One-on-one with Filmmaker Kim de Bruijn on her deeply personal documentary 'Mil'
Kim de Bruijn is a filmmaker from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She is currently studying film at the Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam. Commercial work, fiction and documentaries is what she focuses on the most. Her work contains heavy social themes which she believes need to be addressed more.
iFilmFestival: Tell us a bit about your most important film so far.
KdB: “My most important film so far is my documentary 'Mil'. In this documentary my mother and I are looking back at the impact addiction has made on our family. I wanted to make a documentary in which my mother would play a part. I don't know exactly why but I just felt I wanted to do this. We talked about helping people with our stories. For me and her it felt like we had to forget my uncle (Mil) because he died so badly. I do not pass judgment on the decisions made at that time. But he was as much family and we mourned as much for him as for any other relative. No matter how bad the story is of someone passing away, it is part of life.”
iFilmFestival: What were the key challenges making it?
KdB: “A challenge was definitely working with my mom because the subject of the film was super heavy for her. I knew beforehand how hard it was and could be for her. I prepared myself with assuming that this would limit me in what I wanted to get out of the documentary. But even knowing this it was like; "fuck it let's just try it." Because I really believed in this documentary and the way I wanted to approach it. It was, by the way, not planned that I was also shown in the film. We were shooting the first take and I noticed my mom had a really hard time opening up. So then I thought, I can also do the interview with her in front of the camera, and decided to do it.”
iFilmFestival: What’s one aspect that you’re particularly proud of?
KdB: “The aspect I'm the most proud of is raising such an intense and personal subject with my mother. This was very heavy for the both of us, but I still sometimes can't fathom that we were able to make this documentary together.”
iFilmFestival: How did you get involved in filmmaking?
KdB: “My plan was to study theater after high school. But unfortunately I was not accepted at an acting school. I appeared too young, they said. In the meantime I had already become interested in film because I had a project about film during an art class in school. I was sold. During this project I found out that I could express myself better than I ever could with acting and that there were little to no limitations with creating using this medium.”
iFilmFestival: What new projects are you working on or are you hoping to work on in the future?
KdB: “I am currently graduating from the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam. I started writing a short film for my graduation project. I don't want to say too much about it yet because I never do that when I'm still in the concept phase. It just never works for me when people know the concept of the project I'm working on. I want people to be surprised. Through this project I am planning to work again with intense social themes. I hope I can work with fiction films and documentary in the future.”
Still from 'Mil'
iFilmFestival: What role do film festivals play?
KdB: “Film festivals are a nice platform to meet with people who are just as interested in film as you are. Film festivals celebrate films and the art of filmmaking through screenings, workshops, Q&A's with filmmakers, etc. There are many opportunities to connect with people and their work at film festivals. You don't have to be always a filmmaker to attend.”
iFilmFestival: What is your advice to filmmakers tackling the festival circuit?
KdB: “I think that when you find out what festival suits your film, you give your project its own place and you find people on the festival who can relate with you and/or your project in a creative way. So give it a chance and just send in your work.”
iFilmFestival: How do you see the future of film?
KdB: “People were already very into at-home entertainment, then the pandemic happened and the theaters were closed for a long time. You can still see the aftermath of the pandemic as many movie studios are turning towards streaming services to debut their films. Fortunately, there are still people who go to the theater to see a movie and I hope it stays that way. The future of film is still uncertain I think, but it's filled with both challenges and opportunities.”
iFilmFestival: Which filmmaker do you admire and why?
KdB: “Recently I'm into the films of director Wong Kar-Wai. Every movie of him is a piece of beauty and chaos. I like it when a director manages to bring two ends together that would not match in real life. He makes movies for hopeless romantics and every day I thank him for it.”
iFilmFestival: What film have you recently seen that you have admired in one way or another?
KdB: “Chungking Express from Wong Kar-Wai, and Fallen Angels! But Chungking Express captures the feeling of drifting through life in a very dreamy way. Sometimes you find someone who fills up a void within you, then they disappear again and feelings fades. Then again you find someone else to fill that void. Endlessly drifting through life.”
iFilmFestival: Thank you Kim for answering our questions!
Kim de Bruijn's short documentary Mil (2021) is available on YouTube.
Interview by iFilmFestival on 24 Oct 2022.