D'Ardennen

The Netherlands, Belgium 2015

Synopsis

The brothers Dave and Kenneth are reunited on Kenneth’s release after four years in prison following a failed home jacking. While Kenneth is anxious to dive headfirst into the drug-centred existence that ensnared him in the first place, both Dave and Kenneth’s erstwhile girlfriend Sylvie have adopted clean lifestyles. Drugs, crime and the bonds of brotherhood create this dark crime thriller journey in THE ARDENNES.

Directors Statement

THE ARDENNES tells the story of a complex relationship between two brothers, protagonist Dave and his brother Kenneth, who both bear the scars of their shared past, but each dealing with it in their own way.

The story, which pays great attention to character development, unfolds like a crime thriller that reaches its climax in the Ardennes (in Wallonia, the French-speaking southern region of Belgium). I wanted to explore the theme of loyalty between brothers and friends, with a specific focus on the harsh environment of these individuals. This is also a recurring theme in my previous short films – characters who act according to standards and values that are different from what is considered normal and who live in a world where violence is the solution and drugs are invariably present. I always had a great affinity for people who live at the margins of society and who seek, consciously or not, extremes. Despite the dark source material, the story also has humorous moments, because humour is a part of life: how people nevertheless try to make things bearable by finding humour in all situations, even if it might be out of place.

The complicated love triangle between Dave, Sylvie and Kenneth is central to the plot. It is the main thrust of the story. None of the three characters are happy with where they are right now in their lives and, although it is easy to portray Kenneth as the 'bad guy' of the story, this is not what interests me as a filmmaker. I wanted to explore the grey areas between good and evil and to ask myself why people are the way they are and do what they do. After all, everyone is a cute baby at birth - a blank canvas. The answers to the questions of how Kenneth ends up in jail, whose corpse is in the trunk and why it is there, ensure that the characters are always seen in a different light by the viewer, and that is what I want to achieve.

The collaboration with Jeroen Perceval as co-screenwriter gives unique impetus to the script. The stage play on which the script is based has already proven itself and enjoyed much success. But this screen adaptation, also by Jeroen, has been translated in every way possible into the medium of film. While my short films have always contained a certain element of chaos and frenetic camera work, I wanted to take more time in this film to allow the characters and images to breathe, so to speak, in order to strike relentlessly in the third act, where I close in on the protagonists. From the third act onwards, we are in very dense pinewoods, characterised by a certain isolation and obscurity. Just as the Coen brothers and Tarantino often strike a balance between black humour, suspense and character development, I wanted to convey just as effectively the bleakness that British filmmakers portray so strikingly - an excellent example being Shane Meadows.
Jeroen is not only also the author of the film, he also plays one of the main characters. The nervousness with which he plays is perfect for the character of Dave.

What is also very important is that my three characters all speak the Antwerp dialect, to enhance the naturalness and credibility of the story. It promises to be a dark journey.

Biography

As a Belgian citizen of semi-Dutch heritage, Robin Pront is known for his straightforward and no-nonsense style. He rose to prominence with his first short film PLAN B, a short film about the drug scene in Antwerp and its effects on the main characters. The film won the award for best short at the Leuven FF in 2008, as well as the Public's Choice award. Having quickly made a name for himself, his next film, INJURY TIME, about football hooliganism starring BULLHEAD stars Matthias Schoenaerts and Jeroen Perceval, received high critical praise. INJURY TIME was his graduation film from the Sint-Lukas Academy in Brussels in 2010. It was selected for several national and international festivals and won prizes in Brussels and Ghent. THE ARDENNES is his first feature film.

Filmography:
2010 - INJURY TIME, short
2008 - PLAN B, short
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Cast & Crew

Directed by : Robin Pront

Written by : Jeroen Perceval

Produced by : Bart van Langendonck

Director of Photography : Robrecht Heyvaert

Editor : Alain Dessauvage

Production Design : Geert Paredis

Costume Design : Catherine Van Bree

Hair & Make up Artist : Barbara Bilejic

Composer : Hendrik Willemyns

Main Cast : Jeroen Perceval (Dave)

Nominations and Awards

  • EFA Selection 2016