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Guérin Van de Vorst • Director

"There is something about Ben that cannot be contained"


- We met up with Belgian director Guérin Van De Vorst on the occasion of the Belgian release of The Faithful Son

Guérin Van de Vorst • Director

After making many documentaries and short films (including Osez la Macédoine) The Faithful Son [+see also:
film review
interview: Guérin Van de Vorst
film profile
is the first feature film by the Belgian director Guerin Van De Vorst, a sensitive and powerful portrait of Ben – brought to life by Vincent Rottiers – a fragile and marginalised ex-prisoner who tries to find his place in the world while grappling with fatherhood. We have met up with the filmmaker to talk about the film, released today in Belgium by Cinéart.

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Cineuropa: Where did the idea for The Faithful Son come from?
Guerin Van De Vorst:
From an anecdote that a friend told me. His father came to look for him one day at school after several years of absence, providing him with some somewhat transgressive experiences. His memory of it is a little vague, because he was stuck between the happiness of seeing his father, and the feeling of experiencing things that weren't quite appropriate for his age... I started to imagine this absent father’s past, and that's how Ben's character came to life. He grew up in the volatile neighbourhoods of Brussels, fell into delinquency as a teenager, had a baby at a time when he was not capable of looking after it, and then ended up in prison.

Does the film revolve around a young man grappling with fatherhood?
It was really born out of a desire to tell the story of fragile fatherhood as it occurs and is discovered. Their meeting doesn't go as Ben had planned, his relationship with the mother is complicated. He has some bad encounters, and his life takes a particular turn. 

Are we talking about marginality and reintegration?
The film is a portrait of a man who is looking for his place in the world, and who is trying to get by. I talk about marginality in all of my films. I think it defines the malfunctions of our society.

How do you deal with the issue of radicalism?
It seemed to me quite apparent that at some point Ben would make contact with and would become the potential prey of a preacher, due to his fragility. In fact, this group of jihadists offers him a new family, one he is unable to have with his own son. It soothes an emotional void, the emptiness of meaning and the mess of his daily life. Suddenly, he has something to do, someone to guide him. His friend Anouar reaches out too, but he is already too distant, too neat and tidy for him, with his wife, his child, his business. Ben can’t see himself in Anouar, while he recognises himself in the flaws of the members of Mustapha's group.

Was there also a desire to show Brussels in a different light?
The canal, besides being very cinematic, represents a border in the heart of the city, between the city centre and Molenbeek. It is a setting that is loaded with meaning. That's where I live. And I don't think we’ve seen much of this side of Brussels on screen, especially this neighbourhood. It is not about exoticism, rather the contrary!

What is "la part sauvage" referred to in the film’s original title?
"La part sauvage" (lit. the wild part) is what makes Ben boil over a little, he's not where society wants him to be, or even where he himself wants to be. There is something in him that cannot be contained, meaning he is unable to sign the “social contract,” and find his place in society.

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(Translated from French)

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