Biography

From the Flanders (i) magazine

Under the Influence

The cast of Vincent Bal's latest film, Nono, The Zig Zag Kid, knows about his taste in movies. 'At the end of the shoot I gave each of the actors a DVD of a film that had really touched me,' he explains. 'Among them were The ApartmentTo Be Or Not To Be - I gave that to Isabella Rossellini - and Hôtel du Nord by Marcel Carné. These old films are from so long ago but you can see that they are about people. It's the story of the characters that touches you. They are so well-written, so well-made. Timeless, in a way.'

Vincent Bal - portraitEven though cinema has changed since these films were made, Bal thinks lessons can still be learned from them. 'The rhythm may be different but the emotions are the same,' he says. 'I think you can also get something from the tone. In Billy Wilder's films, for example, there's a combination of sarcasm and a sort of romance. It's like yin and yang. If it's only romance, it gets sappy, so you need a bit of the sarcasm to make it real and gritty. I really like that combination.'

Bal first came into contact with the films of Wilder, Ernst Lubitsch and other classic directors through watching TV when he was growing up in Ghent. He was also touched by more modern films. 'I'm a child of the eighties, so films like Back to the Future were really important, but I also discovered Woody Allen, and that was an eye-opener for me because I really loved the humour,' he says. 'Then, when I was 18, I discovered Peter Greenaway, which was a totally different kind of cinema and very visual. I loved Drowning By Numbers.'

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Published on Friday 10 February 2012

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