IDFA 2019: King of the Cruise
Not so long ago, filmmaker Sophie Dros was in the Eye building in Amsterdam, watching boats on the river pass by. Among them, she noticed a cruise ship. Dros first thought to herself what a hellish experience it would be as a passenger on such a trip, in such a claustrophobic setting. Her next thought was that this could be an ideal setting for a film.
"For me, a documentary always starts with something I don't understand. I just want to dive in and find out if it is something I can learn to understand," Dros (whose earlier film My Silicon Love was about men and love dolls) says of the instinct that led her to set off on a cruise around the Caribbean, one that she anticipated she would hate.
A fellow passenger was Baron Ronald Busch Reisinger of Inneryne, a flamboyant figure who claimed to be part of the Scottish aristocracy. Through production company HALAL, she had already managed to contact the Baron and had met him in Edinburgh. He had agreed to be the main character in the film.
Dros found the Baron "very demanding." She didn't always agree with his right wing and sexist views. "For me, as a feminist film maker, that is sometimes difficult to hear and see." However, she also realised he was a fascinating character. "I don't think you have to be friends to make a film," she reflects.
The Baron could easily have been made into a figure of fun but Dros was determined to treat him with respect and to "protect" him. "I wanted to make a film about visibility, about a person who really feels the need to be seen and to tell people about who he is."
Reisinger seems to be the soul of the party but she detected a loneliness and insecurity underneath his bluster.
Making King of the Cruise (IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary) required director Dros to spend weeks in an environment that, in normal circumstances, she would have been desperate to avoid. "I am quite like the Baron in a way. I probably have a really big need to be seen and to matter. Otherwise, I don't know why I would have forced myself to make this film."
The Baron has already seen the documentary. He had very mixed feelings about it. "He told me that I made him [look] way more lonely than he really is. I told him I portrayed him quite well. I think he expected something else, a big, bombastic show around him. Instead, he found the film quite slow and boring and that it made him look like a lonely old man. "
Whatever his reservations, Reisinger still plans to attend the IDFA premiere. "His words were that he is a professional so he will show up. No matter what his opinion is about the film, the most important thing (for him) is that the film is going to be seen."
SEE NL Magazine #37 November 2019 / 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.