Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth: “Cinema is so sacred to us that we only shoot what we believe in”

‘King of the Belgians’ has been the official title of 56-year-old Belgian monarch, King Filip, for the past three years, but now it also refers to a lighthearted, delightful, and at the same time, an innovative film made by Belgian-American’s all-round screenwriting-directing-producing duo Peter Brosens (b. 1962) and Jessica Woodworth (b. 1971). After their earlier features “Khadak” (2006, shot in Mongolia), “Altiplano” (2009, Peru) and “La cinquième saison” (2012, a.k.a. “The Fifth Season,” shot in Belgium)—brave and courageous films, ingeniously made, but at the time restricted to the art house circuit—”King of the Belgians” is a wonderful change of pace about a fictional Belgian king, played by Flemish actor Peter Van den Begin, on a state visit to Istanbul, Turkey, just when Wallonia, the French-speaking part of his country, declares independence.

The film covers his attempt to return to his home country, accompanied by his entourage with the head of protocol, his personal valet, press attaché, and a documentary maker who captures everything on camera. In “King of the Belgians,” labeled as a mockumentary about the royal road trip, they’re all forced to drive across the Balkans to Western Europe after a storm temporarily interrupted all air travel and cut off any form of telecommunication.

The Belgian King and his entourage: Lucie Debay as his press attaché, the head of protocol, Bruno Georis; Peter Van den Begin, who plays the King; and Titus De Voogdt, as his valet

Mr. Brosens, previously a very productive documentary maker, and Ms. Woodworth, also a documentary maker with degrees from the Princeton and Stanford Universities, were praised with their latest screen effort, which got rave reviews after the film’s successful and heartwarming world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, early September. With only a few films to their credit, and highly regarded as multiple award winners at various film festivals worldwide, they are being hailed once again for “King of the Belgians” with a tour-de-force kind of storytelling of their own, described by Variety as ‘an enormously appealing mockumentary,’ a review which pretty much set the tone and paved the way for other international reviewers to speak as enthusiastically and use similar superlatives about “King of the Belgians.”

I met Mr. Brosens and Ms. Woodworth in Ghent, Belgium, to talk about their work and their craft as multitasking filmmakers. As it turns out, they’re both destined to make much more great films—together. A conversation with two inspiring filmmakers with a great sense of humor.

“King of the Belgians” is not a regular feature; it is a road movie/mockumentary. How do you work on the set with a concept like this?

[Jessica Woodworth] When we’re on the set on each of our films, we understand what’s required and what the essential nature is of each shot and each scene. It always creates new dynamics, new chemistry, a really intense concentration, and creation on the set with everyone. We never storyboard; occasionally, on the back of a beer card, we will write where the camera begins the travelling and where the travel might end. But we think storyboards might be very restricting.
[Peter Brosens] “King of the Belgians” is a mockumentary, so it’s supposedly one guy with one camera and one microphone who shoots the film. That’s a limitation, but we like that; it reminds us of our old documentary days. We also shot the film chronologically, the first scene we shot on the first day in Belgium, then we went to Istanbul and finally to Bulgaria. Most of the crew wasn’t in Belgium when we shot here; they were all in Turkey or Bulgaria, except for the make-up artists. So we had temporary people for those functions, but they wouldn’t travel with us to the Balkans for the rest of the shoot. It was quite difficult to get the crew started, which is normal for every shoot: you bring people together from all over the place, they don’t know each other, it was like a handicapped or a reduced crew, because our partners in Bulgaria were waiting for us over there.
[Jessica Woodworth] Everybody was a little nervous, the actors too.

The poster of “King of the Belgians”

You seem to be working without a real, concrete plan. How do you manage to do that? You must undoubtedly be very flexible?

[Jessica Woodworth] We’ve been making four feature films in ten years now: we’ve learned that our intuition is so strong that it overrides any plan we ever had.
[Peter Brosens] You know, when you work in a studio, you control all the parameters. But from our base as documentary makers and with the films we previously shot in Mongolia, Peru, and Belgium, we worked on location, and that could be sometimes hard and challenging, like in Peru at 5,000 meters high, or in Mongolia with temperatures sometimes as cold as minus 38 degrees centigrade. A lot of things happen then that you can’t control, like in a Mongolian coal mine; that’s completely the opposite of working in a studio. So you need to adjust, and often, reality offers you more than you could have imagined. Like the balls of the Brussels Atomium being cleaned while we were shooting there, which we didn’t suspect to happen, it gave an extra dimension, you know, to the image of the king being polished, and these balls are a symbol of Belgium being cleaned. They add a certain value.
[Jessica Woodworth] It’s very self-evident when something has potential to both of us very quickly, which comes from our days of shooting documentaries and often trusting that nature can give us a lot. Even inexperienced actors sometimes can have the same potential, compared to those who have twenty years of craft behind them—they do. The pressure doesn’t destabilize that, and as a result, all of our teams have actually been relaxed and peaceful. We don’t have a set with a strict hierarchy, and people appreciate that.
[Peter Brosens] Well, we haven’t been on another set, let’s put it that way. First, we made documentaries, and then we shot “Khadak” [2006] in Mongolia. When people are shooting in Belgium, in Antwerp for example, they commute in the morning to the set, just like people go to the office. Our circumstances are very different: we almost lived together for two months in Mongolia—often on the set as well. So it’s a whole other dynamic than with a crew that commutes like anyone else.
[Jessica Woodworth] It’s like a family we build with each film, and each film is unique and extraordinary for our team members. When we were shooting “Khadak,” our members were a little bit alarmed by the working methods that we were discovering day by day as we entered into the shoot, and they were concerned we wouldn’t have any material to edit until they realized that we were editing in our minds while shooting. In the beginning, they thought we would get ourselves into trouble until the first rushes came back from a lab in Germany. They arrived about two weeks after we started shooting, so we all gathered around, looked at them, and from that moment on, they understood and recognized what we were doing. It was very brave, very audacious, and they all were on board. From then on, there was this collective sentiment that we were creating something very special, very unique. The Mongolians felt it as well. It was an extraordinary moment; it helped us for our following films: people got enthusiastic and committed to standing behind us and supporting in what we were trying to do.
[Peter Brosens] Now we’re all shooting digital, so you instantly see what you’re doing, but that film was shot on 35mm. By the time we received the rushes of “Khadak,” we were already a few weeks further. There was no way for us to reshoot anything, with all the animals, the military trucks, the local extras, the access to trains—everything was a one in a million chance.

Stuck in the Balkans: Bruno Georis, Lucie Debay, Titus De Voogdt, Peter Van den Begin

With the location shooting you do, sometimes in remote areas, is it difficult to hold on to your shooting schedule?

[Peter Brosens] You know, the average amount of shooting days for a Flemish feature film is thirty-three days. For “King of the Belgians,” we had budgeted it at twenty-eight days while we shot the whole film in nineteen days—actually twenty days if you want, one of the shooting days is not in the film because we then had shot another ending which we ultimately didn’t use. So with our twenty days, we canceled a quarter of the shooting schedule because it wasn’t necessary. Usually, it’s the other way around; people go over their shooting schedule.
[Jessica Woodworth] We came home early from Mongolia, also from Peru, we finished three days earlier in “The Fifth Season,” and we came home a week early from “King of the Belgians.” Nobody wanted to go home—ever [laughs]. But cinema is so sacred to us that we only shoot what we believe in. We’re always looking for the essence, even in our script phase. That’s why our scripts are skinny—minimalist—purging everything that is not one hundred percent necessary. We do that in the script phase quite brutally, then on the set, and in our minds, we are already anticipating the editing.

How did you cast Peter Van den Begin as the king, and do you have a specific working method on the set once the camera starts rolling?

[Jessica Woodworth] Every single role has its own set of needs. If you speak specifically of “King of the Belgians,” Peter Van den Begin was already our king in 2012. On the set of “The Fifth Season,” when he only had two days of shooting, running around after the rooster [laughs] and watching him interact with the rooster—strangely—he was our king. We weren’t necessarily looking for a Flemish actor; it was just him. He incarnates something in his voice, in his manner; he’s complex, mysterious, he’s old, he’s young. We saw his great potential immediately. We asked him that day at lunch, ‘Would you like to play the king in “King of the Belgians?”‘ [Laughs.] We had our script already and had started working on it the year before, although with a different approach than what you see now. It was more like a fairy tale. So he was there very early. And to get back to your question about the working method, it depends really on the actors. Some actors need you to provide them with some guidance, while others don’t. You have to get a sense of what their strengths and weaknesses are. The best way to do that is by doing improvisations with the ensemble as often as possible, also as early as possible in the process, and then observe them: see how their intuition functions, get used to their voice, their body language, and their manners. If you observe the improvisations very carefully, you learn an awful lot about who they are as people and what their skill sets are as actors. Every single one of them has different needs, so you have to communicate in a very specific way with each one and at the right moment. Sometimes they’re more open and more vulnerable, and if they are too vulnerable, it’s best to let things rest. This helps us as we’re working with so many different languages, also to give texture to scenes, nuance, and subtext. Depending on the language, actors use their voice differently, the humor translates differently into another language, so you need to be equipped with all this knowledge during the improvisation process in order to confidently build actual scenes later in the process—sometimes really late in the process. The actors sometimes get their dialogue in the morning on the way to the set. It keeps them on edge and seriously focused, which is good. If you give some actors too many lines too early, they begin to focus too much on the words and not what’s left unspoken, so the unspoken bits are not handled and considered as much as the words. Then they hang on to the words, to their props—it’s like a lifeline, with the actions they’re instructed to perform. These things are all results of something else, an intention, and the emotional landscape of the actors. We nurture the emotional landscape of the actors to the maximum, and very late—as late as possible—we give this life vest: here is your line, here is your action, and here is the one prop you get [laughs]. And often, we would take those away, and they’d feel a little naked, but it also reveals some truthful moments, very sincere, authentic emotions that are really on the edge of the cliff. So we like holding on to this freshness, especially for “King of the Belgians,” where there’s a lot of things when they’re improvising—they are well-prepared improvisations. Like with the Serbian sniper [played by Goran Radakovic]; his role and character were discussed at length. He is a real Serbian actor who has done so many films. Still, it took a long time to convince him that we were fully aware we were handling delicate stereotypes; once we won his confidence—which took a long time—he turned out to be an actor who wanted to know everything about the back story of his character, and build it together. This is a huge investment, and arriving on the set, he was ready and equipped, but we hadn’t given him his lines. So, in the film, he’s interviewed by Duncan Lloyd [played by Pieter van der Houwen], who had been given his lines, while Goran didn’t get his. But we had an assumption of where it could go and where it might end up. And we got about twelve, thirteen minutes of him revealing the most extraordinary things about his personal tragedy, the Balkans, the tragedy of the Balkans, so spontaneous; we decided to keep the entire interview in the film. But in the end, you have to honor the rhythm, and we had it cut shorter. This is a very typical example of working in a very particular way, maybe a non-traditional way of preparing an actor, but the result can be extraordinary. In that case, you get a very touching and powerful result from a scene that wasn’t scripted but very well prepared on a deeper level.

Directors Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth having fun on the set

What about the difference between working with experienced actors and non-professionals?

[Jessica Woodworth] Experienced actors usually don’t rely on one method or one approach. Olivier Gourmet said something interesting when he arrived on the set in Peru as he was confronted with performers who had never acted before in their life. He was the first one to say, ‘How much experience you have has nothing to do with the quality of what you may bring to the screen. It depends on so many other things.’ He came in as a superstar, and with this attitude, he set everyone at ease immediately. He believed what he said, and it was such a fierce collaboration, you know. If everybody trusts one another and no egos are crashing into each other, if no one is trying to steal the limelight, things can be really fruitful and amazing. Every day is a surprise because actors always surprise us. We’re very much in tune with how they feel on the philosophical level of the film, to talk about what we hope is relevant, valuable, beautiful, and memorable. That’s our wish. It’s such a privilege to sit around with them and talk about ideas—we chat a lot [laughs].

When you’re shooting, do you often need several takes? Because, take, for example, the bus ride in “King of the Belgians,” or when they’re on the boat, it certainly has its restrictions?

[Peter Brosens] With the bus scenes, you need to have some continuity with the landscape in the background, and when you drive for a while, the landscape starts changing. Often we just drove back, actually, we were making loops basically to maintain the continuity with the environment. But usually, our shooting ratio is not so high, although certain scenes require many takes; we don’t work like some directors who need an extreme amount of takes to get the actors in a different state of mind. We work in plan sequence—there are so many elements, not just the performance of the actors, both physically and the language, and the delivery of their lines.

Between takes on the set of “King of the Belgians”: director Jessica Woodworth, Titus De Voogdt, Peter Van den Begin, Lucie Debay

Did you in the early stages of this project need any approval from the Belgian monarchy?

[Peter Brosens] No, we had two lawyers who checked the script, but like Variety wrote in its review, there’s nothing offensive to anyone; they said ‘the real king could find it delightful.’ We had invited them to the world premiere in Venice, the Belgian premiere in Ghent, the Bozar premiere in Brussels—you can’t get much closer to the royal palace than that—but we didn’t hear from them.
[Jessica Woodworth] We didn’t make the film with them, for them or against them, and we didn’t do any research, because our king is a fictional character, not a persiflage or anything. So it’s not relevant to us, because we made the film for an audience. However, we’re representing Belgium all over the world now, with a film called “King of the Belgians” [laughs]. But we’re not so busy with the monarchy; we never looked at it carefully in the past and probably never will in the future.
[Peter Brosens] It’s just a story, and very often, the building stones of our films come from reality. Before we shot “The Fifth Season,” there was the eruption of this Icelandic volcano [Eyjafjallajökull in 2010], and there’s also referred to it in the film. Many people were also stuck in Istanbul, and one of the people there—it was a cover story of the New York Times—was the president of Estonia, Toomas Ilves. He was there on a two-day visit, couldn’t fly back, but for some reason, he really had to return to Tallinn [Estonia’s capital], so they bought a minibus, and against all rules of the protocol, they drove back home, through the Balkans, through Eastern Europe. Instead of taking a plane, they had to drive through all those countries. It was a great premise for a film.
[Jessica Woodworth] A premise has charm, nostalgia, realism and potential.
[Peter Brosens] When you have to go on a journey like this with people that you only know professionally, it changes them dramatically. This man was a president, and a president is someone who chooses to be a president, while a king, our main character, didn’t have the choice to be a king, and then, out of the blue, he becomes a part of this unexpected journey. He’s unprepared and finds himself in unforeseen circumstances, which is new to him because everything is always taken care of for him. And so this physical journey through the Balkans is also an inner journey for him, which makes it more interesting. We were not interested in ridiculing a king; the vulnerability of a character is much more interesting than ridiculing it.

Dutch actor Pieter van der Houwen playing documentary maker Duncan Lloyd | Bas Bogaerts

Would you consider the character of Duncan Lloyd, the documentary maker in the film, a sort of extension of yourself?

[Peter Brosens] Absolutely, although he has his inner logic and his raison d’être. Sometimes, if we were lost, we’d ask ourselves, ‘What would Duncan say or do? How cynical would he be?’ It was fun having this third party, a creation of our own that we could listen to, in a sense, like a fictional third director sitting among us. Better ask Duncan, or if someone doesn’t like it, Blame Duncan [laughs].

Is it true that you dubbed the voice of Dutch-born actor Pieter van der Houwen who plays Duncan Lloyd?

[Jessica Woodworth] Yes, his voice is dubbed by a Scottish guy who is a theater actor and voice-over artist, and for the character of Duncan Lloyd we needed an authentic accent in the intonations. The voice, as you now hear it, was much more suitable for the story, and it was a real learning curve for us handling this voice and integrating it. It is so subtle; the tiniest change in intonation usually resonates inside a scene—a little too reserved, a little too arrogant—directing only a voice; this was the first time we did that, and it was an amazing process. It took an eternity to get the right tone or the right tempo in each line, and when you edit certain lines, the breathing could be different; so it doesn’t feel exactly natural. A very interesting process in the architecture and the timbre of the voice, but very difficult. It all looks so simple, so natural, and it’s not.

Taking a break while shooting “King of the Belgians” on location: director Jessica Woodworth, and actors Peter Van den Begin, Lucie Debay, and Titus De Voogdt

Could this film be considered as a career switch?

[Peter Brosens] I know it looks like that, people perceive it like this, and maybe that was also the reason why it was so hard to get it financed. Not because they didn’t like it, but they thought we’d better stick to the kind of films we did before. Our three previous films are like a trilogy, a little oeuvre. The risk was there that we would repeat ourselves, but this is just a switch of tone, from tragic absurd to comic absurd. That’s two parts of one coin, really.
[Jessica Woodworth] And there’s no way these two can be funny! No way! That was what they thought.
[Peter Brosens] Humor is a very delicate matter.
[Jessica Woodworth] You don’t know if you have a comedy until the public sees it. Until September 3, sitting in Venice [Venice Film Festival] with 1,400 people, we had no clue if we had a film that was going to make people laugh. We just had no idea. We laughed, and fortunately, we weren’t the only ones. We were more than surprised: we were shocked and overwhelmed. If you got 1,400 people responding so well to the film, it felt like a collective tsunami of emotions, laughter, and applause.
[Peter Brosens] The first applause, exactly on mid-point, was like thunder. They all applauded there; there were two more during the film, and all this laughter… Then we took the film to the Hamburg Film Festival, Peter [Van den Begin] was there, and he said it was fantastic. Then I went to the Valladolid International Film Festival in Spain and to Sao Paolo; simply put, it was amazing. The film is sold now from Japan to Russia, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Slovakia, more than twenty countries up until now. It’s really catching on. Turkey was the first country to buy “King of the Belgians.”
[Jessica Woodworth] We’re very pleased with this result because the film as a product is difficult to categorize, and humor is so delicate. It doesn’t always transcend borders; some comedies are local and stay in their territory, while “King of the Belgians” obviously does transcend the borders. We had to think very carefully because is it for a Belgian audience or not? Obviously not because this is a Belgian-Dutch-Bulgarian co-production, these countries all contributed to the film, so we are very sensitive to those audiences, but how much information did we have to give about the complexities of Belgian politics? It had to be an absolute efficient minimum in the beginning, for the viewer to relax and just go with the flow. Accompanied by Duncan, you can move through the story without asking yourself questions about the mechanics of Belgian politics with Flanders and Wallonia. So we had to equip the viewer with a little bit of voice-over and this ensemble of characters that appears one after the other. The nature of the film, a mockumentary, one man, one small camera—it all sounds so very simple, but it was so hard to do that. It took us six months to write the voice-over. How much, what, where, how much cynicism, how dry, you’re constantly reminding the viewer, ‘I’m here, don’t forget that I’m here, you’re watching through my eyes.’ Duncan allows you to ease into his perspective; it’s a more joyous, more concrete, more specific journey that you’re witnessing through the eyes of Duncan Lloyd, through his sensitivity and sensibility.
[Peter Brosens] He also catalyzes because he’s the outer circle, while the other characters are the inner circle. He’s between the characters and us. He plays the outsider, the British guy, the filmmaker who becomes a part of this journey but who’s not welcomed by some of the others.
[Jessica Woodworth] So the relationships with the camera has Duncan constantly involving; that was very exciting for us to explore, to actually look into the lens which is so rare, but it’s such a pleasure.
[Peter Brosens] And it’s in his interest that the journey would last as long as possible because as soon as the situation is solved, his job is over, and he gets kicked out.

Peter Van den Begin as the King of the Belgians, trying to find his way out of the Balkans, and go back home

How about your casting in general? How do you approach that?

[Jessica Woodworth] It’s funny because you know immediately if someone is capable of filling up a role. We never look for a type, ever. No typecasting, nor age, nor height, weight, looks—anything. The continuity in our characters is a certain soulfulness with very expressive eyes, but we’ve never told casting agents or casting assistants that we’re looking for a gorgeous 25-year-old blonde [laughs]. For example, the blind sculptor in “Altiplano” was a former soldier who lost his sight twenty years earlier, and he never acted in his life. So he was cast, but it could have been any person. We only knew he had to be male and blind. No way would we have taken someone who plays blind, so that was it: he had to be male and blind. It could have been a 22-year-old or a 95-year-old. And before we cast Aurélia Poirier for the part of Alice in “The Fifth Season,” we saw hundreds of girls, meeting them, videotaping them. I remember we were casting in Geneva, and when she walked in the room, I was so relieved: within thirty seconds, I knew she was right for the part.

How do you look back now to the funding, writing the screenplay, the pre-production, the filming process, and the post-production of “King of the Belgians”?

[Jessica Woodworth] Well, in the end, it worked out well, but when we were funding the film, we got turned down quite a lot. Rejection is part of the job. Our films are pretty unpredictable [laughs], but we don’t despair: we don’t make a film in a hurry anyway. It’s better to work ten years on one fine film than make three mediocre films or make films that leave people indifferent. That would be a tragedy, so it’s better to take your time. We’re forced to because of the mechanics and the financing, but it doesn’t bother us because we’re used to it. We’re not in a position to complain, though: in ten years, we’ve made four fiction features, so we feel very fortunate.

Have you ever thought of casting a star in your films, who could promote it worldwide?

[Jessica Woodworth] We thought Winona Ryder would be very interesting for “Altiplano” to play the war photographer. We tried to reach her, but we couldn’t, and we would never have been able to afford her with our production structure. We tried to get Ray Winstone to play Duncan Lloyd through his agents, but that was just impossible. ‘How much money do you have?’ they asked. Since this was a modest film, it didn’t work out. There are a couple of people who don’t interest us at all, even though they’re well-known and appreciated, but there are others… Take Charlotte Rampling; what a joy would that be! What a pleasure it would be to work with her! We would love to cast her, you know. For me, she’s in this small pool of actors that we would be thrilled to work with. Or Eva Green, she’s also a very interesting actress. She’s smashingly talented.

“Archipelago,” the working title of the upcoming follow-up to “King of the Belgians,” also to be directed by Peter Brosens and Jessica Woodworth, with the same actors in their principal roles (Peter Van den Begin, Lucie Debay, Titus De Voogdt, and Bruno Georis)

Who knows, maybe in your next film? Are you working on your next project already?

[Peter Brosens] Absolutely. The king is not home yet [laughs]. He’s still stuck in the Balkans somewhere. It will be a sequel, but a narrative, not a mockumentary, not a road movie. It’s already being financed, so it’s an official project now. The script is in development. But we won’t chew “King of the Belgians” all over again; we have the cast, with the king and the three people around him, but it will be a completely different film with its own identity and a different tone—much darker, much more absurd and a political satire. It will stand entirely on its own, even if you’ve never seen “King of the Belgians.” The working title is “Archipelago,” and it will be set on a Croatian island.
[Jessica Woodworth] We’ll see, it will take about three years, we think. It’s a very engaging film. One of our greatest weapons as filmmakers is humor. So we’re ready to explore that further and see what we come up with or where we’ll go. But we’ll keep it on a modest scale—co-production-wise—so that automatically cancels out a ton of very well-known actors who won’t work for less than $800,000 or 1,000,000. We’re not interested in working with these out-of-balance budgets because there are also incredibly talented actors who are affordable and who would be thrilled to be involved. We’d love to cast a number of well-known actors who are seasoned and famous—if you want to call it that—but not at the expense of throwing our ensemble out of balance. You have to respect the nature of the film and the way you work. You can make extraordinary cinema with very modest budgets. We wouldn’t be interested in going to Hollywood and work there with millions and millions of dollars. If we’re capable of financing our modest-budget films here in Europe, we’re perfectly happy, and we hope to do that for many years to come.

Where and how do you get your inspiration and your ideas for your films?

[Peter Brosens] You never know where it comes from; you have to be open, and you can’t plan it. You can’t sit down on a schedule and hope that the ideas just come like that. I think subconsciously, we’re constantly busy, 24 hours a day. Besides, we do so many things, we’re also delegate producers, we’re in charge of everything, and now we’re launching the film, it will be released in a few days…
[Jessica Woodworth] Some screenwriters and directors are only screenwriting and directing, but that’s just a fraction of what we do. We don’t waste any of our time, simply because we can’t. And we don’t do anything but this. Everyone asks us, ‘How do you survive?’ We thought once we’d better try our hand at commercials because so many directors do. But nobody wants us because our visual language is so peculiar [laughs]. So I think we failed in that endeavor, but maybe that’s a good thing. We have to be very efficient and focused and not miss any deadlines. It’s like living on the edge, but we’re comfortable living on the edge. We’re used to it; we can’t imagine having security. It would be an alien sensation [laughs].
[Peter Brosens] We also don’t have a secretary, or any personnel, no company cars… We don’t need any of that.
[Jessica Woodworth] All we need is a laptop, the internet, and original ideas, and then you build your team. You have to believe in your ideas because filmmaking can be scary, lonely, tough, there are too many compromises, and most films are never made. The competition is very fierce, the film market is crowded, and the standards of the audience are high. But without your integrity, you’re lost. We’re defending what we do, it makes our conviction stronger, and we have a very thick skin, so it doesn’t destabilize us—no matter what the reviews of our films are. We’ve been blessed with many great reviews, but we also get so many letters and emails from viewers, and those are nice. A great review is always absolutely wonderful, but letters from people who have seen our work, small confessions about the positive impact our work had on them—really honest and revealing letters—that’s pure gold.

Ghent (Belgium)
November 22, 2016

“King of the Belgians” (2016, trailer)


KHADAK (2006) DIR – SCR Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth PROD Heino Deckert CO-PROD Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth, Nadia Khamlichi, Adrian Politowski, Leontine Petit CAM Rimvydas Leipus ED Nico Leunen MUS Christian Fennesz, Altan Urag, Dominique Lawalrée, Michel Schöpping CAST Batzul Khayankhyarvaa, Tsetsegee Byamba, Banzar Damchaa, Tserendarizav Dashnyam, Dugarsuren Dagvadorj, Uuriintuya Enkhtaivan

ALTIPLANO (2009) DIR – SCR Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth PROD Heino Deckert CO-PROD Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth, Jost de Vries, Diana Elbaum, Leontine Petit CAM Francisco Gózon ED Nico Leunen MUS Michel Schöpping CAST Magaly Solier, Jasmin Tabatabai, Olivier Gourmet, Andreas Pietschmann, Behi Djanato Atai

LA CINQUIÈME SAISON, a.k.a. THE FIFTH SEASON (2012) DIR – SCR Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth PROD Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth, Philippe Avril, Diana Elbaum, Sébastien Delloye, Joop van Wijk, J.B. Macrander CAM Hans Bruch Jr. ED Jessica Woodworth MUS Michel Schöpping CAST Aurélia Poirier, Django Schrevers, Sam Louwyck, Gill Vancompernolle, Peter Van den Begin

KING OF THE BELGIANS (2016) DIR – PROD – SCR Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth CAM Ton Peeters ED David Verdurme CAST Peter Van den Begin, Lucie Debay, Titus De Voogdt, Bruno Georis, Goran Radakovic, Pieter van der Houwen

ARCHIPELAGO (ca. 2018) DIR – PROD – SCR Peter Brosens, Jessica Woodworth CAST Peter Van den Begin, Lucie Debay, Titus De Voogdt, Bruno Georis