Home FEATURED Gutland: An Interview with Luxembourgish Director Govinda Van Maele

Gutland: An Interview with Luxembourgish Director Govinda Van Maele

by A. Esposito

City Savvy writer, Alessandro Esposito sat down with director Govinda Van Maele to give us a glimpse into his new movie Gutland which premieres (with English subtitles) May 2nd at Kineapolis Kirchberg. Click here to enter to win 2 tickets!

“Horror vacui” is a postulate attributed to Aristotle, and it is commonly translated into “Nature abhors a vacuum”: in other words, nature in its essence does not allow emptiness. This is also the idea that can germinate in the viewer’s mind after watching “Gutland”, the new movie by Govinda Van Maele:  a story about Luxembourg and its eponymous Gutland region, covering 68% of the Country’s territory and, more importantly, offering home to the vast majority of its population. A population that, according to Mr. Van Maele – a Luxembourg-born movie writer, producer and director, is not always remarkable in its transparency and openness to the outer world:

“We all tacitly agreed to keep certain things quiet – explains Mr. Van Maele – and we always make sure Luxembourg is perceived as an European utopia while, in fact, we do have a series of dark events that never make the news while they should, instead”.

“Gutland” is the story of  a possibly perfect community that seem to hide a little secret; a small town and the actions that are taken to protect its integrity, especially when a stranger fugitive tries to hide among them. “This is an anachronistic story about a Luxembourg community as it would have appeared 20 or 30 years ago – continues Mr. Van Maele – and the way it chooses to stay together after its original composition, and hidden truths, are possibly put at risk by the arrival of a new component from the outside world”.

The script takes these concepts and magisterially develops them into a visually potent movie that uses a wide pallet of colours and mixes different genres, from thriller to American and European art-house movies, with clear tributes to David Lynch and Alfred Hitchcock, turning the story into very physical acting that has not spared the crew with fatigue and challenges. “We had some tension on set – laughs Mr. Van Maele – but the entire crew is made of people we have been making movies with since we were kids, because what I am wary of through the movie is, on the other hand, also the true beauty of Luxembourg: it is an undeniably small community with plenty of potential and resources, and we all grow up surrounded with possibilities and people who contribute to our intellectual growth and in many cases end up becoming our friends”.

And what friends Mr. Van Maele has made, if he can count among them (and as part of the crew of his movie) the protagonist Frederick Lau (his performance is just remarkable) and Vicky Krieps, the ambassador of Luxembourg’s movie industry worldwide after her performance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Phantom Thread”, opposite Daniel Day-Lewis: “Some experiences may change you – says Mr. Van Maele about Ms. Krieps – but she has always remained very close to us as friends and our production, and she has been with us at the Belgian premiere of the movie despite her contemporary Hollywood engagements”.

Greatly received at the Toronto International Film Festival and already presented in Tokyo, Cairo, South Korea, and awarded in France and Italy, “Gutland” is a great example of the new Luxembourg movie wave that is making our community known to the world and helping so much talent come to light; absolutely worth watching. 

Director Govinda Van Maele with City Savvy writer Alessandro Esposito

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