Filmmaker Name: Marie De Hert and Ellen Pollard
Film Title: Happy Together (World premiere)
In 50 words or less, what is your film about?
A short film about the surprising relationship between three old age pensioners and a young Iraqi refugee.
What happens when three elderly run over a refugee on a deserted road? Are they in shock, in anguish or angry? Aren’t they also a little bit curious and intrigued?
This is the story of the elderly Chris, Gusta and Maurits; two sisters and a brother who live together and are set in their daily routines and habits. One day, while driving on their weekly trip to the supermarket, they hit a young Iraqi refugee named Mohanad. They decide to hide him at home and to care for his injuries.
Chris and Gusta are fully dedicated to the care of the wounded Mohanad. Their dull life gets a sudden new shine. Maurits, however, is not amused with the intruder and feels he is a troublemaker. Slowly Maurits discovers that he might have more in common with Mohanad than he imagined.
What follows is the development of an unexpected friendship, based on the reminiscence of the destructions of war, that binds souls over time and continents.
What was your motivation to make this film… why this film, and why now?
"Happy Together" is a light yet moving comedy. The short film explores the theme of refugees from a fresh perspective. Our own grandparents have experienced the Second World War. How do their experiences compare with those of Mohanad and all the others that seek refuge in our country?
To make the movie, we wanted to work with a pure and authentic cast.
The young Iraqi refugee is interpreted by Mohanad, who also presented the initial idea of the screenplay. He came to Belgium in 2008 as a political refugee.
Chris, Gusta and Maurits are the grandparents of director Marie. They are not professional actors themselves, but have hands-on experience with the horrors of war with the bombardments of Antwerp. All actors share the fear, trauma and the suffering associated with war. In 'Happy Together' we show that their stories are more similar than one might expect.
The original idea of the storyline came from Mohanad. From the first meeting onward, we knew that we were dealing with an extraordinary person. He shared his personal and professional history in Iraq. He was a respected and loved actor, a producer and author. In Belgium he combines different odd jobs with freelance theatre and movie acting.
From our first contact, we instinctively and intuitively felt that we would be able to collaborate and pursue this project. Mohanad's warmth, enthusiasm and tenacity were always an inspiration. When he asked us to tell his story we did not have any doubts.
The result is "Happy Together," a short film with a humoristic twist and a heart-warming message.
Was there anything strange, funny, interesting, sad, scary, or otherwise unusual about making this film?
We worked with non-professional actors only, so that was definitely the biggest challenge of all.
What is your connection to Mississippi? If you don’t have one, why did you choose to enter your film into a Mississippi festival?
We don't have a connection to Mississippi but we can't wait to discover the city. We chose to submit to this festival because we heard wonderful things about it!