“I am a naive man who thinks more that movies could change the world” – Nic Balthazar in an interview about his film “Ben X”

I am a naive man who thinks more that movies could change the world - Nic Balthazar in an interview about his film Ben X

“I am a naive man who thinks more that movies could change the world” – Nic Balthazar in an interview about his film “Ben X”

  In his film Ben X Nic Balthazar tells the story of an autistic boy who can live in the “normal world” is difficult. He flees into the online game world of “Archlord”. There he can be what he wants to be. Strong, proud and confident. In real life, but he is not able to defend himself against the bullying of his environment and his classmates. Monika Sandmann met in Cologne to the Belgian director talks about his film.

Her film refers to a real case, a 17-year-old with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, had committed suicide. What exactly was the initial spark to turn it into a movie?
In the newspaper, which also was written about the suicide, was also an interview with the mother. This all happened in the way of the city where I live. In Gent.

The juvenile was a victim of bullying.
Yes. This is actually murder. I also have children so I could put myself very well in the mother inside. What do you do when your son is driven to death? No one could give her comfort. Since the decision was made. If you already I can give no comfort, I will at least help the family get an idea of how it could lead to suicide. I wanted to give them the feeling that they are not alone with her grief, but that the whole world can share their pain.

How did the family?
The nurse came into the premiere. For them it was like a funeral, which is very painful, but where you also feel that it shares the grief with many people. That makes it easier.

How realistic is your movie?
I’m afraid the film shows only one quarter of what really happened. For example, that only a few days after the suicide of 14-year-old brother also was a victim of bullying. They laughed at him because he was the brother of the Depp, who had rushed from the castle. One wonders really, how can it be done.

The teenagers were not aware of what they do?
But why not? Autism is the perfect metaphor for this attitude. Autism, they say, is a problem with empathy. You can not empathize with the skin of another. But the problem with empathy, not only autistic. The have so many people. Young and adults. People do not even know what happened to all the subtle bullying and humiliation among adults. After the premiere in Cologne so many people told me what had happened to them all the bullying. The stories were terrible.

The boundaries of “normal” and “autistic” seem to be fluent. Where autism begins, where does it end?
We are the people who never really say what we mean, and never really mean what we say. We are complicated people. For example, autistic people can not lie. They do not know how to turn the concept of truth. We understand only that! (laughs). At a screening a few weeks ago in Belgium, a mother came with her baby. Then, in the discussion, a boy with Asperger’s syndrome said that he found it impossible that this woman came with her screaming baby to the movies. It bothered him greatly, focusing simultaneously on the film. Yes, (laughing) we also thought of all the others have, but (stresses) are said not forget it! But a person with autism says so

Rain Man was one of the first film with autism
(Laughs) Since we all think a little bit, we knew what autism is. But it also shows how important it can be the cinema. Without Rain Man Autism would probably still less known.

But there is also a documentary by Sandrine Bonnaire about her sister Sabine, Elle s’appeler Sabine (2007 I took ).
Sandrine Bonn Aires film very interesting because it’s with some stereotypes clears. For example, that autistic people have no feelings. Of course they have feelings. Only, we can not comprehend right and they do not understand our feelings. Autistic people do not know how to show their feelings. Another stereotype is that autistic people live in another world. This they often do only when all around them is a lot of stress. And the more stress, the more they go into their own world. Since nothing is pure. That is like concrete. But there is another fantastic film called Autism: The Musical by Tricia Regan (2007). A documentary. There, a mother tells a very nice to be with their child then becomes difficult if it does not feel good when there is stress. It then pulls back into itself, disappears in a kind of box. The mother then tried everything to keep open the box. For as long as the box is opened, your child understand everything and learn everything. In the end, the children play together a musical. For example there is a little boy who plays Brahms. It’s unbelievable, what is doing on his violin.

Did you want to make any documentary about the case?
Yes, I have toyed with the idea. But what I find fascinating, for example, are the two young people who have tortured the boy. How do today in order to? How do they live with that? Have you seen the film and he has changed them? The idea of making a documentary about it, is still there.

The subject matter makes them any more?
Yes, this is a bit of a “never-ending story.” The issue touches so many of them and they will also affect self again. I am a naive man who thinks even that can be changed with the cinema world. (laughs). The danger is even today that many people with Asperger’s syndrome indicates that you do not recognize. It is thought that these were just freaks.

But that is not a normal feeling?
Of course. I know this of myself I wonder then, why do these people so hard. You’re almost begging about to be bullied. People with autism are not so friendly people. You have no idea why it would be nice and charming? Only if today is not charming, it is socially dead

a social problem?
Yes, but you can help them anyway. Just as, for example, help the blind. The blind will always be blind, but you can help them to participate in life. Similarly, one can help autistic people, by trying, for example, be very clear to them. By trying to make their lives less complicated. I know, for example, a man with autism, who sang in a choir. That made it great fun. The only thing bad for him was the half-hour break. He did not know what to do about it. The solution was simple. They told him to take her with an apple. Den you eat during the break. That’s your job in the break. The break is there, so you can eat your apple. And already, the problem was solved.

How do you help?
I’m the godfather of a company that is being established. There one does not focus on the weaknesses but the strengths of people with autism. There are already four people who are employed there. They make computer quality control. If we make them, no stress, then it works. That is unfortunately the world of people with autism. Stress and panic.

Your film is already running very successfully. He got prices, inter alia the “Grand Prix des Amériques” at the film festival in Montreal.
Oh, and I’ve already got the offer to do a remake in America. And that was before Montreal.

The Americans are fast
The need to provide them. But we also know that many wegkaufen from the market. Just so that it can buy no other. And then nothing happens more often with the film.

If you have refused?
No. We take a co-production. The rights I have not sold. I will eventually make a film, where Ben is perhaps ultimately cured.

, And Ben’s mate from the computer, which Scarlite is genuine.
(Laughs) Just not. But the whole thing has also meant that I was researching just about bullying in American schools. A Mexican girl told me, for example, that in the school by her classmates again, the staircase is pushed down. The girl had already broken the arms and legs. And she always had to return to school. For others it was just a game.

And the teachers did not respond?
They said she had fallen. This is not typical American now. Sowas happens everywhere.

If the computer game “Archlord” in the film means to an end in order to reach young people who are not really interested for a movie about an autistic? Or has this world still has a different meaning for you?
On the one hand it is true that many people find with autism in the video games a world where they can be what they want. In addition, a computer game for the cinema is more beautiful than when you show just a chat room with text. The real young people played a lot of video games and would often sit in chat rooms. But that is already five years ago. Today it is both, so games and chat rooms in the online games combined.

True. The online virtual world “Second Life” for example?
Yes, only now we realize that there is with Second Life or World of Warcraft, a new world. But I think we have not yet really realized how important this world is already in the social life of young people. In five years or so we will all have an avatar. Who would have thought in the past because that let’s all have an email address?

Today there be many debates that violent online games to blame for the brutalization of youth.
I hope we have not tapped into the same trap. Often we blame the technology for something, what in fact the company has debt. In the cinema there is also much we do not condemn violence and the cinema. But perhaps one should look more concrete, what we do well on the big screen and in the computer game. There are even video games, because you get a bonus when you shoot the old grandmother.

A balancing act in your film?
I hope we have shown a little of both sides. On the Internet so many people find understanding, love and friendship. There is no matter whether one too fat, too small, too old, too gay, or whatever is. But there is of course addictive. )

Her film Ben X (# has a surprisingly positive end. This was always thought so. For me it’s not a happy ending. However, I always wanted to make a film, not only remains in the desolation. But this end is much more dangerous. When we shot the scene in the church, I was fully aware when the go wrong here, then we will bury you, and again open the door, shot and buried. (laughs loudly)

can also work as a film critic. If it is not as easy to avoid mistakes that one has probably already seen in other films?
Oh, no. There are still very much in the film, which I do not like.

For example?
(Laughs) I say you better not.

Title: “I am a naive man who thinks more that movies could change the world” – Nic Balthazar in an interview about his film “Ben X”

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