Miss Minoes, which becomes available today on DVD, was released to acclaim in the Netherlands in 2001. “It won their equivalent of an Oscar Best Picture and Best Actress” says Ed Arentz. The managing director of Music Box Films, the distribution company that has brought Miss Minoes to the United States, felt it was a classic when he first saw it but was able to acquire the film only recently. “It’s an example of the wonderful European kid/family films that largely go unseen here,” he says. Bringing it to the U.S. “was an effort on our part to reclaim this fairly recent classic.”
Based on the novel Minoes, the film is about a cat who turns into a young woman and befriends a struggling journalist, helping him gather information about a respected town leader who is, in actuality, not the good person he pretends to be. Arentz notes the author, Annie Schmidt, is so revered in the Netherlands that there is a statue to her in Amsterdam.
Arentz says he has watched the movie two or three times – notable for someone who says, “I rarely watch a movie more than once.” Miss Minoes “has something of wider value than just for cat-nuts,” he adds, describing the lead performance by Carice van Houten as “Audrey Hepburn-esque as she clambers over rooftops in her green skirt and high heels.”
And all the cats … “I thought at first they were animatronics,” Arentz recalls. But they are real cats, highly trained. Although, he shares, “I saw out-takes where they didn’t hit their mark. It was pretty funny.”
The dubbing is another attribute Arentz feels was well-done. With British dubbing, the characters’ British accent adds an exotic aspect. “It’s a more storybook quality – not something that happens just down the street,” he says.
“The main challenge was creating a new digital version from the camera negative,” Arentz says. He notes that, in the decade since Miss Minoes was made, there have been a lot of changes in how films are presented. “We went back to the original camera negative with the producers, did an HD digital master and then created the DVDs.”
Arentz refers to Miss Minoes as a reclamation project, in a sense. “It’s part of our programming strategy to obtain ‘art-house’ films for kids – universal stories that happened to be produced in Europe,” he says. He expects it to be “one of those ’sleeper’ cult films that parents and children discover” and that are passed along to the next generation.
Arentz also spoke with KIDS FIRST! as a guest on our Coming Attractions radio show.
Released theatrically in some U.S. cities last Christmas season, Miss Minoes comes out today, June 12, on home video DVD and, simultaneously, is available on Internet downloads and cable Video on Demand.
Photos: Miss Minoes poster (top), Ed Arentz (middle), Carice van Houten as Miss Minoes (bottom)