The Greenaway Alphabet

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Netherlands | 2017 | 68 minutes | Saskia Boddeke

Filmmaker Peter Greenaway and his perceptive 16-year-old daughter Zoë embark on an alphabetical exploration of his lifelong fascinations, exposing his artistic core while also crafting a penetrating portrait of the man and his family, in a playful journey directed by Greenaway's wife, multimedia artist Saskia Boddeke.

Artist and filmmaker Peter Greenaway is a collector. He collects images and ideas, and then arranges them into cinematic encyclopedias. His movies can come across as cold and calculating, but only if you don't realize how personal they actually are. Saskia Boddeke's artfully built portrait of the man unlocks his life by exploiting a technique he might have used himself: the alphabet. In a series of interviews, he reacts to different letters with surprisingly intimate results. A is for Amsterdam, where he lives after spending 32 years in London. B is for Birds, which leads to an extended section about his father, an amateur ornithologist, who is the reason he included birds in so many of his early films. In lesser hands, this could have ironically been a rigid and overly intellectual documentary, but Boddeke happens to be his wife, and he's joined onscreen by his teenage daughter Zoe. Not only do they have a solid understanding of his work and legacy, they know him as a person and refuse to allow him to bullshit. The result is a playful documentary that works as an effective primer on his work. Whether you've seen just a few or all of his films, The Greenaway Alphabet will inspire you to visit or revisit them with fresh eyes.

Director Biography
Saskia Boddeke was born in Castricum, Netherlands. She is a multimedia Dutch artist who later became involved with operas after her education in Amsterdam. As a multimedia artist, Boddeke uses sophisticated visual elements, special effects lighting, and computer projected images to immerse her audiences with audio-visual narratives. Her opera, "Giovanna d' Acro," premiered at the Farnese Theater in Parma and was nominated as a Best New Production by the International Opera Award for the Spoleto Festival of 2017.

Sponsored by Red Element Studios, Seattle Film Institute

  • Director: Saskia Boddeke
  • Principal Cast: Peter Greenaway
  • Premiere Status: North American
  • Country: Netherlands
  • Year: 2017
  • Running Time: 68 minutes
  • Producer: Julia Emmering
  • Cinematographers: Ruzbeh Babol, Sander Snoep, Saskia Boddeke
  • Editors: Gys Zevenbergen
  • Website: Official Film Website
  • Filmography: Debut Feature Film
  • Language: English
  • Format: DCP
  • International Sales: Wide House