ON MYTH AND REALITY
Filmed on color and B/W Super 16mm film in the tropical rainforest of Suriname, South America, HE WHO EATS CHILDREN is a non-traditional 15:00 "portrait" film that finds its subject in the form of X* - a Dutchman by birth, an engineer by training, and a monster by myth - a nightmare creature who drinks the blood of children...
X has lived on the Upper Suriname River of the former Dutch colony of Suriname since the guerrilla war in 1989. Fluent in the Maroon language of Saramaccan (created by the descendants of ruaway slaves in the mid-1600s) and co-author of several technical manuals, he is the sole inhabitant of a small jungle village accessible only by motor-canoe, two decades and counting...
*for reasons of privacy, X's name has to stay hidden for now...
ON SHADOWS AND COLONIAL GHOSTS
As one of the only whites who has lived continuously in this rural Saramaccan community for the last three decades, X’s presence is the stuff of rumor and myth. In the upriver village of Bendekonde where I lived and worked as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1998-2000 (and became fluent in Saramaccan in the process), X’s name was frequently invoked by mothers as a curse or as a threat – this white man was a demon who ate children, he was a warning to all who would misbehave.
To me, he was simply a ghost – in the years that I lived in Bendekonde and in the handful of times that I have been back, I never crossed his path, never saw a trace of him beyond the thatched huts half-hidden along the bank of a long and winding river. Whatever it may have been, X’s true self was dismantled through the villagers’ mythic retellings; as the most visible outsider in a Maroon community descended from runaway slaves, X's presence functioned as a physical reminder of a colonial past - one whose legacy is more frightening than any shadow creature..
Filmed in and around the Saramaccan villages of the Upper Suriname River , HE WHO EATS CHILDREN will rely on hand-held observation, subdued horror film tropes and Saramaccan myth re-enactments in order to produce an unstable image of an otherwise stable individual. Verité interviews with Saramaccan children and conversations between myself and X in Saramaccan will populate the film as well. All of these will work in tandem towards the production of two filmic realities, in which myth and reality are given equal sway, in which form and content are brought into glorious alignment.
Invoking the ethno-surrealist post-colonial sensibilities of Daumë (2000), (my first of four films from Suriname), the mask performances of Trypps #6 (Malobi) (2008) and the hermit-in-the-woods theme of any number of my recent collaborator Ben Rivers’ films, HE WHO EATS CHILDREN will follow a thread established in my more recent works, such as Let Us Persevere in What We Have Resolved Before We Forget (2013) and Greetings to the Ancestors (2015), in which the ruins of colonialism are forever crumbling around a profoundly strange and syncretic present.
PRODUCTION + POST-PRODUCTION
HE WHO EATS CHILDREN will be shot by a one-person crew (me) over the course of three weeks in Suriname using a mostly hand-held Aaton XTR S16mm camera and occasional sync sound. With the aid of my good friend and occasional collaborator Benjen Pansa (pictured above, with bucket in hand), I will travel upriver in search of a man I’ve never met, will gather visual and auditory evidence of the man that he is and the one that he might be.
Once the shoot is complete, I will spend 4-6 weeks editing the film in Paris, where all editing, sound mix and color correction will be conducted by yours truly. Production will begin shortly after this campaign launches - in mid-March (!); post-production will follow in May and June and the film should be completed on DCP in late August.
THE COST OF CINEMA
I am self-producing this film on a $10,000 budget, one that benefits from the matching-funds generosity of the Fandor FIX Initiative. I need to raise $5,000 via Kickstarter in order to make this film a reality - all funds will go directly into Super 16mm film stock and processing, equipment rental, travel costs, food and anti-malarial medication, a silicone mask (shh - it's a secret!), a small stipend for Benjen and X, and various post-production fees. This is a rather small budget for an ambitious project - anything raised above the $5,000 level will be totally useful in making this film a viable reality.
Fandor has launched a new initiative called FIXshorts to help fund 5 short films from FIX filmmakers. Fandor will help promote and feature the films and guarantee distribution on the service when the films are completed. By donating $10 to all five campaigns you will receive a one year membership to Fandor.com!
Check out the other campaigns here:
Lori Felker's Discontinuity
Maximon Monihan's Sea to Shining Sea
Maya Erdelyi's Anyuka
David Schendel's Dead Ink Archive
Risks and challenges
There's no telling where that jungle path will lead, but even if there's naught but an overgrown hut and a few ghastly traces of X's last meal, I am confident that I will return from Suriname with more than enough material to complete this work.
As a work of speculative non-fiction, this film is necessarily subject to the whims of circumstance. While I've hedged my bets that X will be available and willing to cooperate (my sources have already indicated as much), the framework that I've constructed, in which myth is as vital as fact, allows for his total absence - the rest will unravel in due time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (29 days)