Before his selection for HFM 2019 producer/director Fedde Hoekstra likened the business of raising the finance for his feature debut Jildauto preparing for a 15-round boxing match. After the selection, his outlook is altogether different.
“It feels like I have knocked down my opponent in the first ten seconds of the first round. I am very excited.”
Jildau is an adaptation of ‘Het Zondagsbed’ (‘The Sunday Bed’) by Dutch writer Theun de Vries, a novel that Hoekstra refers to as “a forgotten masterpiece of Dutch literature.” In the story, an independent female farmer shares her bed with three farm hands, but when she transforms a young deserter into her chosen one, jealousy ignites.
Even though the original is set in the mid-19th Century on the border between Finland and Russia, Hoekstra’s piece is not so time or place specific. It will however retain a “fairytale perspective which gives more freedom with clothing and interiors. The time period is a bit of a blur, for example, there\‘s no light by electricity but only lamplight and candles.”
That said, Hoekstra is Friesian (from the north of Holland) and the Friesian language and region are key elements within the telling of his story. Right now the script also English-language but the director is very keen to explore the possibility of embracing another minority European language. He is prepared to be very flexible in accommodating the necessities of the production. “We can choose, for example, a Spanish co-producer and make in Basque and Friesian, or an Irish co-producer and make it in Gaelic and Friesian. That would be very interesting for me. Right now I am looking for an English co-producer, but there are different ways to make a film, and I know that if you have a minority language in your film that opens up doors to extra funding within a European context.”
Hoekstra is especially excited by the idea of an Irish co-production as Ireland can supply the dramatic landscapes that Friesland lacks. “The scenic quality of the landscape is like a mirror of what is going on in the characters.”
The log-line refers to Jildauas a neo-noir. How does Hoekstra explain this? “The film is a combination of a western, a tragic love story and some fantasy elements, and the look of the film will be dark and brooding and eerie. It is not a 1940s-style black and white film with a detective but there will be a lot of smoking going on and we will be using a lot of the lighting techniques of film noir, such as dark/light contrast. And there is crime involved in the last act.”
Hoekstra is eager to go into production next year with a release date scheduled for 2021. “The story takes place on a large farm for most of the film, and because we are following the life of a female farmer the four seasons are very prominent in the film,” he stresses. “So if we get it together in time we will shoot 4 segments of ten days across each season next year. If by tomorrow there is a million dollars in my bank we will start pre-production tomorrow and shoot this winter!”
Written by Nick Cunningham