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Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers #56: 'The Broken Circle Breakdown' Chronicles Illness, Loss and Bluegrass Music

By Indiewire | Indiewire April 17, 2013 at 5:14PM

Belgian filmmaker Felix van Groeningen follows his first foray into international attention (his last film debuted at Cannes in 2009) with a story about illness, loss, and bluegrass music.
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Felix van Groeningen
Felix van Groeningen
Belgian filmmaker Felix van Groeningen follows his first foray into international attention (his last film debuted at Cannes in 2009) with a story about illness, loss, and bluegrass music.

What it's about:
"The Broken Circle Breakdown" tells the incredible moving love-story of banjo-player Didier and tattoo-artist Elise. It is love at first sight, in spite of major differences. Their happiness is complete after their little girl Maybelle is born. Unfortunately, Maybelle, at six years old, becomes seriously ill. Didier and Elise respond in very different ways. But Maybelle does not leave them any choice. Didier and Elise will have to fight for her together. Will you get through something like that if you are so different? Or will love let you down if you need it most?

About the filmmaker: I'm a 35 year old Belgian filmmaker. "The Broken Circle Breakdown" is my 4th feature film. My previous feature was called "The Misfortunates" and came out in 2009, and was my first film to capture international attention when it premiered in Cannes.

I've been working with Dirk Impens, the producer of my films, since 2003. In fact, most of my close crew members are long time collaborators, and I'm extremely happy about that. Although I see my self as a arthouse filmmaker, last two films have been major boxoffice successes at home. I always co-write on the screenplay. I've written original stories and have adapted a book aswell as a theatre play. I really love every step of the filmmaking process, allthough I find writing the hardest.

What was your biggest challenge? I guess bringing everything together. This film contains very different styles, big emotions, bluegrass music, different timelines... So, at some point I was really doubting if all that was gonna 'glue' together somehow. but in the end I'm extremely happy, as it combines a lot of stuff that I had been working with on previous films, and which really makes sense in "The Broken Circle Breakdown"

What would you like Tribeca audiences to come away with after seeing your film? That's up to them. But please: come and tell me afterwards!

Did any specific films inspire you? I have to say that I'm less and less inspired by other films. But let's not be too pretentious: of course the DOP and me watched some other movies very closely and stole some things stylewise: amongst them "Walk The Line" and "Magnolia."

"The Broken Circle Breakdown"
Tribeca "The Broken Circle Breakdown"

What do you have in the works? I'm writing an original story which talks about nightlife in my hometown, and I'm adapting an English language novel.

Where did you learn how to make films? I went to the KASK filmschool in Gent, Belgium. It was a pretty crappy school, but I had some great, great teachers. It's also the place where I met Dirk Impens, my long lasting producing friend. While in film school I also made a theatre play with some friends, and with a bunch of teenager non-actors. The play performed for over 3 years and we toured all over Europe. I feel I learned how to "direct," how to really "work" with people during that time. I feel that a lot of the people I worked with, were and are still mentors.

Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they're doing next. We'll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013 festival.



Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on April 17 for the latest profiles.

This article is related to: Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers, Tribeca Film Festival






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