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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

Loving Vincent

by co-writer/co-director Hugh Welchman

“One day I would like to show by work what this nobody, this non-entity has in his heart.”—Vincent van Gogh

My journey with Vincent started 9 years ago when I met my wife, Dorota Kobiela. She was a painter who’d been working a lot in the animation and film industry in Poland. When I met her she had developed a short film about Vincent van Gogh, which she wanted to make in oil-painting stop motion animation, and she was intending to paint the entire film herself.

Then she met me, we fell in love, and I changed her course, as she worked for two years on the project I was struggling with at the time. After that she went back to Loving Vincent. And I went with her.

Firstly, because of the tests she was doing, I’d never seen anything quite like them in 10 years of film-making. The second reason I fell for this project was the story of Vincent himself. All I had known before was that he was some kind of mad tortured artist whose paintings were colourful and sold for lots of money. When I discovered the real story about Vincent I was blown away. Yes he was tortured, but no, he wasn’t mad. He did suffer from depression, and he had bouts of mental illness in the years immediately before his death, but he was also one of the most articulate, passionate, sensitive and strong people I’ve ever read about from history.

Vincent’s story seemed too big to be contained in a short film, so we let Loving Vincent expand to feature length.

Vincent failed at four other professions before he turned to art. By his late twenties his family had pretty much written him off as a hopeless case, his love life was a string of humiliations, and he felt of no use to the world. He’d dabbled in drawing since childhood, but there was no indication that he had any special talent for art. Starting at 27, through sheer force of will, hard work, passion and love of what was around him, Vincent transformed himself in the space of 9 years into a great artist, and changed art forever. And 125 years later he changed me forever. Television, books, music and most of all film were staples of my existence from childhood. I love stories. I imbibe them, I tell them. What I needed to make me realise that art can also be a powerful part of life, is to know the story that went hand in glove with that art. Loving Vincent expresses my passion for Vincent; it expresses my passion for his paintings, it expresses my passion for film; but above all it expresses my passion for great stories.