After attending technical school for three years, he went on to study electrical engineering. In the first few years after the Second World War he worked first as a journalist and film critic.
At the advice of the filmmaker Alberto Cavalcanti he decided to enter the world of film through electrical engineering as a sound technician. In the late 1940s, he was an apprentice sound technician at the Epernay Studios in Paris and went on to work for the Polygoon Newsreel in Haarlem.
As a member of the Amsterdam Filmliga he organized successful film evenings and a film-music concert in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Houtrusthallen in The Hague. In 1951, he founded his own production company Spectrum Film.
Van Gasteren produced and directed around 80 films. His main subjects are water management, architecture and the survival syndrome.
He produced his first film BROWN GOLD in 1952, (directed by Theo van Haren Noman), a documentary about cocoa and chocolate commissioned by the Van Houten company, filmed on location in Ghana and the Netherlands. His most recent film THE GRIEF OF ROERMOND (2005/2006) is about the execution by the Germans of 14 civilians from Roermond on Boxing Day in 1944.
Out of my skull
Louis van Gasteren, 1965, 15 min.
Experimental film with stroboscopic effects and the sound surrounding the audience. Louis van Gasteren made this film when he was visiting professor at the Carpenter Center for Visual Arts at Harvard University at the invitation of Robert Gardner.
The film is introduced by Patricia Pisters, professor of Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam, who is working on a book about Van Gasteren. She will be interviewing the filmmaker following the screening of his film.
While researching Louis van Gasteren’s personal archive for her book on his work, Pisters came across documentation about the cult film Chappaqua, directed by Conrad Rooks.
Conrad Rooks was an American writer, director and producer most renowned for his 1972 filmed adaptation of Hermann Hesse’s novel Siddhartha.
In his early twenties, he became a troubled substance abuser (alcohol, cocaine, heroin, et al.). After years of addiction, he traveled to Europe seeking a new “sleeping cure” being offered by a medical doctor at a clinic in Zurich, Switzerland. According to Rooks, the cure was successful and he never abused substances again.
Conrad spent much of his life traveling the globe, living abroad for many years in such places as New Delhi, India and Pattaya, Thailand.
In 1966 Rooks wrote, directed and starred in his first film, Chappaqua, a semi-autobiographical exploration of the perils of drug addiction, the agony of withdrawal, and the author’s journey to Europe and success with the aforementioned “sleeping cure.” Starring William Burroughs as the medical director of a rehab clinic. The film won second prize at the Venice Film Festival.
Conrad Rooks, 1966, 82 min.
Interesting interview with Louis van Gasteren. (Language is in dutch):