HFM Selec­tion 2019: Jildau

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

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