Balthazar shoots eagerly-awaited second film, Tot Altijd
by Aurore Engelen
28/04/2011 - On April 19, Eyeworks started shooting Nic Balthazar’s second feature, Tot Altijd (formerly known as Team Mario). The director is what is known as a BV (Bekende Vlaming), that is a “famous Flemish person”.
The journalist-TV presenter-novelist-theatre director launched into film in 2007 with his debut feature Ben X [trailer, film focus]. Adapted from his own short story, the film looked at the daily life of a young autistic boy with Asperger’s syndrome. It did the rounds of international festivals, where it enjoyed immense success, and helped establish Balthazar’s star status in (Flemish) Belgium.
In his new film, Tot Altijd, the director tackles another social issue, by giving the big-screen treatment to the life of Mario Verstraete, a young politician with multiple sclerosis who fought to get Belgium’s euthanasia law passed, and was the first patient to be able to take advantage of it. The film centres on a group of friends who all suffer from this terrible disease and support one of their fellow sufferers in his fight for the right to a peaceful death.
When asked about his choice of such a sensitive subject, Balthazar denied any morbid curiosity: “A film about death is above all a film about life”. The two main characters are played by Geert Van Rampelberg and Koen De Graeve, who are friends on screen and in real life.
Tot Altijd is produced by Peter Bouckaert for Eyeworks Film (The Alzheimer Case [trailer]), in co-production with Belgium’s Entre Chien et Loup and Holland’s Tlinck Film. It has received backing from the VAF, the CCA, Wallimage-Bruxellimage, the Dutch Film Fund, Eurimages, the VRT and Tax Shelter. It is the first Flemish film whose international rights have been acquired even before the start of shooting, by Films Distribution. The film will be released in Belgium next January by Kinepolis.
This is also the first carbon neutral feature film, thanks to the use of a specific solar installation, in line with the director’s well-known environmental convictions. Shooting is expected to continue until mid-June, mainly in the Ghent region.
(Translated from French)