Miel-Emile tells the story of the son of a Flemish family with many children who, after World War II, will live in the Pyrenees in the South of France, to embrace paradise. The dictatorial, religious father has bought a mountain there. Via a monologue intérieur by Miel, almost eighty-year-old, one of the sons, we hear the consequences of that adventure and at the same time we get a glimpse into his private life today. The letters from Miel’s mother tell us something else. The romantic idea of life there is shattered by her words.
Miel-Emile had its world premiere on 27 January 2019 at the International Film Festival Rotterdam. You can find the confirmed screenings at the News sections.
IFFR Signatures interviewed Peter van Houten:
“Poetic, patient and loving film essay about Emile, who is almost 80 years old, and looks back on a wondrous youth in the French Pyrenees.”
After WWII, Dutch artist Pierre Raaijmakers bought a house in the French Pyrenees, and went to live in it with his Flemish wife. They had twelve children; Peter van Houten made the film La vie de Jean-Marie, an audience favourite at IFFR in 2015, about their eldest son. Having spent six years following Jean-Marie, Van Houten turned his camera on his brother, Emile. He too still lives in the shadow of the Cabrils mountain. Emile, also known as Miel, was perhaps of all the children the one who suffered most because of their dictatorial father. In his unique, extremely patient and loving way, Van Houten allows the philosophical, almost 80-year-old Emile to tell his story. Emile knows one thing for sure: without his mother, his youth would have been hell on earth. His mother’s letters, read out in the film by a granddaughter, give an insight into a horribly poor, emotionally cold existence.
Screendaily.com interviewed Peter van Houten about his last film: “I’ve known the family for 25 years, so we’re very close. After 10 years of following Emile, one day he grabbed me by the throat and said “you have to make this movie!” La Vie De Jean-Marie had already screened here, but in the mountain of footage I had during all those years I was not able to find any key. Then 3 years ago Emile told me about his mother’s secret letters. It was the key for my film, because it was the opposite voice of the story Emile was telling us”. You can read the complete interview here.
Ledjaar van Houten, Writer
The film depicts not just a life with chronological and specific events, but also a field tof forces that plays through Miel’s life. Some of these forces are: the father (beauty, authority, threat, power), the other (current, absence of ego, sadness), Miel (dark, breath, smoke, fire, finite, flowers, cold, earth, rain, light, inside, outside, play, participate, withdrawn, wind, space, winter). Read the full text here.
Director Peter van Houten Camera and editing Peter van Houten Sound post production Rut Uijtendaal Production AnnaZharkovFilm Co-Post Production De Productie and AnnaZharkovFilm Distribution MOOOV The Netherlands Associate producer Claudia Landsberger Cast Emile Raaijmakers / Rilke Raaijmakers Color Black & White Length 145 min. Language Flemish, French Subtitles Dutch, French, English Financed By AnnaZharkovFilm / Nederlands Filmfonds The Netherlands ©AnnaZharkovFilm 2019 www.annazharkovfilm.com. Music Anne Sofie von Otter / The Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Claudio Abbado, ‘Nacht und Träume’ / Schubert. D.827 Orchestrated by Max Reger Music ‘Je bent niet alleen’ (Oink beest) Elly Zuiderveld-Niemand, Rik Zuiderveld / Small Stone Media.