André Hazes was one of the most popular interpreters of the Dutch torch song. For more than twentyfive years, he has been singing his hit songs like Een beetje verliefd and Zij gelooft in mij to packed halls. For this documentary, filmmaker John Appel closely followed the Amsterdam singer for a number of months. He attended performances, he took him back to the cramped house in Amsterdam where the singer spent his childhood, and he observed Hazes with his wife and two children in their spacious current house on the water. We also see the artist at work in the studio, and conferring with his agents. ANDRÉ HAZES – ZIJ GELOOFT IN MIJ draws a picture of a man with a hard and often lonely life. Still after all these years, the tension before a show rises considerably. Although even students are singing along his songs verbatim, Hazes is not quickly satisfied and not really self-assured. What should have been a highlight in his career, a performance in the large ‘Plaza the toros’ in the Spanish city of Benidorm, turns into disappointment: only a few hundred visitors pay a visit to the arena. The constant pressure takes its toll. At one time, Hazes’ third marriage is even on the verge of collapse. In circumstances like this, it is clear that a big house is not a guarantee for happiness, neither is a wall covered with golden records. Then the lyrics of Hazes’ songs, often dealing with loneliness and unrequited love, get more substance.
John Appel has worked as a professional cameraman/director since ‘87. As an independent filmmaker he directed more than 35 documentaries for cinema and television. Johnny Meijer (1993), a portrait of a Dutch world famous accordeon virtuoso, was his first film for cinema.
In 1999 he won the IDFA Joris Ivens Award for Best Feature Length Documentary for the film André Hazes -She believes in me. This film about Holland’s most popular singer is the most successful documentary in Dutch cinema released in 50 years.
His film The Last Victory (2003), about the Palio, the famous horse race in Siena (Italy), won many awards and was nominated for Best European Documentary 2004. In 2009 he won the IDFA Award for Best Dutch Documentary for his film The Player, also nominated for IDFA Award for Best Feature Length Documentary 2009. This personal film, based on memories to his gambling father, was awarded the yearly Filmfund Award for Artistic Succes 2010 and other international awards.