17 May 2014
It is not a sequel to the original 1975 feature film. Rather, “Return To The Hiding Place” is a re-telling of the true story of Corrie ten Boom with an expanded look at the Dutch resistance movement of World War II.
Many interested in the story have seen “The Hiding Place,” the decades-old film which featured the tale of ten Boom, known for hiding Jews in her family’s watchmaker shop in Haarlem, Netherlands during the Nazi occupation.
The new film, which opens Friday May 23 at Knickerbocker Theatre in downtown Holland, includes the ten Boom character (portrayed by actress Mimi Sagadin). But the focus is on the younger activists in the resistance movement who fought against the Nazis in a variety of ways.
Keith Seccombe is a local actor who has a small part in the movie, which was filmed in several locations around West Michigan as well as in the Netherlands. Seccombe worked with several of the major actors.
“Hans Poley (actor David Thomas Jenkins) was probably the most well known member of the underground fighters with the Dutch resistance,” Seccombe said of Poley, the first of the Jews to be hidden by the ten Booms.
“He was eventually captured by the Nazis and sent to a prison work camp and scheduled to be executed,” he added.
Seccombe, 70, plays the camp doctor who secretly helps Poley escape.
“I won’t tell you how – you’ll have to see the movie,” he smiled.
A CAST OF CHARACTERS
The movie also stars Craig Robert Young as Piet Hartog a resistance fighter whose love interest is Aty van Worerden (Rachel Spencer Hewitt), who also happens to be Corrie ten Boom’s niece. Hartog helps them in the hiding of Jews.
Probably the best known actor in the film is John Rhys-Davies. He’s had roles in three of the “Harry Potter” films and in two of the “Indiana Jones” movies.
Rhys-Davies plays a Jewish rabbi – Eusi – who is one of the Jews hidden in the upstairs of the ten Boom watchmaker shop.
Seccombe has been in several independent films shot in Michigan. “This isn’t a huge production, but compared to some of the ‘indies’ this has a pretty decent size budget with some name actors,” he said.
LOCAL SPOTS ON THE SCREEN
Although some of the film was shot in the Netherlands, directors Peter and Josiah Spencer selected areas in Dutch-influenced West Michigan to film much of the action. In the city of Holland, parts of Windmill Island (a natural), Centennial Park and Hope College all show up on the big screen.
“The Nazis would attempt to recruit Dutch young people in college,” Seccombe noted of the use of the Hope campus.
"Although the ten Boom character is better known to most audiences, the film spends considerable time with the more youthful members of the resistance (ten Boom was well into her 40s when the war started).
The stately Felt Mansion in Holland, now often used for weddings, receptions and other special events, is also seen in the film.
The Baert Baron Mansion on Church St. in Zeeland was used extensively in interior scenes.
But Seccombe’s film segments with Jenkins were shot at a winery near Manistee – in old barns which could be made to look like cabins in a prison work camp.
One grand tale left untold in the first Hiding Place film is an extra intense one. After the resistance gets wind of a Nazi plan for the “termination” of a Jewish orphanage, Poley and his cohorts hatch a plan to evacuate the children and lead them to safety.
FILM COMES TO FRUITION
Filming began on the project in 2010, and the completed movie debuted in England several years ago. But it is just this month being officially released in the U.S. It has won several film festival awards.
The Dove Foundation granted the film its “faith-based” seal because of its strong Christian message, with a caution for violence (the film is rated PG-13).
Seccombe recently learned anew that the film’s story still resonates today. He met Diet Eman, a member of the Dutch resistance now living in Grand Rapids. Eman’s story was depicted as part of a stage musical in April at Blythefield Hills Baptist Church in Rockford. (see our earlier article online)
“She is so bright and active, and now in her 90s,” he said of Eman, who did meet ten Boom (who died in 1983).
You can watch the trailer for the film online.
Showtimes at Knickerbocker Theatre, 86 E. 8th St. in Holland, are 1:30 and 4 p.m. May 23 and 24, with subsequent showings on May 27 and 28, at 4:00 p.m. only. All tickets are $7. The Knickerbocker information line is 616-395-7890. Tickets can be purchased in advance online, or may be available at the door.