Junk of the Heart is a short erotic psychological drama directed by the 24-year old Mieke Briers as her BA-graduation film for Sint Lukas School of Arts in Brussels and is now selected at the Festival in Vlaamse Fictie 1, the same series as Kristof Hoornaert’s Empire. Also, Brier’s film is in the running for the VAF Wildcard, which is a money fee rewarded to upcoming talent in the Belgian film industry. So this award could be the right push forward for young directors as Mieke.
Junk of the Heart is about the only 17-year old Elise (Martha Vandermeulen), and the sexual experiments and experiences she has with a much older friend of 28, called Felix (Sid Van Oerle). Junk of the Heart opens very action-driven -a bit in the style of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting (1996)-, you immediatly get overwhelmed by a sex-scene accompanied by a heavy soundtrack.
Mieke Briers attented her screening at the Short Film Festival and was very pleased to answer some of my questions about Junk of the Heart.
First of all Mieke, how did you come up with the idea to make an erotic film?
I first called my film a psychological drama, but I know that people expect melodramatic things to happen when you use such terms, and yes, Junk of the Heart is most definitely an erotic film. I was always fascinated with ‘boundaries, physical as well as emotional. And that is what the film is about, what are their boundaries?
How did you cast the actors? Where they friends of yours? Where they willing to do these kind of scenes from the very beginning?
No, at school people knew about my project, and one of my coaches introduced me to Martha (Vandermeulen), because she got casted once already and apparently she had this kind of hyperactivity and enthousiasm I needed for the part of Elise. Sid (Van Oerle) already performed in other projects and when I saw a video of him doing absurd things like imitating deers, I just knew he was the right guy for this part. They also didn’t mind doing the scenes, because the sex scenes are not explicite. I don’t think explicity is neccesary. Suggestivity can be so much more inticing, because you have to use your own imagination.
The use of a high-8 camera as an intermediate adds up to the multimediality of your film. Is that a plain technical choice or is there another explanation?
I do believe that the images you get by using a high-8 camera are more authentic, and make things appear more ‘close’ to you. They look more familiar. In that way, all the sexual adventures Felix and Elise put on tape are a way to make the audience aware of their voyeurism.
Your characters, Felix and Elise, do they actually really love each other, despite the fact that they have a deal? Or do you like to keep this open for the audience’s interpretation?
That is partly for the audience to decide, but referring back to the boundaries-issues, it is Elise who pushes it too far and tricks Felix into jealousy. Also the end is very open in that sense, that you can see on one of their tapes that their game goes on ‘until the end’, but when is the end exactly?
The soundtrack of the film, was it Belgian?
Yes, the band are friends of mine and called Piquet. The song is also Flemish. I chose to use their music, because it is rebellious and up-tempo, so very suitable for the film.
What is a good film to you? One with a strong narrative, or a film that is more aesthetic?
A film with a strong narrative that attracts the audience surely has more to offer, because it can be suggestive and non-suggetive at the same time. Of course, good camerawork is important, but making poetic films rather than a narrative one does not lie in my abition.
Talking about ambitions…Are you going to shoot more shorts, or do you have the ambition and dreams to shoot a feature film in the near future?
I would love to do a feature one day, but now I have to focus on my next short film, which will be my MA graduation film.
Thank you, Mieke, for the talk and fingers crossed!
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