Rifka Lodeizen shines in Marleen Jonkman’s directorial debut, road movie La Holandesa. Maud dumps her boyfriend to travel around Chile by herself, wrestling with sorrow about her inability to have children.
The film had its international premiere at the film festival in Toronto and its European premiere at IFFR in Rotterdam, from where it was streamed to cinemas around the world as part of IFFR Live. So La Holandesa certainly has some international appeal.
“This is partly thanks to the setting. The fact that the story is set somewhere else also helps. But the most important thing is that the film is about a universal feeling – the feeling that, when you are somewhere else you act differently, and maybe even think you are somehow different. Only to finally discover – this comes at the end of the film, in the desert – that you will always have to rely on yourself, who you really are. This is not a very Dutch premise – except perhaps for Maud’s audacity. Toronto is a really big festival, with the likes of Angelina Jolie on the red carpet, and La Holandesa was a small film among all these huge names. The premiere in Rotterdam was exceptional – partly also because another of my projects, the KPN series Fenix, had its premiere there at the same time. I get the impression IFFR selects more on the basis of content, and it’s an inspirational place for me anyway. I always see fascinating films there, and you can always end up sitting next to a Japanese master filmmaker in the Chinese restaurant round the corner. You meet incredible people, people who all share the same goal: to make beautiful films.”
Seven weeks of shooting in Chile... what do you say to people who think that sounds like a glorified holiday?
“That it was anything but a holiday. Being away from home for such a long time, leaving my two girls behind – the youngest turned six while I was away – that’s not easy. Also, it was incredibly hard work, with a small crew. We made the same journey as in the film: 4,500 kilometres from Santiago to Patagonia, and all the way up. The whole film was shot pretty much chronologically: we did the final shot of the film on our last day there, which was really exceptional. I was the only one who didn’t get ill during the trip, probably because I don’t eat meat (laughs). And I was lucky I didn’t get altitude sickness, on the Atacama Salt Flats. We spent three days on the boat, and I did get a little seasick, but luckily there are pills for that. There was such bad weather we had to stop shooting for a whole day; we were being flung from one side of the cabin to the other. There was also a storm brewing in the outside world that day: it was the day of the American presidential elections.”
La Holandesa is a directorial debut. Did you need a lot of convincing before you accepted the role?
“Not at all! My first response when I read the script was, ‘shit, this is a good one!’ I am attracted by roles that are difficult to make believable. Some people are deeply moved by the film, others not so much. It’s not an in-between film with something for everyone, and I think that’s a good thing. But yes, it did mean seven weeks away from home, so I had to talk to my family about that. Luckily, my partner is very generous about these things. A debut film is particularly exciting of course, but the most important factor was that it clicked between Marleen and me.”
Read the interview with Marleen JonkmanClick here
Chance and random encounters play a big role in the road movie genre. The dreamy, at times capricious, nature of La Holandesa made me think that this could have been the case during the making of the film?
“I take that as a huge compliment, because what you see on the screen is exactly what was written in the script. We didn’t improvise a thing. If the story comes across as if it is all unfolding naturally, then we were successful in what we set out to do. Of course, you have to submit to different circumstances when you are abroad. If you shoot a scene on the road in the Netherlands, you get all the permits and reserve all the parking spaces. In Chile, you have to take it as it comes and just see whether the road is open or not. But we were well prepared: the producer had made this trip once before, and the director twice."
All the films that premièred in this edition of IFFR Live were by female filmmakers. And if you read the credits for La Holandesa, it’s clear that a large proportion of those involved were female. Is the Netherlands leading the way in this respect?
“Yes, the director, the producer and the screenwriter are all women, to name just a few. I think female directors are exceptional makers anyway, with contemporary stories to tell. In the case of La Holandesa, I would have found it stranger if a man had directed it. I think we are moving in the right direction in terms of the proportion of women in the film world. Not that that says anything about equal pay, though.”
Photo in header: Interview: Anton Damen