IDFA 2018: But Now is Perfect
20 November 2018
Carin Goeijers' But Now is Perfect , a mid-length film about the European migration crisis selected for IDFA Dutch and Midlength Competitions, is a superbly crafted tale of tragedy heaped on tragedy. The director talks to Nick Cunningham.
When we first encounter Nigerian Becky, she is fun, single and optimistic. She has a penchant for shoes and believes that her arrival in the Calabrian village of Riace heralds a new beginning. But we also find out very soon in Carin Goeijers' highly moving film that Becky is dead, yet another victim of the global refugee crisis, and her poignant story is told in retrospect.
Riace has been a cause célêbre over the past years. More or less abandoned by its indigenous population, progressive Mayor Lucano opened its doors to the new migrants both to offer muchneeded succour and also to breathe new life into the village. Which was more or less the story that Goeijers thought she would be telling during her year and a half in residence. "I had a plan to film this positive story about immigration, but when I got there with my camera everything started to collapse. There was no money coming into the village anymore... and then the problems started," she stresses.
In the film, tensions develop when regional funding dries up, and inevitable (and unsubstantiated) claims of fraud against the mayor are levelled. The village can no longer sustain its new migrant population and many of the refugees are forced to move on, some to the San Ferdinando refugee camp which, as we see before the film's conclusion, is destroyed by fire. This was the place to which Becky was eventually dispatched - and where she died.
"Maybe it sounds like I was making a political story but I wasn't, I never make political stories... the human condition is always my major interest," Goeijers underlines. "But for me it was kind of crazy because I never expected that the person I was filming was going to be dead at the end of the film."
The film inevitably revolves around Becky, but Goeijers offers up a host of secondary characters who greatly enrich the work. The older refugee Djemila tells how she disapproved of Becky, especially the fact that she was single. "She doesn't have respect or status, it's a chaos," Djemila affirms. Meanwhile, a refugee pastor casts out evil spirits from his migrant flock. Refugee Daniel joins the local marching band as a cymbal player while Mohammed prepares his ramshackle domicile for the unlikely arrival of his family from Africa. The kind Italian shopkeeper Mirella sheds genuine tears at the memory of Becky, and the father of Mayor Lucano loyally confirms his son's probity and generosity.
The tale of Becky provides a perfect, albeit tragic narrative arc for the film, arriving as an ingenue before her eventual interment within the village cemetery.
"But there are two sides of course," adds Goeijers. "She was really one of my favourite people because of her joy. She was so friendly and sweet, and of course I was, and still am very sad, that she has passed away. But at the same time the filmmaker in me stands up and says ‘well I have to tell this story for Becky'.
"I have to make my film but it is as important to make a statement for her as well. With her I want to tell a human story about this awful political situation, one that the whole world is experiencing right now, especially here in Europe", Goeijers concludes.
SEE NL Magazine #33 November 2018 / IDFA Issue
SEE NL is published four times per year by EYE International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.