Dana Nechushtan • Director
"They need each other to stay true to themselves"
by Boyd van Hoeij
Dunya & Desie [+see also:
film profile], a colourful tale of the friendship between two girls, one Dutch, the other Moroccan, is based on a popular TV series and will play in the Europe: Now section at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival.
Cineuropa: How does the character development of Dunya and Desie differ between the TV series and the film?
Dana Nechushtan: For many TV series it is important that the characters develop only slowly or not at all, so as to give the viewers the opportunity to get to know them gradually. This is also the case for our TV series. For a film, character development is very important – you want your characters to have learnt something about themselves in the 90 minutes at your disposal. They must have somehow advanced as human beings. Screenwriter Robert Alberdingk Thijm and I knew we wanted them to grow up and become adults, also because our actresses had done the same. It was also an imperative that the film had to stand on its own and be comprehensible for anyone unfamiliar with the series, while at the same time it should show a logical progression while keeping the characters recognisable. While their friendship was a given on TV, they have to fight for it in the film. Whereas they were innocent 15-year-olds in the series, they loose their innocence in the film. The most important thing is that they need each other to stay true to themselves.
Your previous film Night Run was a dark drama with a realistic setting (the Amsterdam taxi wars) and an original script, whereas Dunya & Desie is based on a TV series and is generally lighter in tone. To what extent is the different tone of both films related to the material that formed the basis of the screenplay?
I see both Night Run and Dunya & Desie as original, underivative screenplays, that both dictate a different directing style. With Robert I have been responsible for the creation of the title characters, and together we have guided them through their growing pains. Dunya & Desie, both the series and the film, are stories that are important and need to be told. In a society that grows increasingly callous and in which we are constantly made aware of our differences, Robert and I have always tried to seek out the similarities instead. I developed a style that I thought was suitable for Dunya and Desie – as I try to develop a suitable style for each screenplay. For me, Dunya & Desie is just as realistic as Night Ride. There are millions of Dunyas and Desies in this world.
To what extent is Dunya & Desie part of the multicultural phenomenon that also includes Schnitzel Paradise [+see also:
interview: Martin Khoolhoven
interview: Mimoun Oaïssa
film profile] and Shouf Shouf Habibi!? To what extent is it aimed at the Dutch market only?
Dunya & Desie is indeed part of this trend, though I want to underline that it was the first of its kind in the Netherlands. It is a trend that is becoming more pronounced in Europe, because a new generation of filmmakers simply grew up in a multicultural society. The series sold to many countries, so we knew that it was well-liked abroad as well. That the film was selected for the Berlin Film Festival was a dream come true. The reactions there where overwhelming, which leads me to believe that the friendship between Dunya and Desie is something universal.
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