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Interview: Felix van Groeningen • Director

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“Evoking the feeling of travel”


- Cinergie met Félix van Groeningen who deciphered his melodrama The Broken Circle Breakdown.

Interview: Felix van Groeningen • Director

Cinergie: What moved you in the play to make you want to bring The Broken Circle Breakdown [+see also:
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to the sccreen?

Felix van Groeningen: When I saw it for the first time, I though it was really fantastic. All the elements worked perfectly and as a whole, the play achieved real grandeur. It starts out in a rather funny way, like a concert, with musicians playing, then starting to tell their story. We understand that it's about a couple, and that they have lost a child; it goes on from there, always moving on a little further. How will this man and woman deal with their grief, and why don’t they relate to other anymore? That is what moved me in this play. After half an hour, I started to cry and I couldn't stop... And it lasts an hour and a half (laughter)!… When I saw the play for the first time, I found it incredible and thought I should turn it into a movie. Then, I saw it again and said to myself: no, I'm not going to do it. Then six months later, I saw it again, I reread the text and finally, I decided I would do it.

(The article continues below - Commercial information)

What were the stakes for you in cinematographic terms?
The combination of a very sad love story and music, which is very important in this movie. I thought it would be very difficult. When I started, I didn't really know what I was going to do. Was I going to direct a “musical”? Or something else? That was the challenge, that was what scared me a little at first.

When you film a love story, you're in a rather "pop and rock’n’roll" world, while the camera seems more discrete, sober even, when you address illness.
My other films are much more raw. I put a lot of energy into the aesthetics. I wanted to film very beautiful shots, slow, with lovely camera movements rtaher than a shoulder-held camera, during the action. I had never wanted to do that before. We also put a lot of energy into finding a location which is visually pleasing. A hospital is not beautiful, but it has lots of colour, lots of glass and lights.

The editing de-constructs the chronology and gives the film a kind of lightness that contrasts sharply with the subject matter.
The idea was to evoke the feeling of travel, a trip, not knowing where we are, while staying close to emotions. During the editing, we stopped following the script, we realized it was not the right way to edit the film. In the screenplay, there were three periods of time that were told, and we jumped from one to the other. That worked on paper, but not at all during editing. We started all over again. Very soon, we got to the heart of the problem, the sick child. It was important to understand that joy, love, this very rock’n’roll couple, their encounter, nothing of all that would ever be as joyful again.

Steve + Sky was quite a tough story Dagen zonder lief [+see also:
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, rather sad, and The Misfortunates [+see also:
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used people we wouldn't have liked instinctively... Each time, you film all this very tenderly, as if cinema were there to make things more bearable...

Yes, that's right. Maybe it's a way for me to deal with things I have gone through, which I can't set in place in my life. Then in doing this, writing the screenplay, I can also let go of my emotions, though it doesn't involve any real risk... because it is only a story.

source : Cinergie


international title: The Broken Circle Breakdown
original title: The Broken Circle Breakdown
country: Belgium
sales agent: The Match Factory
year: 2012
directed by: Felix van Groeningen
screenplay: Carl Joos, Felix van Groeningen
cast: Veerle Baetens, Johan Heldenbergh

main awards/selection

Berlinale 2013 Panorama Special
CPH PIX 2013 Audience Award
Tribeca Film Festival 2013 
Seattle International Film Festival 2013 
Festival du Film de Cabourg 2013 
Karlovy Vary Film Festival 2013 
La Rochelle International Film Festival 2013 
Paris Cinéma 2013 
Two Riversides Film and Art Festival 2013 
Sarajevo Film Festival 2013 
Film by the Sea Film Festival 2013 
Quebec City Film Festival 2013 
Vancouver International Film Festival 2013 
Hamptons International Film Festival 2013 
Hawaii Film Festival 2013 
Santa Fe Independent Film Festival 2013 
Stockholm International Film Festival 2013 
St. Louis International Film Festival 2013 
Osaka European Film Festival 2013 

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