For “Buladó” filmmaker Eché Janga,” the less dialogue, the better — and for this film, using less dialogue reflects the culture country it was filmed in, which is Curaçao.
“In my first feature film [“Helium”], there was also not so much dialogue,” Janga said during TheWrap’s Screening Series on Tuesday. “For me, communications between people is 90% non-verbal in real life. In film, it’s the most interesting medium to communicate — this language of human beings. The less dialogue for me, the stronger the image, and this is the reason why I always use not so much dialogue and I tell my story with images and looks of people and how they behave. It’s related to the culture of Curaçao — they don’t speak that much but when they say something, it’s heavy and meaningful.”
“Buladó,” Janga’s second movie, follows 11-year-old Kenza (Tiara Richards) who lives with her father (Everon Jackson Hooi) and grandfather (Felix de Rooy), who live on opposing spectrums of spirituality. Mourning her mother, Kenza decides to find her own path of spirituality into adulthood.
What’s perhaps most fascinating about the film is that Richards, who dominates the film, had never acted before.
“We visited a lot of schools and we were searching for a girl between 10 and 12 years old, and she had to resemble my sister when she was younger, a really tough girl and proud and loud and strong, and I was looking for a girl who had that,” Janga explained. “Tiara didn’t understand what it was about when we first came to the school, but she raised her finger and said, ‘whatever it is, I want to do it, because school is boring.’ Us making a feature film was a big surprise to her.”
He added, “I learned a lot from her but from a director [standpoint], I learned I can direct children as adults. She just wanted to be treated as an adult. She had never acted before… she totally understands everything about the film although it’s a difficult film for a child to understand.”
The film premiered at the Netherlands Film Festival last October, where it won the Golden Calf for Best Feature Film award, and then it was selected as the Dutch entry for the Best International Feature Film at the upcoming Academy Awards. It was a long road to getting the film made — 12 years, to be exact — but Janga still can’t believe that his small film has made such waves, not only among the Dutch film community but also in Curaçao.
“I’ve never made a film that was this emotional — it was special because it was about my own family,” he said.
Watch the video above.