59th THESSALONIKI INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL [1-11/11/2018] || 1-11/11/2018
Nanouk Leopold Press Conference
The 59th Thessaloniki International Film Festival welcomed the Dutch film director Nanouk Leopold, whom honors this year with a tribute to her work.
The filmmaker gave a press conference on Saturday November 3, 2018 in the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, moderated by TIFF’s head of international program Yorgos Krassakopoulos.
Mr Krassakopoulos noted that some critics describe Leopold’s films as female. She replied that when, after completing her studies, she started making films, her main characters were women; still, she always felt surprised when asked about such choices. “It is very funny that all this is coming back now, though the main characters in my two perhaps more successful films were male. Anyway, my next film will be about a woman hunter around 50 years old, in a Canadian setting”, she added. She made a comparison with art house films, saying that she cannot see why anyone should choose a certain kind of films instead of being open to all challenges. “Try everything, try some variety”, she said.
Nanouk Leopold seemed happily surprised when Mr Krassakopoulos described her films as open experiences with experimental mood, yet able to address a wider audience. “In my country, the Netherlands, my films are considered very difficult and serious, but I really like them to be considered open”, she said. Though she described as “dark” the topics that her films deal with, she explained that the main topic, family, prevails in a large part of her filmography. “If you think about it, the smallest human community is the relationship between two people. We all understand the sense of family, whether we like it or not. In my films, the characters do not love family much. Anyway, I think there are films that tell you exactly what you must feel and others that create such an atmosphere that you finally get to decide by yourself”.
On how she handles space in her shots, Nanouk Leopold said that even before she finishes screenwriting she can “see” the shot unfold right before her eyes. She described scriptwriting as one of the hardest parts of her work and insisted on the importance of space for her. “I started out as a visual artist and while in the school of fine arts we studied space exhaustively. A character’s feelings may be inextricably linked with the space they’re in”, she said.
She stressed that she tries to work with the same people in all her movies because they understand each other easier, with less talking. “With my director of photography in my latest film, Cobain, we saw the script together and didn’t have to say anything else. We have built an alphabet of our own. We work a lot with what I call intuition. We set the rules from the beginning and then there are no more rules”, she noted. And added that she ends up making two main pieces relating to the film: One is the film itself and the other all instant inspirations of its contributors. Asked about how much space each one of these pieces cover in the film, she replied that many elements are improvisations, but the main structure of the film is predetermined. “You build the main framework with specific rules, but then you can play with the number of tiles on the roof, or the length and width of the walls”, she explained.
“If you ask me what exactly is that I’m doing in my films, I would say that I bring my personal intuition to them”, she added. On occasion of the tribute to her work organized by the 59th TIFF, she said that she feels very awkward watching her first attempts to make films. Yet she believes that her personal imprint was already there and she learned to support and trust it more in the years that followed. “If you are used in being guided in films, being taken by the hand and told how to feel, then you may feel disoriented in my films. You may not understand the meaning of a scene and need to look elsewhere to find it. The only place where you can look, of course, is inside you. I think this helps you feel my movie, appreciate it internally”, She also noted that she is not interested in shooting dramatic scenes the usual, conventional way. “I am a little suspicious towards feelings, I don’t know if I can trust them”, she concluded.