CineMart catch-up: Olivia Sophie van Leeuwen
27 January 2024
The Halal producer of Vincent Boy Kars’ IFFR 2024 selection Future Me talks to IFFR Pro about the business of producing, especially with one of the Netherlands’ brightest filmmaking talents.
Olivia Sophie van Leeuwen is happy to admit how, before embarking on a career in film, she didn’t really know there was a difference between direction and production. To compound matters when she set off to New York to study actual direction she soon discovered that production was more her thing.
“I think I love development even more than the production phase. So I decided to become a producer, but hopefully a very creative one”
“I noticed that I really liked the business side of it and the arranging everything and getting all the right people together – and I really, really love development,” she explains to IFFR Pro about her change of heart. “I think I love development even more than the production phase. So I decided to become a producer, but hopefully a very creative one.”
Van Leeuwen is the producer of Dutch wunderkind Vincent Boy Kars’ experimental feature selection Future Me, selected for IFFR 2024 in Harbour and marking the final part of his highly personal ‘millennial’ trilogy of films, following Independent Boy (2017) and Drama Girl (2020).
As the film notes underline, both Kars himself and actor Martijn Lakemeier play Vincent, engaging in dialogue with Vincent's mother, his father, his girlfriend Eva, a therapist, and others, to examine how he became the person that he is today. Can he free himself from his past and become the person he wants to be in the future?
Vincent Boy Kars and producer Olivia Sophie van Leeuwen
“The film is highly personal, yet very universal – holding up a mirror for the viewer”
“In Future Me, Kars is more vulnerable than ever, sharing his emotional struggles for the first time,” the notes continue. “The result is Kars’ most personal, intimate and multi-layered film to date, resonating far beyond the confines of the cinematic universe he has created in recent years. The film is highly personal, yet very universal – holding up a mirror for the viewer.”
Kars has a reputation both for high levels of industry and sublime attention to detail. “He's one of the hardest working directors I've worked with. He knows very well what he wants and for him all the details are super important,” Van Leeuwen explains. “He can spend hours thinking about 10 seconds of music in the film. Every element is crazy important to him. I also think he's super brave as a director. I remember the first time that he told me that he wanted to be the leading character in his final film. He said, I just have to do it because I asked so much from Metin [Fennema] in Independent Boy and Leyla [de Muynck] in Drama Girl. And I can only finish it when I open myself up in the third one.”
Producer Van Leeuwen has always maintained close relations with IFFR. Drama Girl world-premiered there in 2020 and Future Me was presented at CineMart 2021. What’s more, the producer has spoken in the past at Rotterdam Lab and IFFR Pro events.
“I think IFFR is a festival where they dare to really choose different projects and to experiment”
“I think we're super lucky to have IFFR in the Netherlands because it's such a fantastic festival and it really helps the industry,” Van Leeuwen explains, further explaining the similarities between production company Halal and the festival in terms of creative aesthetics. “I think IFFR is a festival where they dare to really choose different projects and to experiment. I think with the whole trilogy of Vincent, all three films are very much experiments and also films that are now being studied at film schools etc, because what they do is so new, so different in their form. That’s why it's really important for Halal to make films like that as well. Not only to focus on the big audience films, but also really embrace the art of cinema, as does IFFR.”