International Competition

The Player

John Appel

As this film makes clear, its director John Appel has a deeply rooted interest in gambling. His father was an ardent horserace player, which caused problems in the family to say the least. Shortly before he died, Appel’s father wrote him a letter while he was still at school. This letter serves as Appel’s point of departure for an investigation into the causes of his father’s destructive gambling mania, which he blends in the film with the stories of several other men, alter egos of his father. Interestingly, it is almost exclusively men who suffer from this dependence on gambling. Using family photos and films, Appel relates anecdotes to characterize his father and shed light on the events that led to his downfall. In Appel’s psychological portrait of his father, it gradually emerges just what drives the gamblers and why their addiction is so difficult to put a stop to.


John Appel

John Appel studied Classical Literature at the University of Amsterdam and graduated at the Netherlands Film Academy in 1987. He directed more than 40 films for cinema and television and developed a personal style in documentary filmmaking, close to his protagonists, which he calls ‘emotional research’. His films have won many international awards: the IDFA Award for Best Feature Length Documentary for She Believes in Me (1999), a nomination for Best European Documentary for The Last Victory (2003), the IDFA 2009 Award for Best Dutch Documentary for The Player and many other. Wrong time, Wrong Place was the opening film of IDFA 2012. His most recent film The Magic of Editing (2015) is about the artistic and ethical dilemmas in the editing room of documentaries. John Appel is mentor at many international workshops, such as the Greenhouse Development Programme in the Middle East (since 2006), Binger Doclab in Amsterdam (2005, 2010), Aristoteles Workshop in Romania (2010, 2013 and 2014). He gives masterclasses all over the world and was jury member in major festivals like IDFA, Karlovy Vary, Visions du Reel.

General sponsor

The Player

2009, 85', color/bw, video

Directed by:
John Appel

Screenplay by:
John Appel

Erik van Empel

Edited by:
Mario Steenbergen

Carmen Cobos

Produced by:
Cobos Films

Festivals & Awards:

The International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam - Dioraphte IDFA Award for Dutch Documentary