On Sunday January 13th, Bozar presented the film “Absolute Beginners’’ in the presence of Belgian director Fabrizio Terranova, and of the co-founders of Dingdingdong, Émilie Hermant (psychologist, writer) and Valérie Pihet (researcher). They spoke about the emotional, candid and powerful production which doesn’t only familiarise the audience with Huntington’s disease but documents the experience of people through intimate conversations captured in the lens of magnificent cinematography.
When Huntington’s disease occurs, it changes everything: body, soul, moods, thoughts, emotions, energy, and also relationships with beloved ones. Undergoing the test that determines if one carries the genetic mutation already means a deep transformation of life. Six persons who are gene positive have decided to speak out in a film. They are experiencing the onset of their disease, and they know that, when it comes to their metamorphosis, they will always be “Absolute Beginners”.
“At the beginning I fell in love with the six people. I think that this is my sole motivation in cinema. After this, the process is long and integrative,” said Fabrizio Terranova.
After Josée Andrei: An Insane Portrait (2010) and Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival (2016), the Belgian director Terranova produced Absolute Beginners in close collaboration with Dingdingdong. Created in France in 2012, Dingdingdong aims to raise awareness about Huntington’s Disease through the experiences of the ones living with it, developing unique alliances with researchers and artists.
’’This kind of magic happens because a team invests themselves sincerely and take seriously the project. Because of the preparation, this magic was created in an unusual environment – the force of this group that was already present and gave us a new and real perspective on this condition, and as artists, we were to create something that was beautiful,’’ said the Belgian director.
The collaboration breaks the stigma of the word “illness” so often used by doctors as a death sentence pronounced in a tactless way in terms of Huntington’s. It portrays positive visions, crave for meaningful life and real interpersonal connections.
“It’s a film that focuses on the possibilities. Crucial problem is that they are misrepresented as people trembling in a corridor – but this is not it, they do not live like that. What is happening? So we started to construct, How will they be represented?’’
In this film, they share how they cope with HD in their life – past, present and future. They tell us how they gain empowerment and well-being, through acceptation of their difference, peer-to-peer meetings, and inventions from their own happiness-making genius. They are experts in searching what they need to reinvent themselves as they evolve together with the disease. ’’Absolute Beginners’’ is a film about the art of life as a perpetual metamorphosis.
“We won’t play the game of big festivals who are for an exclusive audience – we will make this for Everyone. An object that will circulate amongst everyone to share, which is quite rare for those who release films.“