from Dutch parents native from Zeeland. He lives in Brussels, Belgium, since 1975. His family lives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He works as director of documentaries and institutional films. Since 1982, he is a teacher at the INSAS, Brussel’s filmschool (Institut National Supérieur des Arts du Spectacle). He was a guest professor in Marrakech, Morocco (ESAVM), in Havana, Cuba (EICTV), in Lillehammer, Norway (Den Norske Filmskolen), in Harare, Zimbabwe (UZFTP), in Chiang-Mai, Thailand (TWIF). Till 1999 he has mainly worked as a film editor on documentaries, institutional films, feature films, artists’ videos. Between 1999 & 2006 as a producer, scriptwriter and director for Marc-Henri Wajnberg at Wajnbrosse Production (“Kaleidoscope Collection”, etc.). Together with Rob Rombout he co-produced, wrote, edited and co-directed the documentary “Amsterdam via Amsterdam” (80 minutes) : an expedition to two islands called Amsterdam at the North and South of the globe (broadcast on television across Europe). This film was Best Foreign Film, Route 66 Film Festival, Springfield, US 2005, Silver Remi Award, 39th WorlFest Independant Film Festival, Houston, US 2006, Nominated Best European Doc, International Film & Video Festival, Syracuse, US 2006.


Ben Wolf’s first short film as a DP, Gold Mountain, won the Student Academy Award.  Since then, he’s been a DP on a number of independent feature films, including James Ryan’s The Young Girl and the Monsoon, starring Terry Kinney and Diane Venora; David Sporn’s The Road from Erebus, Henry May Long, The Good Son, and Art Jones’ Going Nomad, starring Damian Young and Victor Argo. That last collaboration led to Jones’ second feature, 2003’s Lustre, starring Victor Argo, which won awards at the Tribeca, Avignon, and Arizona film festivals. Ben photographed Deborah Kampmeier’s Virgin, featuring Robin Wright Penn and Elizabeth Moss, which premiered at the 2003 IFP/LA Film Festival and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award.  His cinematography has been praised in a series of American Cinematographer articles, notably for Jones’ Going Nomad and Charles Weinstein’s Under the Bridge. Other film credits include The Last Word (short directed by Shirin Neshat, 2003 Tribeca Film Festival), Witnessing (doc directed by Aileen Ghee, Tribeca Film Festival), K (feature directed by Shoja Azari, IFP/LA, Venice, Thessalonica film festivals), The First Seven Years (short film, PBS), and the recent features Windows and Caleb’s Door.


Born in upstate New York in 1985, Colin Bannon started making film at an early age, garnering awards and accolades from  teen film festivals across the country. He graduated from the film department at Syracuse University in 2007, where made the documentary “True Stories From Rug City.” What started out as a scout for Van Eck and Rombout’s “Amsterdam Stories” turned into an award-winning film about an unlikely tourist destination: Amsterdam, New York.  He completed his first feature film, “Love Conquers Paul,” at age 24 which was released on DVD in 2010.


Born in New York City 1n 1986, producer Trevor Cohen has worked on numerous successful independent and hollywood studio productions. A graduate of Emerson College in 2007,  Cohen got his break with Adam Sandler’s company “Happy Madison Productions” and went on to direct a critically acclaimed short film “Public Access”, which was accepted into major film festivals in 2010.  Cohen does not speak Dutch, but he enjoys eating Boerenkoolstamppot.


3 Responses to “Our Story”

  1. Bob Eckstein August 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    Oh yeah.

  2. Walter Greenspan February 14, 2011 at 10:42 am #

    Don’t forget Brooklyn, original spelling Breuckelen.

    Despite common wisdom, Nieuw Amsterdam was not the first municipality in what is now New York State. In fact, Nieuw Amsterdam was not even the second.

    In 1646, the Village of Breuckelen was authorized by the Dutch West India Company and became the first municipality in what is now New York State. In 1652, the Village of Fort Orange, predecessor to the City of Albany, received similar municipal privileges. It was only in 1653 that the City of Nieuw Amsterdam was granted its charter.

    “At first the Dutch rulers of New Netherland did not draw a sharp line between their overall colonial or provincial government and that of their major settlement, which was called Nieuw Amsterdam. It was not until 1646 that the Dutch West India Company granted what appears to have been certain municipal privileges to the “Village of Breuckelen”–lineal ancestor of the present-day Brooklyn–located across the East River from Nieuw Amsterdam. Fort Orange, which later became the City of Albany, obtained similar municipal privileges in 1652. When in 1653 the “Merchants and Elders of the Community of Nieuw Amsterdam” won the right to establish what was called “a city government”, the municipality which became New York City was born.”

    Source: Local Government Handbook, page 3, 4th Ed., 1987, State of New York Department of State


  1. Lights…Camera…Action! | Greater Falls! - February 13, 2011

    […] Friday night, they were filming at Tracy’s restaurant in downtown Great Falls. Check out their website to learn more about their project. After Great Falls, they’re off to Amsterdam, Montana […]

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