Tekst (smal)

Sundance 2024: Dutch producer Frank Hoeve

Interview by Geoffrey Macnab

Dutch producer Frank Hoeve is off to Sundance this weekend where his company BALDR is involved in two films premiering in competition at the festival, Belgian auteur Johan Grimonprez’s Soundtrack to a Coup d'Etat and In the Land of Brothers from Iranian directors Raha Amirfazli and Alireza Ghasemi.

Still: Soundtrack to a Coup d'Etat - Johan Grimonprez

“The crazy thing that happened was that both films were scheduled for the same date and the same time,” Hoeve sighs. Thankfully, he managed to persuade the festival not to screen the two movies simultaneously, but they are still showing on the same day.

And, yes, Hoeve hopes to strap on the skis during his time in Park City, Utah. “I hear they are the best ski slopes in the world. I don’t want to miss out on that.”

The long gestating Grimonprez doc looks at protests at the UN against the murder in 1961 of Congolese leader, Patrice Lumumba. One character who features prominently is political activist Andrée Blouin, a speechwriter for Lumumba and pioneer of female emancipation in Africa. The film also tells the story of how jazz legend Louis Armstrong was sent to Congo as part of a US cover-up of an ongoing coup.

The film’s main producer is Daan Milius from zap-o-matik who co-produced with BALDR as well as French partner Rémi Grellety of Warboys Films. US outfit Submarine is handling sales.

“Indeed, it took a very, very long time [to complete] because the whole film consists of archive and musical recordings. Everything needed to be found but also to be cleared,” Hoeve says of a project which BALDR has now been involved with for three years. Much of the sound design was completed in the Netherlands by Dutch-based Croatian Ranko Paukovic.

The doc has a personal resonance for Hoeve who grew up in Gabon, close to Congo.

“My father was working there. I feel an urge to tell stories from the continent.” What’s more, given the music in the film, Hoeve “can’t wait to show it to my mother who is a very fanatic jazz lover!”

Hoeve’s other Sundance-bound project, In the Land of Brothers* co-directed by Raha Amirfazli and Alireza Qasemi, faced tough challenges of its own. 

The film concerns the struggles of members of an Afghan family who move as refugees to Iran, unaware of the ultimate price expected of them as outliers in this (un)welcoming environment. It was produced by the directors through their company Limited Circle in Iran itself. Hoeve is co-producing alongside Adrien Barrouillet, Charles Meresse and Emma Binet of French outfit, Furyo Films.

Barrouillet contacted Hoeve to see if he was interested in joining the production. BALDR had already produced a film from an Iranian director, Kaweh Modiri’s Mitra** (2020). He had also worked on an Afghan-themed film, Mijke De Jong’s Along the Way* (2022), about twin Afghan sisters trying to reach Europe and survive in a world of smugglers and drug dealers. Hoeve is currently completing the Afghan film Sima’s Song by Roya Sadat.

Hoeve was swept up by Barrouillet’s enthusiasm for In the Land of Brothers. “I really felt this was a story which should be made." Sound editing for the film was completed in the Netherlands. 

Now, the film has a top French sales agent on board, Alpha Violet, and is expected to go on a major festival run.

Looking ahead, Hoeve suggests BALDR will make fewer documentaries but he has several new projects on the boil, among them Morgan Knibbe’s Philippines-set The Garden Of Earthly Delights** and Sam de Jong’s buzz project Joe’s Speedboat.

In the Land of Brothers (original title Dar Sarzamin-e Barâdar)

Prod: Furyo Films (FR), Limited Circle (IR)
Co-prod: BALDR Film (NL), Cinema Tehran (IR), Avidia (FR)
Sales: Alpha Violet

Soundtrack to a Coup D'Etat*
Prod:  Onomatopee Films (BE), Warboys Films (FR)
Co-prod: BALDR Film (NL)

Sales: Submarine Entertainment & Mediawan.

Sundance takes place on January 18 - 28. For more information, click here


*Film is supported by the Netherlands Film Fund
**Film is supported by the Production Incentive