#15 | Autumn 2009 | e 3,50
Ella-June FOREVER! HareSay
Jan Bultheelâ€™s Hareport
Belgium or Bollywood
Indra Siera on Old Belgium
All that Jef
Misfortunates composer Jef Neve
French journalist Alex Masson recently interviewed some 20 emerging filmmaking talents from Flanders. The interviews can be found in ‘Belgian cinema from Flanders – Interviews with a new generation of filmmakers’ which is due to come out in September. A French-language version (‘L’autre cinema belge – Le renouveau flamand: entretiens avec une nouvelle generation de cinéastes’) is also available. The portraits are from Bart Dewaele. TO ORDER YOUR COPY: FLANDERSIMAGE@VAF.BE.
Inside 04 WIDESCREEN Dorothée van den Berghe’s My Queen Karo, which will be premiering at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival
07 SNEAK PEAK A first glimpse at Jan Verheyen’s Dossier K, the long-awaited follow-up to The Alzheimer Case (Memory of a Killer)
08 CHAT Bo director Hans Herbots introduces his young lead actress, Ella-June Henrard
14 PRODUCER Producer Tomas Leyers had his first feature selected for this year’s International Critic’s Week in Cannes
16 MAVERICK Felix van Groeningen on directing The Misfortunates, which after playing at Cannes is now heading for Toronto and The Hamptons
20 ANI.BE The making of Hareport turned out to be a lengthy journey, as its creator, Jan Bultheel, explains
22 IN FOCUS Indra Siera likes to have complete control when it comes to making films
26 CRAFTSMANSHIP Jazz pianist and composer Jef Neve about scoring for film
28 SEEN Flanders Image’s Cannes 2009 photo album
30 UNDER THE INFLUENCE Geoffrey Enthoven, whose The Over the Hill Band is selected for this year’s Montreal World Film Fest, talks about the things that inspire him
32 HOTSPOT Eyeworks producer Gunter Schmid on his favourite spots in Ghent
34 FANS Focus Features CEO James Shamus talks about one of his favourite films from Flanders
Receiving its premiere at this year's Toronto International Film Festival is Dorothée van den Berghe's second feature, My Queen Karo, starring Anna Franziska Jäger, Matthias Schoenaerts and César winner Déborah François. Ten-year-old Karo lives with her parents in an Amsterdam commune in the 70s. An only child, she leads a carefree existence in this utopia-for-adults where everything is to be shared by everyone. However it soon turns out that not all commune members are able to honour these ideals. Karo is torn between her love for her mother and her loyalty towards her father and his ideals as she comes to realise that nothing can stay the same forever. Producers are Frank Van Passel, Bert Hamelinck and Kato Maes for Caviar in Brussels. Doc & Film International represents the film internationally.
Your contact Karl DESMET: +32 2 352 25 61
sneak peak December 2009 will see the unveiling of Dossier K, the long-awaited followup to Erik Van Looy’s 2003 hit movie The
Alzheimer Case (aka Memory of a Killer). It also marks director Jan Verheyen’s tenth feature and after such films as Cut Loose, Team Spirit, Gilles and
Everything Must Go, it’s his most ambitious project to date.
director Jan Verheyen (r)
The Kanun Case Koen De Bouw and Werner De Smedt are back as Antwerp’s top crime investigators Vincke and Verstuyft. This time though, instead of chasing a contract killer, they are confronted with arms traffickers and a war within the Albanian mob. When Nazim finds out that his father has been killed in Antwerp, he turns to the centuries-old Albanian Kanun laws that specify how murder is supposed to be handled. A bloody gang war is the result. Vincke links Nazim’s father’s killing to a widespread arms trafficking network that he successfully dismantles, but step by step, both crime investigators begin to realise that they have been manipulated. Also starring are Hilde De Baerdemaeker, Marieke Dilles (who won a FIPA d’Or earlier this year for her role in The Emperor of Taste), Filip Peeters, Blerim Destani, R.kan Albay and Greg Timmermans (Ben X). Based on the novel by Jef Geeraerts, and adapted by Carl Joos and Erik Van Looy, Dossier K is produced by Erwin Provoost and Peter Bouckaert for Eyeworks Film & TV Drama.
A star is BOrn When Hans Herbots saw Ella-June Henrard acting in a student short, he knew she was right for his next feature. For Ella, aged 15 and still at drama school, it was the chance of a lifetime. The result of their collaboration is Bo, the story of a young girl whose yearning for the high life leads her into dangerous company. By Ian Mundell
The project had been at the back of director Hans Herbots’ mind for four or five years, after he picked up a copy of Dirk Bracke’s novel 'Het Engelenhuis' by chance in a bookshop. It’s the story of a girl in her early teens who drifts into prostitution under the influence of a story of a girlfriend who works as an ‘escort’ and an older man, a ‘lover boy’. ‘What struck me in the book is that here is a girl who sees no problem with that,’ he recalls. ‘I thought that was an interesting thing to work around: someone of that age, making that decision, and not having a problem with it, but slowly being drawn into that world and ultimately getting into trouble.’ At that time Herbots had already directed Falling, based on a book for young people by popular Flemish author Anne Provoost. But before he could move forward with Dirk Bracke’s book, other projects came to
fruition. There was Long Weekend, a comedy with a social conscience which escaped its intended fate as a TV movie and became a huge hit in cinemas. Then there was the big-budget action film Storm Force, about the personal rivalries within an air-sea rescue team working along the Belgian coast, which was one of the best selling local films of 2006. ‘I always like to tell different stories,’ Herbots explains, ‘although they all have something in common, such as a character or a theme. But I like the different forms of storytelling. I think this film is smaller and more intimate, and closer to my first film.’ While Bo is also based on a book written for younger readers, Herbots thinks that by bringing it to the big screen the story can be given a broader appeal. ‘I think we are aiming at the same audience as, for
example, Kids by Larry Clarke or Thirteen [by Catherine Hardwicke]. Adolescents will see the movie differently from people in their thirties, who have more experience and will see the same story from a different angle.’ Rough diamond Casting the lead role of Deborah was a crucial step. ‘From the beginning I wanted this to be a very authentic film, so I was looking for a 15 or 16 year-old girl,’ Herbots says. ‘We put some ads out and we saw many, many girls, but there was always something missing, or they were too young or too old. I was almost desperate, because shooting was coming closer. We’d found someone who was pretty much OK, but I wasn’t sure. And then I saw Ella working in this short.
She was a bit like a rough diamond. You could see the potential was there.’ Ella was - and still is - at drama school. ‘My first idea was to perform on stage,’ she recalls, ‘but then there was this chance to audition for a short film, so I said: why not?’ Bafia was about a European man who goes to a hospital in West Africa demanding treatment for his daughter, who has hurt her foot. As a result of his insistence that the girl be seen, the African mother of a new-born child dies. Herbots was supervising the student director of the film, at RITS film school in Brussels. Ella’s role as the daughter was only small, but it was enough to convince him. ‘I was looking for someone who was really on the edge between being a girl and being a woman,’ he recalls. ‘And at that moment Ella was there.’
OUR KNOWHOW K
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Schiphollaan 2 1140 Brussels phone: +32 2 735 60 20 firstname.lastname@example.org w w w . a c e - p o s t p r o d u c t i o n . c o m
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Hans Herbots and Ella-June Henrard
The chance to act in a major film was, of course, the main attraction for Ella, but she was also drawn to the film’s message. ‘I want to set an example for girls of my age, to tell them to be careful when dealing with “lover boys” and people with bad intentions,’ she says. ‘It’s a very current topic.’ Main attraction For Herbots, the benefits of casting an actress of the same age as the main character had to be balanced against the risk of using someone relatively inexperienced. ‘She couldn’t rely on technique of course,’ he explains. ‘Normally when you do four, five, six takes you can add things, and I wasn’t sure that was going to work, so I aimed for first and second takes. But she grew very fast, and already in the first or second week of shooting she could add little things, and adapt and change.’ For Ella too it was a change from stage acting. ‘It’s very different, of course. On stage you have much more freedom to express yourself or to improvise. With acting on set for a film you have to repeat things - reach out your hand for something over and over, in different ways. There’s less freedom, less scope for being yourself. But that’s the process you have to go through in order to have the final product.'
Explicit scenes The preparatory stage was particularly important. ‘Deborah is not the girl I am in real life, of course, but I read the script and the book, and after several rehearsals and scenes I got more into the character. I also watched other films on the same subject, such as Lilya 4-Ever [by Lukas Moodysson] to get to know the character and what it was like to be Deborah.’ Herbots was also a little nervous about the explicit nature of the story they were going to tell. ‘The first time we talked about the whole sex part of the film, I was also ill at ease. I wondered: What does she know, what doesn’t she know? But she was able to talk about things very easily, and that helped,’ he says. It also helped that some of the more explicit scenes were the most technical to shoot, involving crowds of technicians and assistants. It was almost ridiculous. ‘Often when I said “cut” everyone would start laughing, but when you look at the images you think, my god, what’s happening to her?’ They worked a little longer in rehearsals than normal, the director recalls, to build up Ella’s confidence. She was naturally concerned about how she would be seen. ‘It was hard for her to step away from herself and into the character, but she learned to do that during the shoot. We
worked on that, so that she saw the role as a character and accepted that it was not her, and that people would make the same distinction.’ ‘It was Hans’ persuasive power which enabled me to perform the role,’ Ella adds. ‘The connection between us was very strong and he was a good mentor and mental coach, because the role is very hard, the film is very harsh for a girl of 15.’ Although she is now relaxed about being seen in the film, there is a lingering worry about the older generation of viewers. ‘It’s a film that requires a lot of open-mindedness,’ she says. ‘I’m a bit concerned that my grandfather will have trouble putting it in the right context!’ For herself, she didn’t have much time to dwell upon it. ‘When I left the set the character of Deborah was still in my mind, but I had exams a week afterwards, so I had to become the normal Ella again.’ For the moment her education comes first. ‘The main thing is to finish school,
but if there are opportunities, if someone offers me another role, I’ll be happy to say yes, if it’s a character that I think I can get into.’ And of course she has no regrets about taking the role in Bo. ‘The shoot lasted two months and in those two months I learned more than I could have in three years at school.’ Monster For Herbots, the next project is to adapt Flemish author Tom Lanoye’s 'Monster Trilogy' into a 10-episode TV series. The story concerns the members of a rich industrial family in West Flanders during the 1990s, their personal stories unfolding against the background of events such as the Dutroux child abduction case and the death of King Baudouin. ‘The nation went through some traumatic events which changed the way we looked at politics, the judiciary and the police,’ Herbots explains.
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He describes the project as having the same sort of ironic, satirical flavour as American series such as Six Feet Under or Desperate Housewives. ‘I like to experiment with forms of storytelling and try everything,’ he says. ‘Perhaps one day I’ll find a synthesis and then stay with that. I have the idea that with the 'Monster Trilogy' it’s going to be a mixture of all the things I’ve been doing so far.’ He is relaxed about the increasingly close relationship between cinema and TV in Flanders. ‘There is a new generation of directors who cross over between television and film, and that has given some oxygen to the whole industry,’ he says. ‘For the first time you can start to speak of it being an industry. There is a lot of shooting going on, mainly for television, but the cross-over makes it possible for people to develop, not only directors but in every department. I think it’s in better shape than ever.’
Hans Herbots (°1970) The Divine Monster (2010, TV series) Bo (2009) Stormforce (2006) The Long Weekend (2005) Falling (2001) Omelette à la Flamande (1995, short) Que Cosa (1994, short) *selected filmography
‘The connection between us was very strong and Hans was a good mentor and mental coach, because the role is very hard, the film is very harsh for a girl of 15’ - Ella June Henrard
‘I felt like the little ball in a pinball machine,’ producer Tomas Leyers jokes of his experience in Cannes this year. He was on the Riviera with Lost Persons Area, the debut feature of Caroline Strubbe who is also Leyers’ wife. As he bounced around town, attending screenings and discussions, Leyers relished the collision between art and business that always characterises Cannes. To his and Strubbe’s occasional bemusement, some viewers of their film wanted to discuss its secret symbolism: the phallic significance of the pylons that are seen against the skyline or even the importance of the banana one character is seen eating. Overall, though, they were heartened by the ‘warm, tender reactions’ to the film, which won the Best Screenplay prize in the INTERNATIONAL Critics’ Week
© Bart Dewaele
section. By Geoffrey Macnab
Iron Man After shooting wrapped on Lost Persons Area, the producer was in a state of exhaustion. He likens his TV work to a sprint but suggests that feature filmmaking is far more intense. ‘It’s not even a marathon by comparison... it’s like the Iron Man!’ For all the stresses of making the film, Leyers describes it as an overwhelmingly positive experience. Made for e1.8 million, Lost Persons Area was a complex co-production with pieces of financing from many different sources. Nonetheless, it is no Euro-pudding. In the course of preparing Lost Persons Area, Leyers and Strubbe enjoyed ‘a great ride' winning support from almost every organisation they approached. They were therefore able to make the film exactly as they had planned, without compromise.
The project was selected for both Rotterdam’s CineMart and the Berlinale Co-Production Market. Meanwhile, Leyers was part of the EAVE programme in 2006. He was fast learning the intricacies of coproduction while also cultivating many new contacts. After Strubbe saw White Palms (2006), a sports drama starring and partly inspired by the real life of former gymnast Zoltán Miklós Hajdu, she was determined to cast Hajdu as the foreign worker in Lost Persons Area. This led to Laszlo Kantor coming on board as the Hungarian co-producer. Home-made The three leads in the film are all dancers by training, not actors. This alarmed some potential investors but Leyers wasn’t worried in the slightest. ‘What’s an actor? If a heart surgeon said, “oh, I didn’t study to be a heart surgeon,” of course I would be worried when he operated on me. But if somebody says I’m going to act, then he or she becomes an actor.’ And, no, the rigours of working together didn’t affect Leyers’ relationship with Strubbe. ‘I keep it [the personal and professional] separate. During the shoot, we were never a couple. I was the producer. She was the director... at the same time, this was a very home-made film. Our kitchen was the meeting place for so many discussions [about the film] while cooking the dinner.’ What comes along Leyers doesn’t just work with Strubbe. Through his production company Minds Meet, he is now producing Resurrection, a new feature from Kristof Hoornaert whose short Kaïn screened at the Berlin Film Festival earlier this year. ‘And I am not married to him!’ Strubbe’s original screenplay for Lost Persons Area, written six years ago, stretched to 350 pages and was intended as a trilogy. She and Leyers will soon return to the co-production trail to finance and shoot the next two parts. They’re keeping an open mind as to where they will shoot. Spain and England are both possibilities. Where does he see himself in five years time? ‘On the Moon... or dead,’ Leyers chuckles. He has just been reading Nassim Taleb’s ‘The Black Swan’ which argues that it is impossible to predict the future. ‘I am going to continue to do what I am doing but I am open to other ideas... I don’t think it will be film production only but what comes along.’
© Bart Dewaele
Lost Persons Area was Leyers’ first feature as a producer. He has an unlikely background for a would-be movie mogul. Leyers grew up in Hoboken, an industrial town in Belgium. His father was one of the two co-founders of the Belgian communist party. No, the young Tomas didn’t grow up reading Marx and Engels. ‘I was too young,’ he explains. His father eventually quit the party. Tomas then swung toward the world of privilege, attending a Catholic school where he played cricket and rugby. At university in Leuven, he studied farming engineering... a route more likely to lead to a career as a bioengineer than to take him to Hollywood. However, after his studies were over, he resolved to do something completely different. He worked as an actor, did Candid Camera-style stunts for TV and eventually went into video production, making corporate films. Leyers also began to stage hugely complex live events. ‘The biggest event I did was called “Belgian Dances”. It was a celebration to mark 175 years of Belgium,’ he recalls of a spectacular contemporary dance extravaganza staged simultaneously in 12 different cities. This was filmed with 48 cameras with a huge crew and broadcast on national TV. In theory, this was an excellent preparation for the stresses and logistical challenges of feature films. ‘I’ve done some big things,’ Leyers agrees. ‘I’ve organised a concert for our King as well as some other events for our Royal Family... and yet... film production is the hardest thing to do. Oh,’ his voice tails off, ‘it’s heavy!’
© Thomas Dhanens
Felix van Groeningen
In Cannes this MAY, filmmaker Felix van Groeningen was briefly to be seen bicycling down the main Cannes thoroughfare, La Croisette, with no clothes on at all. Not that he’s a naturist. It was all part of a stunt to support the Directors’ Fortnight screening of his new film The Misfortunates which featured a scene of the ne’er-do-well Strubbe brothers riding naked on bikes. The stunt - covered in media outlets all over the world - didn’t give the young director much pleasure. By Geoffrey Macnab ‘We mentioned it once in a meeting but then we forgot about it. We said, no, stupid idea,’ van Groeningen recalls of the idea of the bike ride in Cannes. His film’s French sales agents MK2 liked the idea of the director in the buff with some of his key collaborators. Van Groeningen and co. weren’t so keen but were eventually talked
round. That’s why the world’s journalists were confronted by naked Belgians on bikes. Weeks after his alfresco cycling, van Groeningen can’t entirely hide his embarrassment. At the same time, his pride at being able to make such an impact at the world’s most important film festival is obvious too.
MAVERICK Humour and rawness Verhulst has been nicknamed ‘the Jacques Brel of Flemish literature’. His novels are grim but scabrously funny affairs, drawing heavily on his own troubled childhood. Van Groeningen had long followed his writing. ‘I loved his style: that combination of humour and rawness. There are really rough situations with real people. When you read the novels, you are embarrassed and you want to laugh,’ the director reflects on the novelist. When van Groeningen first approached Verhulst about a potential collaboration, the novelist wasn’t keen. He didn’t like van Groeningen’s ideas. ‘He immediately said no!’ A year or so later, The Misfortunates was published. Van Groeningen read it immediately ‘to see if there was a film in it.’ At first, the director was sceptical that there was any scope for a film adaptation, the book consisted of nine chapters. Its style was anecdotal and very personal. There wasn’t much development of character or obvious narrative momentum. However, after he had finished the book, the director began to see ways he could bring the story to the screen. One key episode comes late in the book when the narrator Gunther, by then an adult, visits his grandmother, who is suffering dementia and living in a home. He tells the old woman how much she meant to him and reassures her that he has been able to make something of his life, in spite of his adverse upbringing. This, the director decided, could work as an important framing device in the film.
Audiences would be aware that the narrator was looking back on his troubled childhood from a settled and even contented perspective. Immensely appealing The Misfortunates is set in an industrial town 20 km or so outside Brussels. Here, once a year, there is a carnival. All the men in the town dress up as women, drink all they can and piss and vomit in the streets. The town has its own rich folklore. All this is caught vividly in van Groeningen’s film. On the face of it, a sensitive arthouse director like van Groeningen doesn’t appear to have much in common with the boorishness of the low-life characters in The Misfortunates. Arguably, that’s what makes the film seem so rich. The director brings a lyrical and humorous touch to characters and situations that, in other hands, could easily seem dour in the extreme. Moreover, the director believes he has an affinity with the world that Verhulst is describing. ‘I have seen a lot of different environments in my youth and life,’ he says. ‘It is not where I come from but my own parents split up and then they came back together. They had a lot of lives. One of the lives that my father had was that he was a bartender. For a long period, I lived above the bar. It was really quite a rough bar. I went there before school. I got up and my mum was working there and sometimes my father too.’ Before going off to school, van Groeningen would stop by for a hot chocolate. He’d see the drunks who had been in the bar all night. While making The Misfortunates, he felt close to the Strubbe brothers. Despite their self-destructive behaviour, there was something about the characters that he found immensely appealing. His casting was surprising. As the drunken, boorish father, he chose Koen De Graeve an actor best known for playing genial, laid-back types. De Graeve had appeared in van Groeningen’s earlier film, With Friends
© Bart Dewaele
The Misfortunates is based on an autobiographical novel by Dimitri Verhulst. It tells of the deeply dysfunctional Strubbe brothers − hairy, hard-drinking layabouts leading a nihilistic life in a dead-end provincial town, looking for escape at the bottom of a beer glass or in the Roy Orbison music they so love. The narrator, looking back on his childhood, is Gunther, the sensitive and articulate son of the boorish Marcel (Koen De Graeve).
Like These (2007). During shooting, director and actor had had a row and had briefly fallen out. Remembering this spat was what prompted van Groeningen to give him the role in the new feature. ‘That is who the father in The Misfortunates has to be. He’s the guy who everybody likes but who all of a sudden changes. This should shock you. This guy has these fits of aggression that come out of nothing. That also creates this tension between father and son which is at the heart of the movie.’ Enjoyable and exhausting Van Groeningen has various trusted collaborators who’ve worked on all his features. These include cinematographer Ruben Impens, editor Nico Leunen and producer Dirk Impens. ‘The producer is maybe the biggest collaborator because he is really there from A to Z. He’s in at the start of the scriptwriting and, of course, on the shoot, the post-production and the releasing,’ the director reflects on Dirk Impens. Van Groeningen begins his movies with a clear artistic vision but still wants and expects input from his colleagues. ‘Collaboration is the key word in filmmaking... I like to say that I don’t exactly know where I will end but I know where I want to go.’ During the build-up to The Misfortunates, DOP Ruben Impens was present at rehearsals. The editor, Nico Leunen, was then heavily involved in creating the look of the film, which is shot on digital and combines both grainy-looking colour and some black and white sequences. This was an enjoyable, if exhausting, film to make. The director and crew
MAVERICK All stills The Misfortunates
didn’t emulate the characters in the movie by drinking vast quantities of beer − not, at least, until after the movie was over. ‘But a lot of raw sausages were eaten, a lot of different raw meats.’ What van Groeningen wanted above all from his cast and crew was energy − a desire, as he puts it, to ‘take it one step further’ and to push the limits to make the film as raw, tough and funny as possible. In one scene, we see the pet cat eating up Marcel’s vomit as he lies asleep on the floor. No, this scene didn’t require any great technical ingenuity. ‘We just put meat in the vomit!’ the director explains how he cajoled the cat into lapping up such unsavoury fare. Psychological head butt Some international critics have pointed to overlaps between The Misfortunates and another recent Flemish film, Koen Mortier’s Ex Drummer. Both are adaptations of books. Both have the same aggressive, in-your-face quality in their depiction of working-class Flemish life. Van Groeningen is not a real fan of Herman Brusselmans, the ‘bad boy’ author of 'Ex Drummer'. ‘I don’t think he has love for his characters. That’s my problem with it.’ Nonetheless, the director agrees that both his film and Ex Drummer are striving after the same raw authenticity. He was heartened by the response to The Misfortunates in Cannes where audiences warmed to the film and understood it in spite of its intensely Flemish origins. To his relief, the novelist also liked the film. ‘It was quite weird,’ the director reflects on his oscillating relationship with Dimitri Verhulst. ‘During the process of the scriptwriting, at first he was involved. Then, he didn’t want to be involved any more. He said what we did with the script he wasn’t too fond of.’ Although he had written the book in the first person, using his own name and drawing on his own experiences, Verhulst was wary that the movie would be too close to his own life. In the end, he watched the film at home with his girlfriend. His response? ‘He really thought it was a good film and was touched by it... he liked the film but said
it was also like a psychological head butt!’ Now, van Groeningen is waiting to see which international buyers will pounce on his film. The Misfortunates has already played as the closing movie at the Munich Film Festival, will screen in Toronto and The Hamptons, and is likely to surface at one of the major autumn festivals. Crossroads The young director is keen to take advantage of the heightened international profile that his presence in Cannes has given. That doesn’t mean he is planning any more naked bike rides or that he is looking to make movies outside Flanders. It’s just that he wants to get back behind the camera quickly. At present, he is between projects and is busy reading scripts and novels. Perhaps, he acknowledges, he is at an important crossroads in his career. ‘Before Cannes, I would never have said I want to go and make a film outside Flanders because I never thought that opportunity would happen,’ he reflects. ‘But I have mixed feelings about that. I feel really comfortable here. The people around me are very important. I also feel that identity is really important... it’s not obvious for me to direct a film in a foreign language and a foreign country. On the other hand, life is great because sometimes you get these opportunities and you have to take them!’
Felix van Groeningen (°1977) The Misfortunates (2009) With Friends Like These (2007) Steve + Sky (2004) *selected filmography
wild side of Disney
‘It’s a long history. Do you have time…’ Brussels-based Jan Bultheel asks when called on to explain the lengthy journey to screen of his animated TV series,
Hareport, about two young hares who set up their very own airport.
© Bart Dewaele
By Geoffrey Macnab
Flashback to January 1, 2004. Bultheel is getting up on New Year’s Day with a slight hangover − ‘I had a very good party’ − and beginning to start a new life. At the end of 2003, Bultheel had quit his old company Pix & Motion after 15 years during which he had established himself as one of the most successful commercials directors in Belgium. His credits there included hundreds of live-
action and animated films for clients ranging from Mercedes to PlayStation, from CocaCola to Citroën. He travelled the world and earned plenty of money. ‘They were big companies and big commercials but, at a certain point, I was fed up,’ the director says of his many years as a hired hand for prestigious clients. ‘Commercials are really fascinating. You have
the best cameras, the best crews, the best everything... the only problem is that if you make a bad film, it is always your fault and if you make a good film, it is always the agency that takes the credit.’ Innocence Keen to make a clean break, the director sold his assets and prepared to start from scratch.
Peanuts At the time he was doing his first hare pictures, there was a big debate in the Belgian press about the noise and environmental impact of the national airport on Brussels. That sparked the idea of the ‘Hareport’. The first draft of the synopsis was finished almost five years ago. In the summer of 2004, Bultheel headed off to the Annecy Film Festival in search of backers. There, he met Corinne Kouper from French production company Sparx. She was interested. However, Sparx was bought by Disney Europe. Kouper resigned and Bultheel seemed to have lost one important potential supporter. He had approached several of the major Belgian animation companies to help him make a
pilot episode. It still rankles with him today that they all turned him down. ‘Not one of the producers made me a serious offer.’ For a brief period, activity on the 'Hareport' threatened to grind to a halt. Bultheel was becoming increasingly frustrated. He had worked for two years ‘for peanuts’ and the project wasn’t anywhere near production. It was at this point that Kouper called him. She had now formed a new company called TeamTO and was still keen to make the series. Through Kouper, Hareport was brought to French TV station TF1. Slowly but surely, the project began to build up momentum. Through his own outfit Filmwerken, Bultheel managed to secure support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF). Finally, the director was able to make a two-minute pilot. TF1 expressed certain reservations. The French company was looking for a series that would appeal to 9 to 12 year olds but the pilot’s look and humour played to a younger audience. Keen to keep TF1 on board, Bultheel went back to the drawing board to redesign the characters and to rewrite the bible. Airborne ‘After a while, I thought the TF1 guys were right,’ Bultheel concedes. ‘I think the idea of an airport is better suited for an older public.’ When he presented the new Hareport pilot in Cartoon Forum, the response from TF1 was altogether more enthusiastic and committed to funding the project. There were still hurdles to be overcome as Kouper looked for international co-production partners in Canada, the US and elsewhere. In the meantime, the project regularly got updated and reworked. Eventually, Vivi Film's Viviane
Vanfleteren came on board as the Belgian coproducer. ‘It was me who had started it, who had invested my time, my energy, my money since 2004, working for almost nothing during five years,’ Bultheel says of his long battle to get Hareport airborne. Early on, he was working largely on his own. When the series finally went into production, he suddenly found himself at the head of a small army of animation professionals. The final production of the series took about a year and a half with a crew of 12 in Paris, 25 in Valence and about a dozen in Ghent. What now? A second series is on the cards. As for a feature film version of Hareport, Bultheel says: ‘Why not but it’s not for me to decide. The rights are with the producers.’ Five years on from that New Year’s Day in 2004, Bultheel looks back with mixed feelings on his five year quest to get his project to the screen. ‘Yes, it has been a very rewarding experience and I am very happy with it. But... with everything that I know now, I should have been able to do this in two years! With what I do know, I’ll do it better next time - and I won’t spend five years of my life on another series.’
‘I thought, now - what am I going to do?’ Animation had always been his passion. He studied the craft under animation legend Raoul Servais in Ghent. His teenage son was keen on cartoons, too. He therefore decided to throw himself into the toon world. For a Belgian, this is not an easy prospect. In Flanders, he suggests, ‘the options for doing animation are really very limited...’ Nor was Bultheel much enthused about trying to make a career in short films. That’s why he decided a TV series was the best option. ‘In my innocence I thought that would be possible. Little did I know that it would take me five years to accomplish!’ His first step was to begin drawing... and drawing and drawing. Eventually, he decided he wanted to make a series with hares. ‘A hare is a symbolic kind of animal because it’s not a rabbit. A hare is like a wild rabbit - a hare is the punk of the rabbit. That’s what I liked. It’s the wild side of the Disney films.’
Jan Bultheel (°1959) Hareport (2009, TV series) A DVD project of shorts: ‘About love cat. No. #1 to #12 (2000) Mi Corazon Venenoso (1998) Flamma Flamma (1996, short) Diana (1996, short) *selected filmography
All stills Hareport 21
An early developer, Indra Siera began making commercially sponsored films in his teens. He moved on to adverts, before being hired by Studio 100, the Belgian entertainment group specialising in childrenâ€™s and family entertainment. There he directed TV series episodes and the first two films featuring K3, a girl group very popular with Belgian and Dutch kids. Both productions enjoyed considerable local success. Siera has just finished six episodes of Old Belgium, a television series that aims at slightly more mature audiences. By Alex Masson
ÂŠ Bart Dewaele
Why did you become a film director? I always wanted to become a musician, then an actor. I quickly realised that I couldn’t do either. I didn’t have enough talent to become an actor, and since the quality of the music was so-so I turned towards the profession of directing (laughs). My father was a producer, and I spent a lot of time on set, where I became fascinated by the medium of cinema. I started early: I was 14 years old when I directed my first commercial commission, before shooting adverts… Before directing films for children… I needed the money (laughs)! It was an even more old-fashioned reason than that: after making several videos for producers of children’s programmes, they suggested that I direct a film. I said yes. But it was a great opportunity, particularly since that audience is very open. For example, children have already taken on board rapid editing. It seems that they liked my experiments in this area: K3 and the Magic Medallion was one of the ten most seen films in Belgium in 2004. Even so, I still believe that this was a coincidence (laughs). Is it the desire to be a musician that gave this very musical rhythm to Old Belgium, particularly in its editing? That’s exactly what I wanted to do. I don’t want to point the finger at anyone, but I think that even if we have excellent directors in Belgium, the directing is often very ‘old-fashioned’. It’s time that we got into the same habit as the current generation of American or British filmmakers, who have gradually learned to use the narrative conventions introduced by music videos. That remains complicated because there are few Belgian producers who want to put money into films with this sort of visual language. In the medium term I would like it if we could make films that speak as much with their editing as with their dialogue. It’s not that I expect to excel in this area. I just want to find the best formal means of telling the stories that interest me. Or simply to say to my backers: no problem, I’m going to communicate the message that you want to get across in a modern way. At first the producers of K3 and the Magic Medallion were really inflexible. They had a very precise idea of what this film should look like in order, in their eyes, to fit in a specific pigeonhole. I gradually tried to get them out of that rut, at the same time staying in the position that had been given to me. I’ve never had the temperament of a director who immediately wants to impose his ideas. That will come little by little. Old Belgium is a television series. Today everybody agrees that television, and series in particular, is a more adventurous testing ground for form and narrative than the mainstream cinema. Do you share this point of view? For a director, a TV series has more advantages than cinema: a bigger audience, more time to develop a story. With a film, you have at best two hours to do that. How could you not prefer the least mini-series of six one-hour episodes? And then I have to confess that I want my work to be seen by the largest possible group of people. In the cinema, you have to be a director of genius or have a very good scenario to have a success. For the moment, I’m only telling simple stories. The story of Old Belgium is the simplest…
To which you nevertheless give a density through editing and wide-format images. It’s true. I’m a cameraman and I was anxious to shoot in the widest format possible, but with maximum of people in the picture. The feelings expressed in Old Belgium are universal, but very ordinary, very everyday. I wanted to give them a poetic dimension and force the viewer to seek out the characters on the screen, so that they bond with them, so that they are intrigued. In the same way, I use lots of symbols in the series. For example, when a man goes out the weather is terrible, when it is a woman, the weather is fine. Sometimes it is a bit forced, I know, but I want to be sure that the viewers pick up the emotions that I want to convey. Are you the originator of Old Belgium, or was it commissioned, like the two K3 films? It’s a rather odd story. I was working on another TV series with Stany Crets and Peter Van den Begin, the two lead actors of Old Belgium. They were in the process of writing the script for another producer, and Stijn Coninx was meant to direct it, but he left the project to go and direct Sister Smile. So Stany and Peter mentioned my name. I took over their scenario and brought my own ideas into it. In the end, you are credited as director, scriptwriter, cameraman and editor. Would you call yourself a control freak? Absolutely, but I don’t know why I need to have this control over things. That seems pretentious, I know, and authoritarian, but I don’t like having to justify myself in front of the crew. I’m the sort of person who tells a cameraman: go home, I’ll do it, come back when it’s finished. The same with a scriptwriter or an editor. I hope that the result is sufficient to demonstrate where I’m coming from. Evidently, that caused a bit of conflict on the shoot. You don’t have much time and even less money. Even so, the pace was 75 shots a day – 150 when we had two cameras. That was really very hard on the actors, but in the end it all went well, in part because I knew where I wanted to go. Old Belgium is firmly rooted in one decade, the 1970s, of which you can only have a child’s memories… …I was born in 1972, so I was a child at the time when the events in Old Belgium take place. That decade is a strange period. I retain the
IN FOCUS impression that the people were more authentic than today, that human relationships were stronger. They weren’t virtual or dematerialised like they are now. In that case, isn’t it strange to reconstitute that period using contemporary technological methods? The only thing that I used to give a 1970s feel is the zoom - which is no longer used very much in fiction - above all to reinforce certain emotions by bringing me closer to the faces of the actors. The rest has nothing to do with way films were put together back then. This was for no precise reason, other than that the setting of Old Belgium is not my natural environment. I grew up in an upper class environment, my father was a producer, my mother a school teacher. I didn’t know the world inhabited by these characters. In contrast you have included your passion for music in Old Belgium, which operates on several levels, between the songs the characters sing and the original soundtrack… The songs have a music hall feel, while for the original soundtrack I wanted something more contemporary, which would make a contrast. But I was anxious for this music to be played on instruments from the same setting as the series, in fashion at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s. A little bit French touch. One of my favourite soundtrack composers is François de Roubaix: rather than the highly orchestrated passages of a Michel Legrand, his work has a minimalist side, contemporary, yet still with feeling. I appreciate that French side, that slightly bitter-sweet irony. That taste is still a bit unexpected in the original soundtrack of Old Belgium which, from its scenario as much as its title, has a distinctly Belgian identity… True, but I think that the emotions in this series are universal. The strangest thing is that the majority of the actors are more accustomed to speaking French. For practical reasons we preferred to shoot in Flemish, but in
reality this cabaret was a very French place. The theatre was linked to the Olympia. Generally the performers who could not play in this Parisian theatre brought their acts to Old Belgium. I was anxious not to make things too Belgian in form, to go towards something more intimate, everyday, a little more in the tone of a Tati. That includes the characters: Jack is very Louis de Funès, I think. Besides, from the outset it was clearly written in a slapstick style. Do you have purely cinema projects in mind? Yes. Two films have been proposed to me, but also another TV series… (laughs). One of the two films came through an Indian agent who wants to represent me down there… …In India??? …I know, I know, it’s bizarre. But it follows a logical series of events. My professional career is peppered with unexpected meetings like this one. To a certain extent, the photography and notably the colours in Old Belgium are not too far from Bollywood musicals… …I adore musicals. I would love to make one, because I’m convinced that at this time we need feel-good movies. On top of that, this desire is connected to my real memory of the 1970s. When I was little I didn’t often go to the cinema, but I was permanently glued to the TV. In particular I watched dozens and dozens of children’s films on TV, German and Danish productions, most of them musicals. All of that must have stayed in a corner of my subconscious...
Indra Siera (°1972) Old Belgium (2010, TV series) Fans (2008, TV series) K3 and the Ice Princess (2006) K3 and the Magic Medaillon (2004)
© Alex Vanhee
‘When I’m working with musicians in a band we speak the same language and that makes a difference. Here, we have to work with a translator, and sometimes it is hard to understand what a director really wants to say.’ Van Groeningen first approached Neve to work on the soundtrack of his second film, With Friends Like These. The piano-driven music performed by Neve’s jazz trio was a perfect fit for some of the film’s key scenes. But van Groeningen also asked Neve to record versions of techno hits, such as ‘Don’t You Want Me’ by Felix. Neve resisted at first, but became intrigued by how he could connect this stark, rhythmic music with the film’s more complex emotions. ‘How can I give the impression, at least, that even in this music there is a sort of romanticism?’ he recalls asking himself. ‘If people are saying “Don’t you want me” then they mean it, they connect emotionally to it. So I had to think how I could connect to it.’ The resulting tunes have been immensely popular on the internet, reaching a new audience for Neve. ‘I think they are the most popular things I’ve ever done!’ Sparkling feeling He was then called in to work on The Misfortunates, van Groeningen’s adaptation of Dimitri Verhulst’s novel 'De helaasheid
Jef Neve (°1977) The Misfortunates, Felix van Groeningen (2009) With Friends Like These, Felix van Groeningen (2007)
Craftmanship © Jos L. Knaepen
Ja zz pianist and composer Jef Neve is used to collaborating with other musicians . But working with a film director , such as Felix van Groeningen, is more complicated, he tells Ian Mundell .
der dingen'. It was clear immediately that they could not repeat the piano theme, but Neve equally did not want to exploit the folk aspects of the story. He was led by reading Verhulst’s book. ‘The way that he describes all these scenes is so brilliant and sparkling, and that makes the book what it is,’ Neve explains. ‘The biggest challenge of this movie was to have this sparkling feeling.’ They opted for an orchestral score, which gave them more flexibility in tone. They could capture the slapstick of the film’s story, for example, with instruments such as trombones and tubas, before making a transition to its darker side. Neve becomes involved in the process when van Groeningen is beginning to edit. ‘I watch the whole thing and then don’t look at the images for at least two or three weeks,’ he explains. ‘I’ll start composing on characters, things that I’ve seen, scenery, things that I recall, because for me those could be the strong points to build a story.’ Matches He works on the piano or by making small musical demos on his computer. He produces different options for van Groeningen to consider, and back in the editing suite the director starts to match music with scenes. They are not always the matches that Neve anticipated. ‘Then you start to understand what is in the director’s head, what he really wants to say, how he connects emotionally or musically with that scene.’ With a wide musical knowledge, editor Nico Leunen plays a significant role. ‘He tries to translate what Felix wants to say, so he is very important in this process,’ Neve says. ‘If I’m the composer, Nico in a way is the arranger, the guy that arranges the tunes so that they really fit on the images.’ To the point Working on these films has made Neve much more aware of soundtracks. ‘Now I realise how difficult it is to make a good movie score, finding the balance between what is needed emotionally and what is needed for each scene. There is always a danger that you go over the top with your music when you are writing a score. I think the main thing is to get to the point. Don’t write a note too many, rather one too few, because it gets in the way of the conversations, it gets in the way of the images.’ He has had other offers to compose soundtracks, but is waiting for a project he likes. ‘I don’t want to do this for a living, I want to do it for pleasure, because I believe in it.’
A Town Called
© Kris Dewi
© Chloé Nicosia - SIC
5 Altiplano co-directors Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth, actresses Magaly Solier, Norma Martinez and Behi Djanati at the International Critic’s Week premiere of the film.
A LOOK IN FLANDERS IMAGE'S 2009 CANNES PHOTO ALBUM
© Kris Dewi
1-4 No, they weren’t riding around on their bikes the whole time: director Felix van Groeningen (4), producer Dirk Impens, editor Nico Leunen and some of The Misfortunates cast (Koen De Graeve, Johan Heldenbergh, Wouter Hendrickx, Bert Haelvoet, Valentijn Dhaenens and young Kenneth Vanbaeden) were on their best behaviour and, with a little help, dressed to kill. 6 Beast Animation’s Steven De Beule (l) and Ben Tesseur (r) accompany Flemish voice-cast director Jan Eelen to the Cannes premiere of A Town Called Panic.
© Beast Animation
© Kris Dewitte
© Kris Dewi
© Tomas Leyers
sia - S é Nico
© Tomas Leye
12 Critic’s Week Artistic Director Jean-Christophe Berjon having a good time with Flemish directors Caroline Strubbe (Lost Persons Area) and Christophe Van Rompaey (Moscow, Belgium).
8-11 They certainly didn’t get lost in Cannes! Lost Persons Area director Caroline Strubbe and producer/ partner Tomas Leyers (9) and actors Lisbeth Gruwez, Zoltan Miklos Hajdu, Sam Louwyck and young Kimke Desart (10). The result: Strubbe took home the Best Script Award at the International Critic’s Week (11).
© Chloé Nico
sia - SI C
© Chloé Nicosi
a - SIC
Under the influence
© Bart Dewaele
As a young man Geoffrey Enthoven was always searching for something. With interests across the arts, from painting to music, he chose to study cinema as a way of having them all. Once he had made the choice to go to film school, he soon found signs that told him he was on the right track, such as Three Colours : Blue by Krzysztof Kieslowski. ‘It’s really not my favourite film, but it’s one where I had this click, like maybe being a director is perfect for what I want to do.’ By Ian Mundell
Geoffrey Enthoven 30
These are some of the works Geoffrey Enthoven currently gets inspired by: BOOK Life and How to Survive It by Robin Skynner and John Cleese (William Heinemann). MUSIC Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Radiohead (Baby Rock Records) DVD Little Miss Sunshine (2006) by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. Concert Beirut live
you can explain a lot without using words,’ he says. ‘In a way these films helped me think that cinema could be my medium.’ Film school was a moment of intense cinematic exploration, forming a solid body of references. ‘With everything I see now, I always refer back to that period,’ he explains. ‘But there are fewer and fewer moments when I’m completely touched by a movie, and now I’m so busy with my work that when I come home I’m not really interested in watching films.’
© Bart Dewaele
Under the influence
Partly it was the way music is used in Three Colours: Blue, representing the connection between people and a search for a meaning to life. The way the unfinished concerto keeps returning was particularly affecting. ‘It always comes back on a dark screen, with no image, and it becomes so spiritual.’ He was similarly touched by Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and, after seeing it in the cinema rather than on TV, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. ‘That taught me that
Michael Winterbottom Enthoven’s work is based on detailed research, during which he looks for points of personal engagement in projects usually suggested by his producers. He tends not to look for material in other films. ‘I believe that if you want to make a really good apple pie you don’t start with another apple pie - you should start with apples.’ But sometimes other films do make themselves felt. For example, his debut Children of Love began life as a documentary on divorce, but when the families involved pulled out he decided to move to fiction. ‘I tried to shoot it as realistically as possible, because I wanted to have all the qualities and intensity of a documentary. I thought it was impossible to do that in an artistic way, because then you would feel that it’s a movie: you should believe everything that you see - that was a phase, it’s not how I think now! But at that moment I saw Wonderland by Michael Winterbottom, and I thought OK, that’s how I can tell the story.’ The British director is also an inspiration for the variety of his work. ‘I really feel connected with Winterbottom: his kind of stories, his focus on people, the mixture of sadness and humour in his films, and also because the type
of movie he makes changes constantly. Every project is different.’ Michael Haneke Outside influences can also be seen in the dark psycho-drama Happy Together, about a respected family man trying to cover up the fact that he is ruined. Enthoven admits this was made with an eye on Michael Mann’s The Insider and Michael Haneke’s Funny Games. ‘Michael Haneke in general really influences me. Every time I see one of his films I find it so fascinating, because he talks about things that I think no-one else dares to talk about. I have the feeling with him of: Oh, you saw that too!’ But with his latest film, The Over the Hill Band, selected for Montreal and Ostend, Enthoven thinks no influences will be apparent. ‘Not at all, in that way it’s really pure.’ Leigh, Loach, von Trier One constant inspiration is working with actors. ‘I’m fascinated by how they perform,’ he says, particularly the way they can make you believe they are experiencing a character’s emotions. ‘Sometimes they do have the feelings of the characters they play, just by acting. For me, that makes it really spiritual.’ He admires directors who get ultra-realistic performances from their actors, such as Mike Leigh with Secrets and Lies, Ken Loach with Family Life or Lars von Trier with Dancer in the Dark. ‘I find it on the edge of perversity, to be so real, to be so cruel. I don’t know why, but it really touches me.’ However, he is not as demanding as some of these filmmakers. ‘I’m not a dictator on set, I’m a director. I like to surround myself with creative people who are also inspired by the story we want to tell.’
Sint-Antoniuskaai - © Bart Dewaele
Designed to be filmed For 10 years Flemish TV cop show Flikken was filmed in and around Ghent. No-one knows the visual possibilities of the city better than its producer, Gunter Schmid of Eyeworks Film & TV Drama. By Ian Mundell
© Bart Dewaele
‘It was strange that 10 years ago no-one filmed here in Ghent,’ he says. ‘It’s such an ideal location: it’s a historical city, with a large student population, with a port, with a lot of industry and lots of cultural activities and museums. It’s a compromise, a village where everyone seems to know each other, but with the features of a city. It was ideal for us: all sorts of crimes could be set here.’ The series was shot half in the studio and half on location, developing a relationship with the city that would be new for Flemish crime drama. ‘This was the first series with a focus on the personal lives of the cops,’ Schmid ex-
HOTSPOT Leie - © Stad Gent
shows, people are always looking for somewhere to hide out. ‘We would use them quite a lot to end an episode.’ Nice atmosphere Flikken also made use of events in the city, from the Floraliën flower show, which only takes place every five years, to the annual Flanders International Film Festival and weekly fixtures such as football matches. ‘We did wide shots on the actual football match,’ Schmid recalls, ‘and the close ups when everyone had gone, along with 100 extras.’ Above all it’s the historic city centre that Schmid likes best. ‘With the old port, it has such a nice atmosphere and it’s so beautiful when you see it on the screen, at day or at night. It looks as if it is designed to be filmed. It has bridges, water and terraces. And there are always people sitting around.’ While the series had to have a special relationship with the local police force, this was characteristic of a city at home with the film industry. ‘The inhabitants are very understanding, and it’s very easy to obtain licences to film difficult locations,’ Schmid says. ‘Not everything is possible - you have to keep in mind that this is a city where people live and work - but really it’s a very easy city to shoot in.’
Port of Ghent © Bart Dewaele
Isolated locations Locations and events in the city drove the storylines. ‘At the beginning of every season we sat down with the screenwriters and said: what do we want in the series, what activities, what festivals? What part of the city can we use to tell a story?’ As a Ghent resident himself, Schmid thought he wouldn’t have an inquisitive enough eye to scout locations, so the job was given to an outsider. ‘He came up with locations that you see a lot, but you don’t know what’s behind the facade,’ he recalls. These included Vooruit, a grand public meeting hall from the early 20th Century that is now a cultural centre, and the Oude Vismijn, a baroque fish market. ‘A beautiful building, but totally in decay,’ says Schmid. The scout also discovered an old winter circus in the middle of the city that few people knew about, which is now being renovated as a media centre. These derelict or isolated locations were particularly useful. ‘Places in decay are always beautiful on the screen,’ says Schmid. And in cop
Bijloke Abbey - © Stad Gent - Patrick Henry
Loods 20 - © Jo Van Hende
plains. ‘We saw their lives at home with their kids, with their partners, and since the main characters lived in Ghent there was a kind of symbiosis between them and the city.’
Focus Features CEO James Shamus talks about one of his favourite films from Flanders: Erik Van Looy’s The Alzheimer Case (aka Memory of a Killer).
It’s weird. Here is the quandary - as a rule, I’ve always believed you should only re-make really bad movies and so I feel that I am defiling my own principles by my enthusiasm for this movie [for which Focus has the remake rights]. That’s always tough. The movie is so good that the injunction is - please don’t screw it up. What the film does is two things. One, it is extraordinarily specific. There is a particular malaise that I think is only available to Flemish artists these days which has to do with the strange feeling that on the one hand you − as a Belgian − are the capital of NATO, whatever that is, the centre of western power - and, on the other hand, you don’t really know if you are part of a real nation state. Your identity is bound up in categories that are on the one hand gigantic and huge - you’re at the epicentre of basically 100,000 nuclear warheads. On the other hand, at the local level, there is a deep category confusion that affects everything. In the middle of a Flemish half-state, there is a French-speaking capital. There is a lot of tension going on. You’ve got all that and I also think of Belgium as a kind of crossroads. If you look at the history, it gives an alternative route into what we think of a western history. We just think it is normal that nation states are nation states and that how they came to be is completely natural. When you look at Belgium, there is nothing natural about that history! What is this weird stuff about the Congo. They didn’t even own their own empire - the King owned it. There are all these crazy pieces of history that come back to haunt people. I think that in a very strange way, that informs Alzheimer which - remember - is about memory, about guilt, about power and loss of power and about what form of allegiance you have to authority when push comes to shove. Authority seems very tenuous at the state level. People have to have their own morality and their own sense of authority. Oftentimes, the people who end up giving you in the present the strongest version of what an ethical sense is, are people whose histories are erased because they are pretty awful. You have this historical present created out of a sense of guilt, erasure and victimisation all at once. American genre tends to focus on protagonists, not antagonists. Protagonists get the girl at the end and all that kind of stuff. This, though, is a film that breaks genre rules. It looks and smells like a genre film but it is really doing something very sly inside of that. In literature, Europe has much more dominated the genre side of the culture in ways that are really interesting. The figure of the detective is incredibly fruitful for manoeuvring round and through genre imperatives, especially at times when authority is called into question. The detective is always the guy in that grey zone. This is really a great example of that - of using that zone. And Jan Decleir? That has to affect your liking of the film but you can get great performances in not great films and vice versa. This is a perfect match. The whole point is never to let this guy play his cards because he doesn’t have them. It’s pretty amazing. Yes, it is a few years since Focus picked up the remake rights. Welcome to American development hell but we live in it every day. Look, our commitment to making this film is unwavering. It took me seven years to get Brokeback Mountain made. We’ll just keep at it until either they tell us to stop or we keel over from exhaustion. As told to Geoffrey Macnab * The follow-up to Memory of a Killer, Dossier K, is currently in post-production.
To find out more about the favourite films from other key players go to www.flandersimage.com
flandersimage Issue #15 | Autumn 2009 | €3.50 Cover Ella-June Henrard by Bart Dewaele
CREDITS ﬂanderimage ﬂanderimage Issue #11Editor | SummerIssue 2008 #11 | € 3.50 | Summer 2008 | € 3.50 Christian De Schutter Cover photo BarbaraCover Saraﬁ photo an Barbara Saraﬁan Deputy Editor / Photo Research by Bart Dewaele by Bart Dewaele Nathalie Capiau CREDITS CREDITS Deputy Editor / Digital Editor Simon Wullens Editor
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