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The legs of Marc Overmars



Tonight, Ajax plays Barcelona in the Champions League. A few days later Ajax matches up with Go Ahead Eagles. So what? Well, Ajax-football director Marc Overmars played for all three clubs. And in the same week, One Saturday Afternoon releases it’s first produced long documentary. The title? ‘The Legs of Marc Overmars’. Filmmaker and OSA co-founder Thomas Rijsman explains. 

What is this documentary about?

‘For those who don’t remember: Marc Overmars is a former Dutch football great, who won the Champions League with Ajax (in 1995) before he went out to play for Arsenal and Barcelona. The Spaniards paid over 40 million euro’s for Overmars. With that transfer fee, he is still the most expensive Dutch player ever. Now he works for Ajax, as a director of football business. Because of the title of the documentary you might suspect the film is about his football carreer. But no: it is much more about a young and talented sports journalist – Annemarie Postma – who was and still is a huge fan of Overmars, even though she is in her mid-twenties by now. I challenged her to write about her still being crazy about a former football player, and followed her during the proces of writing her most personal story ever.’

Benen Overmars (origineel)

Marc Overmars, as a player of Ajax, against PSV. In the Olympic Stadium, Amsterdam. Date: january, 1995. Photo by Hans Heus.

Then how do you explain the title: ‘The Legs of Marc Overmars’?

‘Well, there is this famous picture, made in the nineties by renowned Dutch sports photgrapher Hans Heus. You only see the legs of a Ajax-player, pulling up his mud heavy sock. You see a beautiful rounded cav and most of his muscled upper leg, because back then they were still playing in really short shorts. Many woman complain about the long shorts they play in nowadays. But that’s a different story. Anyway. One day I hosted a sportsquiz in a small theatre and one of the questions was to guess who’s legs were on the picture. In the audience was Annemarie, who I knew from Het Parool, a Dutch newspaper for which we both worked as freelance sports journalists. She was the only one in the crowd to know the answer right away. Afterwards she explained, with great reluctancy, that she was and still is a huge fan of Overmars. This made me curious. How could a relatively young, but eventhough grown up woman, still be so crazy about a childhood idol? I posed her this question and she couldn’t really answer it right away. I immediately challenged her to write about it. As a way of self discovery. Out of my own experience I know, that’s what writing can do: teach you something about your inner self. Annemarie found it an interesting challenge but also felt really insecure about the idea. She said: ‘Who cares what I think and feel?’ Well, to keep things simple: the next morning I thought… this is interesting…. let’s film her during the whole process. So this is not so much a story about a football player, but much more about the insecurity of creation. A universal theme for anybody who has doubts about ones own creative outbursts. In this case: everything started with a picture of the legs of Marc Overmars. Hence the title of the movie.’

Annemarie met meiden in kleedkamer

Do you have experience with writing about yourself?

‘To be honest: in the same period that I challenged Annemarie, I was working on a book in which I myself, and my father, were the main characters. While I was working on the book, I discovered I had the same insecurity Annemarie shared with me. The feeling of: who cares about me? I never finished the book, to my great regret, even though I had already signed a contract with a publisher. I think by challenging Annemarie, I wanted to make my insecurity visible to people who have no idea about the insecurity that you feel when exposing your inner self to a greater public. It is a blessing to make a living out of self-discovery, but it takes a lot of guts either. You can feel very vulnerable by doing so.’

You never finished the book. And this was your first movie. Why did you believe you could pull this one of?

‘I had some experience with making short documentaries. Seven minute portraits of athletes, which I made and sold myself. I’ve also worked a short period as a reporter for a sports channel. And also have some on screen experience. Now I also work for Holland’s best viewed football talkshow (Studio Voetbal), with a lot of experienced collegues. A very inspirational work environment. And originally I was, and still am, in lesser degree though, a sportswriter. So I know a lot about the art of storytelling. That all together made me believe I could make a documentary. So why not!? My only partner this project was Tom Poederbach, a very experienced cameraman, who is a neighbour and friend of mine. And very young of heart and mind. Together we were a one-man-army. Tom did the filming, audio and editing. I directed and produced. Without his help this project could have never succeeded. He didn’t ask me for a penny. Just a lot of coffee. And his patience was extra ordinary. His experience is just mind blowing, having worked from the sixties untill now. His knowledge about the art of filmmaking is spectacular. Every time I was in doubt about the project, he gave me the confidence to continue. Many times he said: you are in the same process as (y)our main character. Always in doubt. But since I asked Annemarie to conquer her insecurity, I was obliged to do the same!’

Annemarie en Siem 2

Annemarie met klerenhanger

Are you happy with the result?

‘Very much so. Of course: it is a super low-budget movie. So it is a little bit rough here and there. But: the music score is especially composed fot this movie. Great work by Martijn de Man, who understood the mood of the film perfectly. And the graphics and website are done by design agency Van Lennep. I’am really happy with their efforts. The website is pretty cool too… you should really check it out! Great design, great visuals. Just by doing this, I’ve learned so much for a next project.’


What’s next for you?

‘I have some fun an big ideas. But I would like to work on a more professional level now. Even though I really enjoyed this lonesome-cowboy-attitude. But hey, you got to step it up, whenever you get the chance.’

And, oh yeah, what does Marc Overmars himself think of the movie?

‘He knows about the movie… and I invited him to attend the premiere. But he politely declined the offer. But hey, Marc, if you read this: come on, the movie theatre is just around the corner. I’ll save you a seat!’

The Legs of Marc Overmars premieres November 2nd. Location: The Movies, Amsterdam. Time: 11:30 (afternoon). 

The documentary will also be shown at the Total Football Festival, November 8th. Location: Felix Meritis, Amsterdam. Time: 22:00. 

We’ll keep you updated for other dates and locations. 

Check out the site: www.debenenvanmarcovermars.nl


Filmmaker Thomas Rijsman. Photo by Bill Tanaka