TIFF (Short Cuts): MARLON BRANDO
9 September 2020
Room for talent
Following its selection for Cannes Critics Week, Vincent Tilanus' queer short Marlon Brando is now selected for Short Cuts competition at TIFF. Producer Loes Komen of Room for Film, the company she runs with Eva Verweij, talks to See NL.
Director Vincent Tilanus may have enrolled at the Netherlands Film Academy two years after Loes Komen and Eva Verweij but they were always aware of his talent, and sensed that future collaboration could bear fruit.
"His enthusiasm and film references to film were right up my street, and Eva's as well," comments Komen. "We always thought he was an interesting guy. He has our energy and the same way we look at films and want to make films."
Even after Komen and Verweij set up their company (winning a Student Academy Award for Marit Weerheijm's When Grey is A Colour in 2017) they kept a keen eye on Tilanus' development through film school.
"I was a big fan of his graduation film (Bladgoud, English title: Gold Leaves). It was so well directed. The way he directs his actors is so nuanced and so real - it is almost like I was watching a documentary," says Komen. "Then we danced around each other for a bit and eventually at one point I approached him and told him there was a Film Fund deadline coming up for a short film. Are you up for it? Do you have an idea? And he said, ‘yes, I have this one idea about friendship'."
The short film Marlon Brando, supported by the Netherlands Film Fund and aptly described by TIFF as "warm, wise, and irresistibly energetic", chronicles the intensely close and ultimately bittersweet friendship between queer teens Cas and Naomi.
"He had been through that and wanted to make a nostalgic film," says Komen. "This was the first time he wrote the screenplay completely by himself so it was a bit new to him, but he had our full confidence, and he did it so well and so eloquently and enthusiastically."
"I know it sounds like a cliché, but he was open to other people's opinions but never forgot his own vision. Which sounds so easy to do, but it's not, but he knows how to do that and how to get everybody on board."
"We made it on a high" Komen adds, but the completed project suffered an early disappointment when turned down for Berlin Generation 2020 selection. But the producers were continually persuaded of its qualities, and they persisted with the Cannes submission.
Room for Film is producing Tilanus' next project, the 50-minute drama Heartbeats, supported by the Netherlands Film Fund, NPO-Fund and CoBO Fund. "It is also about growing up, but at a later stage," says Komen. "Now we are all a bit older, and so is the main protagonist who is moving back in with her parents and is confused by life in general, and has to come to terms with herself. It's a bit Ladybirdish in that it revolves around the relationship between her and her mother."
"We are still searching a lot in the development," she adds. "I love this stage of filmmaking - when the film can still be anything. But I have such a trust in Vincent. He is a storyteller all the way. You can put him anywhere and people will be drawn to his stories."
On a wider note, does Komen foresee her company's eventual transition to features? It is a question she gets a lot. "Our credo has already been stolen by Ikea - ‘attention makes everything better'. I think we really want to take our time. We are so young and we started our company based on the fact that we love to work together. We learned heaps and heaps with Els [Vandevorst, N279 Entertainment, where Loes worked as a junior producer] but after two years we said let's try this and see where it takes us.
"So yes, we are searching for feature-length stories, but we want to take it slow. It still has to be fun. We want to find the feature stories that we really want to tell."
Trailer Marlon Brando: www.vimeo.com/430311046
SEE NL previously talked to Marlon Brando director Vincent Tilanus, continue to read here...
For more information:
Prod: Room for Film
Press & Industry screening: Thu 10 Sept, 11:00 TIFF Digital Cinema Pro (digitalpro.tiff.net)