An honest man has nothing to hide
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An honest man has nothing to hide


“I know these modest museum which you call ‘canal houses’. And I also know why there are no curtains hanging in front of the windows: that was a decision of the Synod of Dordrecht. An honest man has nothing to hide.”
I read this in an interview with the Hungarian writer Magda Szabò.
From this moment on I started looking more and more into the canal houses in Amsterdam. Especially during winter months when it gets dark early, the scenes of the illuminated interiors, where seldom someone is visible make me fantasize.
The big high windows with behind them the chandeliers and the walls covert with wallpaper lit by artificial light, the stylish rooms with the beautiful plaster ceilings and the cords on the open curtains are show-boxes sliding by in the cold winter evenings. I cannot stop watching at the interiors with their still lives with beautiful bouquet’s and antique vases. Now and then there are people visible, eating or reading the newspaper. What is going on inside?

The film consists of a sequence of images of silent interiors of canal houses in Amsterdam, on winter evenings. These illuminated ‘museum’, shamelessly exhibited to the spectator, show a very particular Dutch phenomenon. It arises the question, is the director with her gaze violating the privacy of the inhabitants?


language: Dutch/English subtitles
running time: 23 minutes
premiere: International Film Festival Rotterdam 2009
director: BarBara Hanlo
production: PEP
sales: PEP / Eye Film Institute
print source: PEP
scenario: BarBara Hanlo
camera: BarBara Hanlo
editing: Jan Wouter van Reijen
sound: BarBara Hanlo/Jan Wouter van Reijen
print: DigiBeta
festivals and screenings: International Film Festival Rotterdam, The Netherlands 200 / Dutch Film Festival Utrecht, The Netherlands 2009 / Milwaukee Film Festival, Milwaukee USA 2009 / Filmbank Tour The Netherlands 2009 / Wilhelmina Huiskamer Galerie Amsterdam 2012 / Eye Filmmuseum Amsterdam, Ways of Seeing by University of Amsterdam, 29 feb 2020,

Thinking of Holland

(...) The latest Film Bank Tour zooms in on the Dutch Free State, with premieres by BarBara Hanlo and Rosemarie Blank and a 'campy' polder musical by Wim van der Linden and Wim T. Schippers.

"An honest man has nothing to hide," Hanlo paraphrases in the title of her film all those who believe that the violations of our privacy and the integrity of our lives are not that bad in the post 9/11 space age. "After all, you are also filmed everywhere on the street," says a male voice in the pre-title sequence. Then the images speak for themselves and ask their own questions about private life and voyeurism. An honest man will receive an unexpected topical value in the month in which you can virtually walk through your own street via the latest Google gadget Streetview, while you see yourself coming out through your own front door. Although Hanlo remained discreet: she filmed few (recognizable) people and only investigated her fascination for all those windows that work as sets, wings, mirrors, vistas, shop windows or projection screens. They are small plays from which the human presence has often disappeared. The moments that have been called 'temps mort' in the film after Antonioni. Solidified time. Breaks in existence. How life continues after the evacuation.

Dana Linssen,Filmkrant 02-15-2016