The Shadow World, a new feature project from Johan Grimonprez, will be the first to pitch at the IDFA Forum, the festival's co-production market. This is great for the producing team, but raises the stakes as well. “Johan already has the experience, but going first is still a bit nerve-wracking,” says Emmy Oost of Onomatopee Films, the director's regular producer in Belgium and co-producer of this project.

Still from Johan Grimonprez's The Shadow WorldGrimonprez is as much an artist as a film director, best known for his highly creative treatment of archive images. In Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y he combined 1960s and 1970s news footage of plane hijackings with a disco soundtrack, while in Double Take he explored the iconic screen presence of Alfred Hitchcock.

The Shadow World is slightly different, since its starting point is a book. Written by acclaimed author Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC member of the South African parliament, it reveals  how the international arms trade fosters corruption, undermines democracy and causes suffering on a global scale. “It’s a tremendously credible basis with very long reach, and as Johan's work has always been politically engaged and engaging, it suits his interests and his gifts very well,” Oost explains.

The story will be brought to the screen with a strong narrative thruline that includes interviews with insiders and whistleblowers around the world, accompanied by archival and found footage.” Johan's personal style will be incorporated in the storytelling and will bring the film to another level.”

Grimonprez works by editing images rather than writing, and thanks to funding from the Bertha Foundation, Cinereach and the Sundance Institute he already has a 25-minute edit covering some of the interviews. This will still be under wraps at IDFA, however.

The project will be pitched by Grimonprez and Feinstein, along with producer Joslyn Barnes of Louverture Films in New York. Besides Oost, US producer Anadil Hossain of Dillywood will also attend. Their aim is to build the European side of the co-production, in particular by bringing major broadcasters on board. Sales agent Wide is already attached. IM

Published on Saturday 17 November 2012

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