Short Film Profile


An Australian narrator peels back the layers of his own expectations to reveal new perceptions gained from a year living in this iconic Dutch city. Originally shot on Super 8, then digitally re-animated and set to an evocative score, Buiten relishes the beauty, the nostalgia and challenge of experiencing a foreign city.

Film notes

Buiten is a short documentary offering an outsider’s view of Amsterdam.

Directors Statement:
Buiten is an attempt to capture both the joy and alienation experienced as an outsider living in a foreign city. As a product of globalisation, the film owes its genesis to an international middle class; to a group of privileged people able to have an extended ‘live in’ holiday in someone else’s country – someone else’s culture. I experienced this first hand during a year spent away from Australia living in the Netherlands in 2005/06. Buiten is my attempt to fathom my time there. To reconcile a sense of both belonging to, and exclusion from, the culture I experienced.

Stylistically Buiten owes much influence to city symphony films. In particular I had seen Joris Ivens’ 1929 Amsterdam film, Regen and wanted to create a response to this work. However, I felt my film needed to reflect the subjective nature of my observations and therefore Patrick Keiller’s fictionalised UK travelogues (London ,1994; Robinson in Space, 1997) also offered some inspiration for the style and content of this film. Thus I chose to partially remove myself from the film’s story by interviewing fellow Australian, James English for the film’s voice over. I had met James whilst attending Dutch language classes in Amsterdam. He had lived in the city around roughly the same time as myself and therefore could offer a different version of experience to accompany my filmed images.

I also wanted the film to engage with authenticity in the digital age – to outwardly question the relationship between the finished film and the world it claims to represent. To that end, the Super 8 footage was digitised and re-coloured in a bright, brash palette . Each shot was then re-framed by freezing a still moment in time and digitally scribbling out a small portion of the image to reveal the original footage underneath. This effect makes the film sit somewhere between the imagined and the documented.
Amsterdam Travel City Symphony Essay super 8




Copyright © 2008 William Head

Previous screenings

Film Fest @ Falls | 2009
5 Jun – 7 Jun | Falls Creek, Australia

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Information on this profile is provided by the film owners and/or compiled from available sources | Profile updated 20 May 2009