The film Gutland, directed by Govinda Van Maele in Luxembourg, is set for general release on 2 May 2018; in Luxembourgish, a number of screenings of the film will include English subtitles - on the first week of the release, at least.
Synopsis: In this surrealist rural noir, starring Frederick Lau and Vicky Krieps, a thief from a distant German city finds refuge in a small Luxembourgish village. As he is gradually integrated into the community, it emerges that he's not the only one with a past to hide...
Chronicle.lu caught up with Govinda and talked with him about the making of the film.
How did the film come about?
GVM: I directed three shorts and a feature doc before embarking on Gutland, which in a way brings together many of the themes and styles I experimented with in my previous films. I developed the script together with my producing partner, Gilles Chanial, over a period of several years. We produced it with our own production company, Les Films Fauves, in co-production with Belgian and German partners, the majority of the budget coming from the Luxembourg Film Fund, with the other countries contributing about one third.
How did you approach the casting?
GVM: In my previous films I used almost exclusively non-professional actors, but in this one I wanted a mix. For the non-professional supporting cast our casting guy, Nilton Martins, relied heavily on his extras database, people we knew were interested in films and actually have the time to work on a film shoot - which is probably the biggest challenge in casting non-professionals, they tend to be otherwise employed! For the main roles I was lucky enough to get all my first choices, no one declined! I'm also really proud of the casting of Gerdy Zint and Pit Bukowski, who play our main character's partners in crime, they're fantastic!
And the shooting locations?
GVM: Most of it was shot in Luxembourg, except one location where we'd found just the right house, but then the owners backed out. We ended up shooting that location across the border in Belgium. Even though the film is set in a single village that we never leave, we created that fictitious place out of several locations spread all over Luxembourg, namely Eschdorf, Mompach, Klengelscheier, Herborn, Biwer, Dickweiler and a patch of forest outside of Echternach. It was important for me to create a place that is somewhat stuck in the past, with a community comprised mainly of farmers, something that is almost impossible to find nowadays.
How long was the shoot, and did you have any unexpected challenges to overcome during it?
GVM: We had scheduled 37 days, shooting a week in August, then about 30 days from September to November and finally another day in January. That last day was due to actor Marco Lorenzini's arm, which he broke in October and needed time to heal so he could conduct the film's brass band! That was a gift in disguise as it gave me the possibility to grab a final landscape shot in the snow, thus completing a film set over three seasons! And that brings me to the biggest challenge we faced: the weather. That's always a challenge in filmmaking as it's the only thing that is impossible to plan, but in our case we had the added difficulty that we relied on the wheat and corn harvest, with very complicated scenes planned at particular moments during the harvest. Try asking a farmer three months in advance on what day he will harvest his wheat! They wish they could give you a precise answer, but the truth is they can only tell a couple of days in advance. Frederick Lau predicted I'd have grey hair by the end of the shoot, but I'm proud to report that my hair has made it through unscathed!
Gutland was produced by Les Films Fauves and produced with the support of Film Fund Luxembourg.