Interview with Joren Molter
Director of "Greetings from Kropsdam" (NL)
KVIFF - Karlovy Vary International Film Festival 2017 - Future Frames: Ten New Filmmakers to Follow
Name: Miha Veingerl
C. Photo Credit: Greetings from Kropsdam (2016)
Dutch filmmaker Joren Molter became an artist early in his life and got his first nomination for the national film award at the age of 16. It is also reflected by his demeanour. Despite the fact that he is still only in his early twenties, he instantly appears as more confident, even dominant in a conversation than the majority of his Future Frames colleagues. In Karlovy Vary, he presented his graduation film from the Netherlands Film Academy, a piece about a different type of dominance – peer pressure. Greetings from Kropsdam has gained much praise and some awards from the festivals like short film festival Nijmegen and Warsaw IFF.
It tells the story of a small village in the Netherlands. Everybody knows each other, the community is peaceful. At least until an energy company wants to invest there and Lammert (Ruud Poiesz), the village pigeon watcher, makes a tiny, yet crucial mistake accidentally.
In the light of your film, would you say that people behave differently in a group than individually?
Joren Molter: I grew up in a village like Kropsdam, and I was busy with theatre and making films when I was about 13. The people in the village didn't accept this kind of things, so I really wanted to tell a story about oppressive feelings in a village,it was my personal motive. A group turning against an individualis a very universal thing. What I find most interesting about that mechanism, is how people are crossing their limits far more when they are in the group than they would do individually. Talking about radicalisation, that is something that frightens me a lot. You can see it in every layer of our community, people projecting their fears.
You are using a lot of diagonal compositions and long shots in your film. Why?
JM: We shot Kropsdam on different kind of lenses, called tilt-shift lenses. We were inspired by painters from the 18th century. Back then a lot of European painters were coming to Amsterdam to paint the skies, but they weren't that good at painting houses. This lens can correct the falling angles. That's how we created the puppet house feeling. The lines in the image aren't falling to one point but they are falling just straight down. That's also how the painters did it.
We chose an objective view on purpose because I didn't want to tell the story from Lammert’s point of view. I wanted to show how this mechanism is working. I see the viewers a member of that community as well. Standing there in Kropsdam, we would probably do the same. We would choose the side of the villagers and wouldn't be able to help Lammert because it's scary to break away from the group.
The plot twist is very subtle and the humour very dry. Have you ever considered making it more expressive?
JM: We wanted the film to start off as a sort of laughable dark comedy that would not be a comedy in the end any longer, because a lot of nasty things happen. I really like the films where you don't know if you should cry or laugh. The first part of the movie is more obvious, there are some jokes. It was a conscious choice to downscale that by the end. Sometimes you think it's still funny but that's just because of the mood you set in at the beginning.
I thought it would be very funny that it is just one tiny thing that sets the ball rolling, and that might have very big consequences. Of course, it is a slow film. You shouldn't see it on a laptop. We really made it for the big screen. In a cinema, you will actually go from one point to the next inside a frame, but if you are watching it on a laptop, you won't have that feeling.
Do you think that anything would change in the village if there was no intrusion from the outside world?
JM: Considering how this is going, it would happen anyway. It could also be the building of a school or a mosque. There is a saying in Dutch that when you are a plant and you are growing faster than the others, people will cut you down. That is happening to Lammert. The funny part is that he is neither for nor against the subject matter. Like everybody in Kropsdam, he just wants to live his life.