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Producers to Watch: Bart van Langendonck, Oscar Nominated Bullhead

Producers to Watch: Bart van Langendonck, Oscar Nominated Bullhead

Bart is in town to pick up his Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film (he hopes!!).  Anyway he is nominated and garnering very good buzz.  Submitted by Belgium, his film Bullhead (ISA: Celluloid Dreams) was seen by us in Palm Springs last weekend at the PSIFF.  (Per Sydney:  The U.S. distributor is Drafthouse Films, which immediately puts a spin on this film for those who are “in the know”. See my blog on Tim League of Drafthouse,  speaker at 2012’s Art House Convergence.)

Bullhead (or in Flemish Rundskop, literally meaning Beefhead) is the extremely dark, violent tale of a Belgian crime activity which involves the drugging of food animals with illegal chemicals to make them heavier, bigger, grow faster, etc.

From the Belgian town of Leuven, Bart studied management in college and, in 1989, started working for a company managing music groups and a contemporary dance company led by choreographer/filmmaker Wim Vandekeybus. Now living in Brussels he became the manager of the company in 1994.  From the start, Wim Vandekeybus always integrated film in his choreographic or theatre performances and he also directed several cinematographic adaptations of his own stage performances.  ‘When Wim, in 2002, had the idea for a feature film, I teamed up to form a film production company, CCCP (as in ‘USSR’)’, says Bart. ‘This became my film school, I really learned a lot here. We made ‘Blush’, which was a fictional dance film that got Belgian and French distribution. 

In 2003 he met film director Michaël R. Roskam, and Bart became his producer. He produced two of Roskam’s short films: ‘Carlo’ (21 min) and ‘The one thing to do’ (24 min), leading to their feature film Bullhead. 

This story of the film was based on a real case, shocking to Europe at the time.  A cop was murdered 12 years ago and this led to an exposure of organized crime farm families in Belgium, the subject of this tough violent film. 

Bullhead was financed by money throughout Europe for a 2 million Euro budget. Almost ½ million Belgian people paid to see the film, about 10% of the total Flemish population.  This put the film into the top dozen film grossers in Belgian history.  The great Paris international sales company Celluloid Dreams is selling at the upcoming Berlinale / European Film Market.  At last year’s Berlinale the film premiered and was sold then to France, Germany and Holland.

Next Bart is planning a film with director Wim Vandekeybus from his own script, Galloping Mind, about 2 twins separated when small, who live apart and then meet again many years later. They will shoot in Durban, South Africa in Spring 2014. He also plans 2 more films with Bullhead director Michael, one of which The Faithful covers the gang milieu in Brussels in the 1980’s.

When we parted Bart smiled and said, “I’ll see you here next month when we pick up our Oscar”.  Good luck!!!

The winners of the 84th Academy Awards will be announced in Hollywood on 26 February.

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