After receiving a special mention at Amsterdam Lift-Off last week, short film ALZHAÏMOUR will be screening in Paris on Wednesday 1st November at the Lucernaire. We interviewed director Pierre Van de Kerckhove to hear how he found his first Lift-Off experience, and learn a little bit more about the film that went down so well with the audience.
Interview by Claire Richardson
How did you find Amsterdam Lift-Off?
In a nutshell I think it was great. It was also great to have the networking afterwards to meet lots of people, including James from Lift-Off. I had people tell me how much they loved the film – which was great.
And you have been selected to screen at our next Lift-Off in Paris!
We are very happy to have been selected to screen in Paris. Of course, we will be there! We are looking forward to screening on the last day as part of the local showcase.
Have you always worked in film?
I have worked in film for a long time, specialising in documentary for many years and I have also taught cinema to students. ALZHAÏMOUR is my first fiction film, a love story with the art of cinema.
A few years ago I came to the conclusion that I wanted to focus on fiction, and do this for the rest of my career. But yes, I was always in the film area.
What do you find to be the differences between documentary and fiction filmmaking?
I like that with fiction, it is a story that you can tell with feelings. It’s not just reproducing reality. I truly believe that with fiction you can go deep into emotions and dreams. Through fiction you can share a piece of your soul.
So where did the inspiration for ALZHAÏMOUR, your first fictive story, come from?
The starting point was actually a personal event in my life, and I started thinking about how I could demonstrate that love is something very strong, that can compete with something awful like losing your memories. This feeling remains, deep inside of you. The question was, is love printed in your DNA? Is it something that you can’t control, and remains forever? Mixing it with this sickness shows that love comes above that. I wanted to demonstrate this idealistic idea. Again, sharing my soul.
How did you go about the casting process?
It is actually a cute story! I had already worked with the main actor, Yves Jadoul, who very sadly passed away a month ago, on a small production. He is a fantastic, award-winning actor and I knew he was the one for this role of Leo.
I then started looking on casting websites to find the perfect Louise, and I shared the name and picture of someone I thought would be great for the role… and it was his wife! It is probably the reason the connection comes across so well in the film, they are real-life partners. It made my job very easy!
Did he get to see the film?
Sure. He saw it and also participated a lot with giving his feedback on a regular basis. The film was also presented to his friends, family, children and grandchildren. It’s a nice way to remind everyone who he was.
What about the crew, did you use people from your documentary films?
All of the team members on this production were actually ex-students of mine, who are now film professionals. The reason I reached out to my students from 20 years ago is because I had presented the film idea to the Cultural Ministry in Belgium three times, but never received the budget. It’s hard in Belgium from a cultural point of view, as there are a lot of community divides (the French/Flemish etc…) It’s difficult, so the film had no budget. My old students were very enthusiastic and volunteered on the project to make this first fiction film for me. It was the “dream team” and the film was a miracle!
Do you have any ideas for your second fiction film?
My next film is again about something I wanted to demonstrate, a script about communication issues between generations, as the gap betweens bigger and bigger with technology advances. Expectations are so different. This is written and ready, I am just looking for a producer to make it happen!
To end, who is your favourite director that inspires you?
One of my favourites is definitely the Mexican filmmaker, Alejandro González Iñárritu, director of Babel and Amores Perros. He is one of my inspirations.
Tickets are now on sale for Paris Lift-Off, where ALZHAÏMOUR will be screening next.