Cédric Bourgeois • Director of Krump
"I’m happy to have been able to take risks with this film"
- The young Belgian filmmaker chatted with us about his first feature film, a hopeless comedy following the tragicomic tribulations of an ex-porn actor
We met with young Belgian director Cédric Bourgeois who is presenting his first feature film Krump [+see also:
interview: Cédric Bourgeois
film profile] - a hopeless comedy following the tragicomic tribulations of an ex-porn actor forced to find an outrageous amount of money in order to save his kidnapped daughter – in the Brussels International Film Festival’s National Competition.
Cineuropa: How did this project come about?
Cédric Bourgeois: Initially, I was working on another project more along the lines of my short films - quite dark and malevolent - but I was getting bogged down with the writing. The Film Centre launched a call for small-budget projects: we would have two years to finish the film, we just needed to deliver a 5-page synopsis. I felt the time was right to try something different. I wanted a bit of light-heartedness, to move towards comedy.
I’d wanted to work with Jean-Benoît Ugeux for a long time, who I’d directed in some really gritty roles, but who I’d often seen in comedies. I think I wanted to make a feel-good movie, to move away from darkness. But that’s not what actually happened in the end (laughter). It’s a huge risk to step outside of your usual line of films; I had a lot of doubts.
The comedy in the film comes from the fact that your characters are faced with situations they’re not prepared for, so that it ends up verging on tragedy. How did you manage this shift? It can’t be easy anchoring comedy in reality…
I found myself caught up in the habits I’d developed while making my short films. I’ve often focused on people on the margins, who are struggling to keep their heads above water, caught up in things that are bigger than they are, and who have to survive whatever’s going on. It’s something that came to me straight away; I didn’t need to create a superhero, just an ordinary man. That’s where the awkwardness and clumsiness come in, which make us laugh, but which also make us despair. I wanted to have fun with all that. In real life, me and my friends often laugh about tragic things. Somehow it helps us to carry on. I like those types of comedies, which we often associate with the Coen brothers, the Safdie brothers and Todd Solondz, but which you’ll also find in Belgian cinema, in Xavier Seron’s films or Benoît Mariage’s, for example.
But at the end of the day, comedy is a really instinctive thing, we didn’t think about it too much. Jean-Benoît Ugeux and I know each other really well, and the same goes for Xavier Seron who joined us towards the end of the writing phase, and Jean-Jacques Raisin who plays the hero’s buddy, and we took inspiration from our own lives. We shared our joyous moments but also challenging times in our lives, and we managed to laugh about them.
How did you create the character of Frank, aka Ronald Krump?
To begin with, we started with the character of Donald Trump: a vulgar and dodgy guy who I imagined would have a really acerbic sense of humour, a character who might sometimes be dishonest, who we don’t necessarily empathise with.
During the writing phase, Frank quickly turned into a loser. He’s Trump, just after his defeat. He’s practically living on the streets. And most importantly, he’s someone with a knack for surviving day-by-day. We spent quite a lot of time working on his relationship with his daughter. Frank is a father and that’s where empathy comes back into play. He clearly wants to be a good dad, but fatherhood - just like motherhood - is something we idealise an awful lot. Being a good father isn’t always that straightforward. It might even be the last remaining thing that gives him hope, and which draws out his humanity. Without his daughter, he’s nothing but an idiot.
What did you gain from filming under lightweight conditions?
Creative freedom. The film obviously has its weaknesses, but I’m happy to have had the option to take risks.
(Translated from French)
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