Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, France
Charity and helpfulness are central themes in the film. What interests you about that?
It is a question that concerns me in general: what does doing good mean? And why do people do that? I also think a lot about what I can do in my daily life to improve something. Especially if you live in big cities as Brussels, you are often confronted with harshness on the street. That sometimes really gets into my head. I often worry about what I can do about it - and especially what I don't do. But strangely enough, that hardly translated into my films until now. In Holly, that issue crept organically into the story for the first time.
The character Anna, a teacher who also leads a voluntary organization, represents my conflicting feelings on that theme. She is a real do-gooder. On the one hand I admire people like that enormously, and on the other hand I also immediately feel the need to question that - because why do you actually want to do that? Does genuine altruism even exist? Moreover, people like Anna often adopt a rather pedantic attitude, as if they know better. That gray zone interests me. But to be clear: I have enormous respect for people who are socially engaged. And I prefer someone who only does the right thing so that they can sleep better at night than someone who just doesn't do anything at all.
"Holly" does not sound like "holy" by chance: more and more people start to believe that she has special powers. Did you want to play consciously with that religious dimension?
I didn't want to emphasize on religion too much, but it almost crept in naturally. I can imagine that the same mechanism was at play a long time ago when Jesus Christ was labeled the Messiah. Those are also questions that I ask myself: why do people believe something? And do they truly believe that, or is it just comfortable to go along with something like this at a difficult moment?
Is there anything of yourself in Holly?
Yes, like her, I am very receptive to other people's emotions. Sometimes that’s a bit annoying, because when I enter a place, I immediately know who is sad, and then I almost feel obliged to talk to that person. I have to consciously arm myself against that, because I absorb a lot of the sadness of the world. On the other hand, it has always helped me with my films: it allows me to easily get into the mind of my characters.
Holly is in line with your previous films, but also feels different due to the presence of a supernatural element (true or not). Did you consciously want to take a new direction?
I did not obsessively look for that, but especially since I wanted to break away from Home, it felt nice to find an element that really made Holly different. At the same time, I quickly found that I didn't want to go too far in that supernatural aspect. Because then it wouldnt feel like my kind of film anymore. I wanted the story to stay grounded, and to always have that doubt: is there something supernatural going on or not?
You collaborated with Close DOP Frank van Den Eeden. Can you talk about your work together?
I shot all my previous feature films with Frank. From my first film there was an instant click, both artistically and amicably, and that has never left. Our collaboration is so natural that I can't imagine making a film with someone else. With every film he wants me to know how I see it first and then he starts thinking along. And that is really fundamental to me. He doesn't say how he thinks it should be, I have to determine it and only then does he dive in and make something improbable out of it. He crawls completely into the world you have created and then looks for what visually best tells the story, without ego. He is incredibly generous and is only satisfied when I am satisfied.
Another familiar name is the American musician Johnny Jewel, known from Chromatics. He also provided the soundtrack for Home. How did your collaboration go this time?
For Home he had given us existing music, but with Holly he got involved in the script phase. He quickly sensed the direction I wanted to go. There is something disturbing in his music, reminiscent of old horror movies. But also, something very sweet, that sounds a bit distorted. Moreover, Johnny trusted us to the extent that we were allowed to rework his music as we saw fit. He delivered some songs to us like a kind of building blocks: if we wanted, we could take them apart and build something else with them in the assembly
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Fien Troch
Written by: Fien Troch
Produced by: Elisa Heene, Antonino Lombardo, Donato Rotunno, Frans Van Gestel, Laurette Schillings, Arnold Heslenfeld, Anita Voorham, Juliette Schrameck
Cinematography: Frank Van den Eede
Editing: Nico Leunen
Production Design: Natalia Treviño, Sanne Rubbrecht
Costume Design: Sophie Van Den Keybus
Make-Up & Hair: Véronique Dubray
Original Score: Johnny Jewel
Sound: Taco Drijfhout, Tijn Hazen, Michel Schöpping
Visual Effects: Raoul Nadalet
Casting: Magali Coremans
Cast: Cathalina Geeraerts (Holly)
Nominations and Awards
- Feature Film Selection 2023