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Sick, Sick, Sick by Alice Furtado

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When Frank Hoeve listened to the pitch for Brazilian Alice Furtado’s debut feature Sick, Sick, Sick he was immediately hooked, writes Geoffrey Macnab.

The Dutch producer (co-owner of BALDR Films) has always admired Latin American magical realism and Furtado’s film (presented at CineMart in 2016) was a story that fascinated him. It’s a tale of teenage love and death – and of a young woman’s obsessive desire to bring her sweetheart back to life after he bleeds to death. “It was a good pitch. I thought it was a film about teenagers, about love but also about mourning,” Hoeve remembers of the romance which also has horror elements. “I really liked the young, driven team behind it.”

Hoeve’s BALDR first burst onto the international scene with its Morgan Knibbe documentary Those Who Feel The Fire Burning, which competed at IDFA in 2015. BALDR has always been an outward looking company but had never co-produced with Latin America before. Any wariness quickly vanished when Hoeve realised that his new partners, Brazil’s Estudio Giz, were both open and professional. “They knew what they were doing, They were guiding Alice (the director) very well.”

The film, selected for Quinzaine and supported by the NFF+HBF co-pro scheme, was partly shot on an island in Brazil. Visual effects and colour grading were done in the Netherlands and play an important role in the film. This may be an arthouse title but it’s one that Hoeve hopes will have appeal for younger Dutch cinemagoers as well as for older cinephiles. BALDR also took on the task of designing the film’s poster.

Hoeve has always combined fiction and documentary. When he launched the company in 2012 with Katja Draaijer, it was “faster” to secure funding for docs than for dramatic features. “We don’t tend to talk about either fiction or documentary…we talk about films. Our documentaries are very hybrid,” Hoeve explains.

The company’s current slate is typically varied. There is a very ambitious Dutch-German-Danish co-production Mitra about an Iranian academic based in Amsterdam who discovers disturbing new evidence about the traitor who may have been responsible for her daughter’s death many years before. BALDR is also working on The Stranger, a Chinese co-pro with Shengze Zhu, winner of  IFFR Tiger competition this year with her film Present.Perfect.
Meanwhile, the company is working on another Latin American project, Alex Piperno’s Window Boy Would Also Like To Have A Submarine. Made with Brazilian and Argentinean partners, this is currently in post-prod. BALDR also has a new project with Knibbe, The Garden Of Earthly Delights, set in Manila.

Hoeve acknowledges the paradox that the Dutch are regularly involved with films chosen for Cannes – but more often as minority co-producers. “But I am happy that I see so many Dutch films lately getting recognised internationally [at other major festivals],” Hoeve notes of  features like Dirty God that have been feted on the international circuit. As long as young Dutch directors continue to make “innovative, challenging” films, he is confident that they will also secure top slots at events like Cannes.

Sick, Sick Sick is represented by Alpha Violet, and is bound to be picked up by many international buyers. Hoeve has deliberately delayed bringing on a Dutch distributor in advance of Cannes. He wanted the Dutch to see the completed version of the film in the best possible circumstances with the Cannes festival audience.

“We make international films, both for the Dutch and for the international audience,” Hoeve declares as if it is a mission statement. He also acknowledges the role of the Production Incentive. “It is fantastic we have been opening up for co-production possibilities. We’ve gained so many more opportunities.”

SEE NL Magazine #35 May 2019 / Cannes - Annecy Issue
SEE NL is published four times per year by Eye International and The Netherlands Film Fund and is distributed to international film professionals.

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