it can get pitch dark in

Pim de la Parra

Pim de la Parra

For, after all, not so many years, he was my brother Wim's partner.
Their cooperation started in the mid-1960s and ended in the late 1970s with Wan Pipel.

Apart from those movies I made the stills for, their productions, as far as I can remember, include Joszef Katus' Minder Gelukkige Terugkeer naar het Land van Rembrandt, Obsession, and Rubia's Jungle. Katusz was directed by Wim (boy, did he go in for that long-title fashion), all those others here by Pim. Those less than fifteen years were enough to burn them into the Dutch collective memory as Pim & Wim.
One of the greatest, if not the greatest, international Dutch hit movies of all time was Obsession. Starring German actor-producer Dieter Geisler, its main attraction was the music by Bernard Herrman, composer for the three maybe best Hitchcock flicks. Photographed by Frans Bromet in Eastmancolor, it was sold to almost a hundred countries. Alas, Pim & Wim had given Geisler all the rights except those for Holland; they made a satisfactory bundle but Geisler made a lot more. Because of that, zur Wiedergutmachung Geisler co-produced Blue Movie which was a smash hit, of course; and this time they did have the international rights.
After Blue Movie Wim directed VD and Pim Frank & Eva, which both did reasonably well. Followed Dakota with all its disasters. Pim then kept Wim at work with several productions (Alicia and Mens-Erger-Je-Niet that did pretty well at the box office). As Wim told me during that last production, he felt Pim did this to guarantee the production of his dream movie Wan Pipel, but Wim didn't like it one bit. He even considered having me direct those projects in future, leaving his own hands free for more interesting things. Meanwhile, Pim directed My Nights. In spite of the fact that this was an awful flop, there still was money left over from Blue Movie to get on with Pim's most ambitious project:
Wan Pipel.
Wan Pipel means One People in Taki-Taki or Srnan Tongo, the common language of Suriname. (Don't laugh, present-day Antillean-language Papiamentu spelling is just as ridiculous.) It was supposed to inspire the people of Suriname, which consists of many different races and creeds, to unite into one great collectively cooperating power. This because they had a referendum coming on, which was won by a great majority by those opting for independence. After that, 40% of the population left for Holland - among which Pim, who was one of the first heading the stampeding throng choosing to keep their Dutch nationality.

The film went over budget time after time. Not only that, Dutch star Willeke van Ammelrooij (not a great complainer at all) complained she was being discriminated against by the rest of the cast as a honkie; in that respect, at least, the Surinamese seemed to act as One People. Her co-star was Borger Breedveld whose acting was on the same level of a village community presentation as most of his colleagues'.
The movie was an incredible flop. Almost the only people who came to watch were Surinamese living in Holland, who weren't used to the Dutch ticket system and just selected the seats they fancied, which resulted in audience quarrels. After it was all over, which didn't take very long, all money (and then some) earned by Blue Movie had gone. What it did pay for was Pim being invited to all those radical third-world film festivals to show his product. The same happened to a Curaçao guy named Felix de Rooij, with also pretty inferior movies; and, I'm sure, to lots of other people. I remember how I once burst out laughing upon reading how Suriname dictator Desi Bouterse held a speech at some African congress, that Suriname had finally won Independence after a long struggle with Colonial Imperialist Holland. In reality, Holland was only too relieved to see 'em go, and good riddance, too.

At least I did get paid for the pictures I took at the night of the premiere, after having printed the stills (if you talk with the crew members everybody made those stills — that's fine, as long as it's understood I did not). But Pim then asked me to make slides from those ECN negatives. For which he still owes me. Years later, whenever I ran into him him, he always started off by remarking he still had to pay me for those; I guess to rub it in how asinine I'd been to have trusted him. The original bill was for Nƒ1200, which works out at €3016 now (2006) counting a very modest 4% interest per annum.

The Drama Develops
Pim then went on to disappear to Aruba. After a couple of years he suddenly turned up in Curaçao, where out of pity he was given to direct an amateur production of A Streetcar Named Desire; out of totally misplaced loyalty I helped him out. He was incredibly skinny and just devoured all food he could wrap himself around. My theory (just throw it out for whatever it's worth) is he virtually had been living on cocaine for those past years. He made a new translation of the play because he felt the one around didn't make it (and he charged the amateur group for the work). In the last week before the premiere, he managed to go 400% (may even have been 1200) over budget by promising everybody everything they wanted. The play was a flop, and the group had to pay everybody back (they very decently paid me my full fee, which was very low anyway) while Pim hastily skipped to Holland. He has actually been bragging to me how smart he had been in dealing with those suckers; they'd given him a house to stay in, tickets to Amsterdam and everything.

He came back here a short time later to make a movie Odyssée d'Amour, on Bonaire, produced by my friend Dorna de Roveroy, with mainly the cast of that ill-fated Streetcar production as a sweetener for services rendered. I only heard Pim was suggested to have me do stills for it; but Pim 'had asked me and I had other appointments.' In point of fact, Pim had never contacted me. (Dorna tells me she didn't produce this, but she doesn't mind a mix-up with Lea Wongsoredjo at all; doesn't change the story one bit.)

Its since then I've started calling Pim "Wan Pimel", a double-Dutch pun where piemel means cock, but is better here translated as "asshole".
Frans Rasker
Producer Frans Rasker was totally disgusted with Pim's foolhardy stupidity:
Now that the guy's got a great chick for a producer, he has to go and pick a fight with her!
Pim went on to make what I believe are scores of films then, all small-time and all flops. I've seen one of them and it was not worth looking at, but he claimed he had taught hundreds of a new generation of new Dutch filmmakers the ropes with those sorry efforts. (It would certainly explain the level many of them are working on.) He finally went back to Suriname; one can only hope, for him at least, that somebody in Holland misses his presence. Almost nothing's impossible... By that way, Pim himself is superstitious as hell. He was always checking out his biorhythm and once told me, in all conviction, that if you draw a circle on the ground around a chicken the bird can't possibly get out of it. Seriously! A shameful degeneration of a guy who, when I first met him, used to reply to that foolish question What's your [astrologic] sign? - Swan Lake.

Wim told me then that Pim had sold all the rights for $corpio productions to a publisher, including those he had no rights for at all; Wim had to buy all those back, which he did in the last two years of his life.

The last I heard about Pim was that he and Borger Breedveld, the Ham from Surinam in Wan Pipel, in 2005 had set up a Film Academy in Paramaribo, of all places. In Holland, Borger is nicknamed the Goebbels of Suriname, as he manages PR for dictator Desi Bouterse, notorious among many other things (like torturing and killing) for having been convicted in Holland for his large-scale cocaine trade.

Well, that explains a lot.

Some people have thought I made all of this up.
No, not a single word!
movie stills


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