Tekst (smal)

Karlovy Vary: producer Frank Hoeve

Interview by Nick Cunningham

BALDR Film’s Frank Hoeve guides SEE NL through the company’s four minority co-production selected for the Czech Republic’s annual celebration of international auteur cinema.

Still: Banzo - Margarida Cardoso

BALDR Film is minority producer on four films selected for Karlovy Vary, the leading Czech auteur film festival running 28 June to 6 July 2024.

Crystal Globe Competition hosts the International Premiere of Portuguese Margarida Cardoso’s Banzo**. In 1907, Afonso starts life a new on a tropical island off the African coast as a doctor on a cocoa plantation. He will have to cure a group of servants “infected” by a disease known as banzo, the nostalgia of the slaves. They are dying by the dozens, from starvation or suicide. Fearing that this deep nostalgia is contagious, the group is sent to an isolated and rainy hill, surrounded by the forest. There, Afonso tries to cure the servants, but his inability to understand their soul proves to be stronger than all the solutions.

“The film is set on Sao Tome Island, an island where I spent my childhood many times while growing up in Gabon,” says co-producer Frank Hoeve, boss of Baldr Film. “Margarida made more films there, and in Mozambique. Both are former colonies of Portugal.” The Dutch component on the Portugal/France/Netherlands comprised make-up, sound and grip. “They had a crazy ride in adventurous terms,” Hoeve says of the Netherlands personnel involved. Sales on the film are handled by the Portuguese production company Uma Pedra no Sapato.

World-premiering in Proxima Competition is the US/China/Netherlands/Norway/France co-production Stranger by Chinese filmmaker Zhengfan Yang. 

The synopsis reads how the hotel room is a place where everyone is a stranger. A place that is yours for just a moment. A temporarily intimate space entered by a maid in order to clean it while, if possible, not leaving a trace of her visit. Each episode of Stranger is set in such a place, and each is captured in one long take. Weaving together a series of episodic stories – some humorous and absurd, some poignant and mysterious – that all unfold within a seemingly confined space, Stranger explores the idea of home while being away from it, and sheds light on the distinctive yet universal experiences of isolation and loneliness.

“It was very difficult to start filming as the principal photography was [originally set for] 2020,” says Hoeve. “We finally were able to film it in China in 2022. I met Zhengfan and his Tiger Award winner producer Shengze Zhu at CineMart in Rotterdam and I thought it was important to tell stories from individuals in the Chinese society.”

In the Land of Brothers* by Iranian filmmakers Raha Amirfazlia and Alireza Ghasemi receives its European premiere at Karlovy Vary in Specials section. The film initially world-premiered at Sundance 2024 where it won the Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic.

Under the shadow of the US invasion, an extended Afghan refugee family begins their new lives in Iran unaware of the ultimate price expected of them as outliers in this (un)welcoming environment: Mohammad, a young teenager and promising student; Leila, a woman isolated by geography, and Qasem who bears the weight of his family’s sacrifice.

“The film is about an Afghan family living in Iran. Iran is the country closest to Afghanistan, but Afghan refugees face mistreatment there,” says Hoeve of the film’s core dilemma. “The directors filmed it secretly and were forced to live in exile afterwards.” BALDR Film oversaw the sound post-production in The Netherlands. Sales are handled by Alpha Violet.

BALDR Film is also minority co-producer on Payal Kapadia's Cannes Grand Prix winner All We Imagine as Light, described by Karlovy Vary programmers as “a cinematic ode to all those who have been caught in the gravitational force of Mumbai.” Sales on the film are handled by LUXBOX.

Find out more about KVIFF here.


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