Yesterday we started to share the first of the series of interviews with the chosen directors of the Future Frames programme, at the 50th Karlovy Vary Film Festival. From 10 different European film schools, 10 young film students and graduates are being introduced to the press, to producers, agents, and other important members of the film industry. Now let’s meet Raphaël Crombez from Belgium, the director of the short film Perdition County.
How does it feel to be invited into the Future Frames programme?
I feel incredibly honored and proud to be part of this new initiative and to be able to celebrate my short film’s international premiere at the 50th Karlovy Vary International film festival. It’s very encouraging to see how my graduation film is gaining that much exposure, especially in the company of the other 9 promising filmmakers. It’s also rewarding for everyone who worked on this film to see that their dedication, on what was a massive and risky filmmaking endeavor, has really paid off.
How would you describe your short film in one sentence? What does it mean to you?
Perdition County portrays a suspenseful and visually engaging journey in a timeless setting about a man’s escape from dogma, perpetual violence and his own complicity. This short film is a true passion project of mine for which I dedicated 2 years of my life and it stems from a series of illustrations I had drawn, while listening to the music of Jonny Greenwood and Krzysztof Penderecki. So it’s a work that’s inspired by various artists that have shaped me into the person I am today, and that deals with my frustration towards powerlessness and dogmatic oppression.
What’s the first line in the film? What or who are we seeing in the opening scene? What are the colors?
The first line is ‘Get me those scalps.’ These words are commanded by the film’s antagonist to the protagonist, Desmond, about 2 minutes into the film; so this isn’t the opening scene. The silhouette of someone scalping a man on his knees and the aftermath of a house raid sets the mood, layered with a mixture of morning mist and the fumes of smoldering campfires. The color palette at this point consists of deep greens from the wooded setting, blacks from the characters’ attire and browns from their weaponry. The sound of mud and the smell/the touch of dawn’s dampness against the skin are tangible.
How was the circumstances of the shooting?
The circumstances of principal photography were physically demanding, yet simultaneously rewarding. We shot everything in the middle of nowhere and there was always room for surprise; day one of photography had us scaling the mountains of Brecon Beacons, with generators and heavy camera equipment in hand. But the dedication, the overall atmosphere among the cast and crew, the vistas and the footage at the end of the day made it always feel worthwhile. We all got to see the wonders of South-Wales, and though the seven days of production were taxing, we can only look back at it with pride accompanied by memorable anecdotes.
What do you expect from the Future Frames programme?
As this is a very new initiative, I don’t have a clear-cut idea of what I can expect. What I do know is that it’ll be an interesting experience to get to know the other 9 filmmakers, to discuss film with them and to just enjoy this impactful rollercoaster for which I’m grateful. I really appreciate the amount of focus European Film Promotion is dedicating to us young aspiring filmmakers, and I commend them for it. I’m looking forward to a great projection of all 10 short films on the big screen and to finally share my film with a much larger audience.
How is the situation of short film in your country?
The climate of filmmaking and short films specifically in Belgium is very fruitful from what I have seen, heard and experienced so far. Aside from having different fantastic film schools in its major cities, Belgium annually holds prestigious and inclusive (short) film festivals such as Film Fest Gent, Leuven International Short Film Festival, Brussels Short Film Festival and Film Festival Ostend. These come hand in hand with incredible awards and encouraging support from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund and Flanders Image that will contribute to placing you on the map in the Belgian film industry. All of this combined works very effectively on film students, their relentlessness and aspirations.
Will you keep on making short films in the future, even after graduation?
Absolutely. I’m currently developing my next short film with the help of the Wildcard grant that the Flanders Audiovisual Fund awarded me. It’s another massive undertaking, as I’m working to make the big transition to making feature films in the (near) future. This is what I wish to do for the rest of my life.
Read the previous interview with one of the other Future Frames director, Martina Buchelová.