Interview with Guido Hendrikx on his Documentary nominee STRANGER IN PARADISE
Can you briefly describe what STRANGER IN PARADISE is about and how you got interested in this subject?
The film entails a reflection on the power dynamics between Europeans and migrants, against the background of what we’ve named the ‘refugee crisis’ in Europe. How the lucky ones are dealing with the desire for luck in others. More specifically, a reflection on the various guises Europe embodies in their approach to migrants. Those guises looked very different at first glance, but appeared to me as similar when I looked closer. That’s how I got interested in the subject. Ultimately, the film is about the collision of parallel universes. Europe. The world outside Europe. And the gated community of the film industry.
The film focusses on the situation of refugees in Europe with a very ambivalent main protagonist who is played by an actor. Why?
The film doesn’t focus on the situation of refugees in Europe, the film focuses on how Europe relates to refugees. Europe is ambivalent. Europe is embodied by an actor. So the actor is ambivalent. I chose to focus on Europe in this film, because I believe it is not a bad idea to first look at ourselves (European audience) before we try to represent the suffering of others. This means I strived to hold up a mirror for both the audience and myself as a filmmaker.
This is your first documentary feature film. What are the main differences for your previous work? And what was the biggest challenge in making this film?
Like my previous works I regard film as an ode to the complexity of life. I hold both life and the audience in high esteem, meaning that film should always be ambiguous (and never cynical towards the audience’s capacities, like propaganda) and through this challenge its audience to re-evaluate his or her position towards a certain reality projected on screen. My ambition in every film is to get one step closer to the truth while lying 25 frames per second.
How do you see the state of documentary cinema in Europe right now?
You’re asking me to describe a sea, which I can’t.
In recent years the borders between documentary and fiction have blurred. What do you think of this development and where do you see yourself?
I don’t regard documentary and fiction as separate genres, but as different styles. If you wish to blur documentary and fiction I believe one should be transparent about this.