Filmfestival Venetië: Interview met regisseur Felix van Groeningen

Simone Vos en Felix van Groeningen

(see the original video interview in Dutch)

Two nominations for the European Film Awards 2013, one of the three nominated for the Lux Prize 2013 and invited to show his film at the Venice Film Festival. Director Felix van Groeningen did a pretty good job with his fourth movie, The Broken Circle Breakdown. This beautiful drama about love, music, lost and how to get yourself together is based on the theatre play of Johan Heldenbergh (the main character in the movie).

Felix van Groeningen talks about his movie at the Venice Film Festival

“It took me a long time before I realised how I could turn the theatre play of Johan into a movie. I saw his performance, he wrote it all and played the main part, and I was so overwhelmed by it. I really didn’t know how I could translate that into a good movie. The theatre play lasts one hour and a half and contains music and telling stories on stage. In my movie I wanted a story with different storylines”, tells Van Groeningen. So he decided to show seven years of the life of the main characters Didier and Elise and their kid Maybelle in the movie.
“It was hard work, because I had to delete scenes  a couple of times. I had to ask myself the question: ‘Is this good enough for this movie?’ and if it wasn’t, I just scraped the scene. In the end, that’s how this movie got so good. I even putted some elements in this story that weren’t there in the theatre play. Like the story of the band.”

Script writing

“I’ve made movies before with an adopted script. But before I got in a fight with the author of the book or play, so I was a little scared now. But Johan was the exact opposite of the other authors. He gave me confidence to make it my own and I always wanted to know if he was okay with my story. In Berlin at the Film festival we watched The Broken Circle Breakdown together. After it was released in Belgium. Johan was touched by the movie and loved it. But he also told me that he never wanted to see the movie again. It was too big for him. It was a part of his life. But for me, it was the best gift he could have possibly given to me. We went through a lot together. Now we have an even more strong connection.”

Losing someone

“The story isn’t based on a true story, Johan didn’t lose a child. But when he was on stage, he imagined the feeling of losing his kids and then he could play his role with more emotions.”
“For me it was pretty intense to make a film about lost, because I lost my father. But not only for me, the whole crew was crying during the shootings. At the first day of shooting, the first take just started and I wept already. That is also what I love about directing movies. I really get in to them and it is amazing to go that deep and see that everybody around has the same feeling. It was extremely emotional, but really beautiful as well.”

New movie

“Even though his movie is still in the running for a lot of prizes, Felix already started thinking about a new movie. This time Felix will write the story himself. It is a movie about a café that my father once started in Ghent. The café is called Charlatan. But the story is not only about this café. It is a story about the growth from a small pub to a large discothèque. And the problems that come with this growth. I worked in this café when I was seventeen, so I saw everything that happened during these years. Because of the growth it got too big and finally it fell apart. The café is actually a metaphor for a large city or a country. I want to start filming in one or two years.”

(Photos © Lorenzo Benedetti)

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