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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

The Brand New Testament

by director/co-writer Jaco van Dormael

Making films is like dropping a message in a bottle in the sea: it is always a miracle when somebody finds it. As a filmmaker, it is great to know this film will be released in the United States at Landmark Theatres.
 
Filmmaking remains a mysterious process. Even though I know the techniques—scriptwriting, acting, lighting, lenses, editing—I have to wait for a fragile moment that feels beautiful. I don’t know why and how I feel the beauty, but it is that exact instant, an instant I cannot control, that I seek and cherish. It is like falling in love. You don’t know why you are in love, but you know you are in love. So when somebody else finds it beautiful too, it is a miracle.
 
The Brand New Testament is not a film about religion; it is about domination. It is about a dominance that can exist in religion, politics, families, and between men and women. The film is about the revolt against a God who writes laws you have to obey; otherwise there will be punishment. His 10-year-old daughter, Ea, has a different stance. She believes there should be no laws, there should be no punishment, and you should do what you want—you can invent a life that is not in the catalogue of lives.
 
I wanted The Brand New Testament to be a surreal tale, a comedy that mixes laughs, emotion and poetry. My co-writer Thomas Gunzig and I have always been amazed by the fact that in the Bible and specifically the New Testament, women’s voices are mostly kept silent. Instead, we imagined a God who lives in Brussels and has a wife and a 10-year-old daughter nobody ever wrote about. And his daughter is a rebel.
 
By releasing her father’s best guarded secret—the date of death of every human—Ea creates a beautiful chaos where everybody has to decide what they will do with the rest of their lives. They realize every minute is precious; every minute has to have a taste and a smell.
 
And what if God was a Goddess?