IFFR - FEAST in Tiger Competition
2 February 2021
FEAST BY TIM LEYENDEKKKER
A question of why...
It was a case which baffled and horrified almost everyone in the Netherlands. In Groningen in 2007, three men deliberately injected other acquaintances they met at sex parties with HIV-infected blood. In the eyes of the media, these men were evil in the extreme. Tim Leyendekker's Feast (a world premiere in IFFR Tiger Competition) explores the circumstances behind the case.
Leyendekker could easily understand the public indignation following the event. It was indeed very hard to make sense of the men's actions. The three suspects all had regular jobs. One was a bar tender, one was an account manager at an electricity company and the third was a nurse. Monsters, though, seemed to him a simplistic term to describe behaviour that was so bizarre. Why had they done it? The director decided therefore to look at the story from several different perspectives and to try to make sense of their actions.
Ask Leyendekker about the structure of the film and he wrong foots you by citing Plato's The Banquet which consists of seven monologues, all trying to find the definition of love, truth and beauty. "Sex always comes from something positive, I guess," he notes of the men's impulses. He wanted to explore the space between "the horrendous crimes" the men committed and Platonic ideals of love.
The film, produced by seriousFilm and supported by the Netherlands Film Fund, is divided into seven chapters, each shot by a separate cinematographer. The DoPs, all of whom have a different style, include veteran Reinier van Brummelen, who has worked on many Peter Greenaway films. "I thought that it would have these different viewpoints and to pack that into a format that is not a standard feature film or a standard documentary."
It's fourteen years now since the Groningen incident. "It was a very long process," the director says of the time it has taken to complete the movie. His background is in fine arts. One producer urged him early on to make Feast as a conventional art house film with a traditional narrative. He wasn't interested in that. He wanted to provoke the audience and to encourage viewers to "look critically" at the story, not just to lose themselves in it.
Yes, the director did try to contact the men convicted of the contaminations and talks of the patience he needed to persuade the convicted felons to participate. He tried to contact one man in prison through the man's lawyer. Then, after the man's release, Leyendekker received a long email. He didn't want to "push too much" so stayed in touch with the man for two years. They eventually did an interview off the record. In the end, the man agreed to be filmed.
That is followed by footage of an interview with another... who was very particular about how he should be represented on screen. That's typical of Leyendekker's blurring of lines between "what we perceive as real and what [is] not." There is an ambivalence in the storytelling style intended to put viewers on edge.
In an early scene, a police official displays all the objects (some very banal) taken from the sex parties. Among the bric a brac crammed together on a table is a dildo, sweets, Feyenoord FC replica clothing, crisps, sweets, beer and discarded old coke tins. "The sequence is 10 minutes long and it really unpacks everything that happened there [in Groningen] through objects," the director explains.
Yes, the director already has a new project on the boil. Object Memory Loss (working title) will be "a very personal film" looking at how souvenirs of the dead keep their memory alive. He is also hatching a project about writer and philosopher, Susan Sontag.
It is not certain which Tiger directors will be able to attend Rotterdam in person but Leyendekker will definitely be there. As he points out, his studio is only 500 yards from the Pathé and the Doelen, the traditional heart of the festival.
Feast P&I screening: Tue 2 Feb 09:00 CET until Fri 5 Feb 09:00 CET
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