(Pas de Deux)
“a wonderful, richly textured examination of the strange, emotional world of twins” – John Doyle, Globe and Mail
Twins fascinate us. Romulus and Remus. Castor and Pollux. We cannot get enough of them.
But what happens when one of them dies?
Lone Twin is a feature-length journey-film, told through the eyes of a filmmaker who lost her twin brother in a tragic accident at age 20.
To understand the impact of being a lone twin for most of her life, she revisits key relationships to understand how the death of her brother affected her life and loves. She takes us on a journey to four continents, meeting twins between 18 and 80. Even the experts in the film are twins themselves.
Lone Twin is a moving yet lighthearted quest for understanding of solitude, togetherness and the universal search for wholeness.
Having been a twin until my brother died at age 20, I have walked through life as an indefinable item. Was I a twin, or not? Did I used to be a twin, or did I remain a twin? It was unclear, but it didn't matter at the time. The reality was that I took up a lot of space, had a big mouth and many lovers.
In the space of a handful of years, all that changed -1 wedding (my daughter), 4 funerals of close family members and the breakup op my couple (of 17 years)-. And with the changes, came the questions: the personal ones, but also the bigger ones.
I took a break to try to come to grips with it all and I set off to India for a few months. The essay that I intended to write 'X-Ray of Today' was never written. Instead, I wrote a very personal tale Diaries of a Twin. It helped me to revisit a period of my life that –I realised quickly- had been left unresolved and that I kept dragging along like a heavy rucksack.
Usually twins don't talk about themselves. It is enough just being twins. Having lost my twin brother at age 20, I had experienced twin hood both from within and from without. I don't know if that makes me an expert but it urged me to wanting to know more about twin hood. Death is still a major taboo in our society. But if one half of a twin dies, the taboo becomes complete. We assume we will leave the world as we entered it – together.
Being a filmmaker, I decided that my very personal experience could be the backbone for a documentary about twins and the loss of a twin.
Lone Twin/Pas de Deux is built around my personal experience but I hope it will connect with anyone striving to understand intimacy and the search for the perfect soul mate.
Anna Van der Wee
In 2008 NFB filmmaker in residence Cat Cizek contacted me to see whether I might be interested in co-producing a documentary with her friend and sometime colleague, Belgium filmmaker Anna Van der Wee. Later that year, I met Anna at the International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam (IDFA). With our common backgrounds, having grown up in the 1960s, I being Dutch and Anna being Flemish (or crypto Dutch as I'd teasingly like to say), we hit it off immediately and I really liked her idea about a documentary on twins that was personal and universal.
Anna is a fraternal twin (she strongly believes fraternal twins are under represented in film and literature - with all the glory going to identical twins) who had lost her brother in a tragic accident at age 20. She had been writing a book about the experience of her loss and how it had affected her subsequent relationships. Now she was ready to take her story to the screen and she had a wonderful international line up of twins and experts. As a bonus, the experts were not just experts in the academic sense, they were all twins themselves. So we would be able to populate a film with mostly twins!
As with most films, the most difficult thing was to find financing but fairly early on Anna got support out of Belgium and we got Canadian interest from Jane Jankovic at TVO and Murray Battle at Knowledge which turned into broadcast commitments.
We would be going into production just as there were significant changes in the Canadian broadcast environment.
The Canadian Television Fund, an important subsidy provider to Canadian independent filmmakers, had, no doubt under pressure from a basically documentary unfriendly, conservative government and cable industry, just morphed into the Canadian Media Fund (CMF) where Return on Investment and new media formats were king. Subsequently we had to navigate new rules and regulations.
For the casual reader and non-filmmakers these are likely Byzantine and incomprehensible but what matters for these notes is that two new basic envelopes were created for documentary; one for Convergence and one for Point of View (POV) documentaries. Broadcasters are allocated "envelopes" of money in the Convergence stream which, according to certain criteria and formulas, they can assign to productions they want to support. The idea behind the POV stream is that money is allocated to films but from a kitty separate from the broadcasters' envelopes, in theory allowing broadcasters to support more productions and at a significant higher level of support (check out the CMF's website for clarification).
Thus we were encouraged a week prior to the POV application deadline to apply under the POV envelope and I spent the first three days of my week's summer vacation on the beautiful Bruce Peninsula going through guidelines and tackling the application.
The application got in, I did get a bit of holiday time (and the sting of holiday work was alleviated by the view of the lake from my "office" window) and we waited for the results. There was no doubt in our minds that this film, with such a distinctive auteur's voice, would qualify and it wasn't really a surprise when the approval arrived several weeks later.
But much to my surprise, were allocated significantly less than anticipated. One important condition had been buried in an appendix; it stipulated that the producer had to invest 90% of its tax credits (another subsidy incentive based on labour expenditures, originally created to help independent producers survive between projects or to help them build their companies) in the film. We had committed tax credits but not the pre-requisite 90%. This meant that we would lose a substantial amount of income and would have to somehow interim finance a significantly larger amount (tax credits come to the producer months after completion of the production) as we finished the film.
Likely with the new guidelines we were guinea pigs as it took several weeks to receive confirmation that we could withdraw our POV application and reapply under the Convergence guidelines. Meanwhile production had commenced and we were spending large sums of money. Eventually we were approved and we were able to close financing.
That was the tedious and boring part…. Production on the other hand initially proceeded flawlessly. Anna, DOP John Price and sound recordist Peter Sawade followed a rock 'n roll schedule through Canada, USA, UK and Belgium to film twins. A very important segment of the film was to play in Nigeria and this is where things got interesting. Getting access to Nigeria was not as easy as we anticipated – even though there were no political intentions or overtones to the film – and the entire Storyline team spent hair raising moments (with Kudos to production coordinator Amanda Feder and associate producer Lisa Valencia-Svensson) to obtain permission and visas to enter Nigeria. Once we knew approval had been granted, to avoid any mishaps, I flew to Ottawa two days prior to the crew's departure to personally take possession of the visas. It seemed touch and go until the very last moment but miraculously the visas appeared and the crew was off to Africa to film the touching and emotional finale of the film.
As part of the official Belgium-Canada coproduction treaty, it had been agreed that all post production services, off and online picture, sound editing and mixing, would be performed in Canada and Anna took up residence in Toronto in the middle of a cold, snowy Canadian winter.
The offline edit proved to be a challenge. Whereas writing the book had been a mostly singular experience, the making of the film had been a team effort and much more emotionally challenging for Anna. Meeting fellow twins had deepened the understanding of her loss and opened up old wounds and memories. Anna's editor Dave Kazala, became a vital collaborator and doubled as therapist as they sifted through the footage to construct the narrative.
Despite the bitter winter, Anna enjoyed her stay in Toronto and with her outgoing personality became a bit of a Dundas Street fixture. The Storyline office where Anna and Dave were working is right beside a hipster coffee shop (the Canadian variety, not the Dutch one….) and though I'd been at the location for 3 years, to most of the shop's staff I was just another middle aged, bald white guy customer. Anna however, would receive a movie star's welcome when she entered the shop.
With help and feedback from friends, family and fellow filmmakers, each version of the film improved and as winter turned to spring, a wonderfully personal and lyrical story emerged from Storyline's basement edit room. Anna's narration script got a fine polish from writer Jennie Punter, composer Tuur Florizoone provided an intimate sound track, animator Tom Hillman created hilarious animation, Andrew Mandziuk did some miraculous picture modifications and Daniel Pellerin and his team worked their magic on the final sound mix.
Anna's now back in Belgium and the office will never be quite the same again. We're delighted to have Lone Twin as a document of our collaboration and time together and look forward to the success the film deserves.
Anna Van Der Wee – Director, Producer
Anna Van der Wee is a distinguished producer and director, with hundreds of hours of award-winning television to her name. For over a decade, her company Wild Heart Productions — based in Canada and Belgium —has produced relevant, hard-hitting and compelling programming commissioned and bought by broadcasters from around the world.
Notably, Anna ran a monthly television magazine called CONTACT Europe. She has worked on a wide variety of long-form documentaries, from poetic arts documentaries, to intimate social issues to powerful human rights films. Her projects include Panamarenko (2006), The Gift of Dyslexia (2001) and The Dead are Alive: Eyewitness in Rwanda (1996), which was the first international film to examine the atrocities of the genocide.
Anna is currently in the final stages of a novel on twins. She is also co-writing and developing a historical documentary on a very controversial man, Paul Panda Farnana, the first Congolese to get a higher education in Belgium.
Ed Barreveld – Producer
Ed Barreveld has been making films since 1986 when he joined the Ontario Studio of Oscar-winning National Film Board of Canada. He has been an independent producer since 1996, focusing on point of view, auteur driven documentaries.
Since 2004, Barreveld has been the sole principal of Storyline Entertainment, the company he co-founded in 2000 for the company's inaugural release of the award winning documentary Aftermath: The Remnants of War. Barreveld's films have been broadcast globally, have shown at major international festivals such as Hot Docs, IDFA, Toronto International Film Festival and have garnered many awards, including Gemini Awards for Shipbreakers (2005) and Tiger Spirit (2009). 2010 saw the release of Resilience: Stories of Single Black Mothers, The Real M*A*S*H and The Market. Barreveld is based in Toronto, Canada
David Kazala – Editor
David Kazala is an award-winning editor based in Toronto, Canada.
Kazala's career in Canadian documentary spans over a decade. His outstanding work has contributed to the making of many acclaimed films including: The Real MASH (2010 Storyline Entertainment), Diamond Road (2008 Gemini for Best Documentary Series), The Bomber's Dream (2007 Gemini Nomination for Best History Documentary Program), Worlds Collide: The Sage of Herschel Island (2007 Gemini Nomination for Best Picture Editing in a Documentary Program or Series), Sex Slaves (2007 Emmy for Best Investigative Journalism, 2006 Bafta Award Nomination for Best Documentary Program, 2006 Edward R. Murrow Award, 2006 Gracie Award for Outstanding Documentary), The Secret of the Snake Goddess (2007 Storyline Entertainment – Golden Sheaf Award Best History Documentary) and The Ritchie (2004 Opening film for Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival, 2005 short-list for Best Documentary Feature by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 2004 Audience Award at the Hong Kong Film Festival).
Tuur Florizoone – Composer
Tuur Florizoone has quickly become one of Belgium’s most beloved musicians. With great style and irresistible stage presence he proves that his unusual instrument is capable of much more than your regular street corner busking. Jazz is only one of the many types of music this musical world citizen has in his kit bag. The fact that he is comfortable in pop as well as in world music is obvious from the endless list of names with whom he has shared the stage or the recording studio: Carlos Núñez, Alfredo Marcucci, Zahava Seewald, Chris Joris, Philip Catherine, Jean- Louis Martinier... In 2008, during the prestigious World Soundtrack Awards, the public were completely enamoured with his passionate score for the Flemish film “Aanrijding in Moscou”. The soundtrack’s international success leads us to believe that Tuur is well on his way to becoming our own Yann Tiersen. No wonder he prefers the intimacy of a trio. At previous editions of the Flemish Jazz Meeting, Florizoone enchanted the audience with Tricycle and with the unusual combination of accordion, tuba and cello with the energetic trio Massot-Florizoone-Horbaczewski. This year he is back with MixTuur, an altogether more ambitious project. With names like Aly Keita, Tutu Puoane, Chris Joris or Nicolas Thys, MixTuur brings talent from East and West, North and South. This is the (temporary) apotheosis of his already brilliant career.
John Price – DOP
John Price is an independent filmmaker who has produced experimental documentaries, dance and diary films since 1986. His love of analog photography led naturally to extensive alchemical experimentation with a wide range of motion picture film emulsions and camera formats. Engagement with these modes of creation connected the way an images texture communicates subtext and is a key feature of his work and the work he shoots for others.
Lisa Valencia-Svensson – Associate Producer
Lisa Valencia-Svensson's first films, Borderless and Sedition, directed by award-winning filmmaker Min Sook Lee have screened at festivals globally. Since 2007 she has been working at Storyline Entertainment, where she produced Resilience: Stories of Single Black Mothers. She has a number of documentary projects in development, including The House That Herman Built. Lisa has a background in finance, community media, and research work. She plans to continue working on film projects which explore political issues and socially relevant themes, and which encourage audiences to view their world through a constructively critical lens.
Mieke De Wulf - Line Producer
Mieke De Wulf has worked for more than 14 years as Line Producer for A Private View, an award winning production company for feature films and documentaries based in Ghent, Belgium She has produced and coproduced more than 25 feature films en documentaries which have been distributed worldwide. Since 2009, she works as a freelance line producer. She is also teaching Film Production at KASK, a Film School based in Ghent and manages an alternative Art Cinema House Off/Off.
Amanda Feder – Production Coordinator
Amanda Feder graduated with honors from Ryerson University's Film Studies program, where she focused her degree on writing and producing. Amanda has written and produced short segments for CNN International and Salt & Light Television, and has worked as a researcher for Gemini-nominated documentary filmmaker Andrée Cazabon. She worked at Storyline Entertainment from August 2008 to 2010. She's currently working on her film Sex on Wheels.
Peter Sawade – Location Sound
Peter Sawade is a Gemini-award winning sound recordist, who has done on-location sound for hundreds of award-winning productions that have taken him around the world.
Daniel Pellerin – Sound Design
Daniel Pellerin is one of Canada's finest recording and re-recording mixer/engineers, sound designers and music supervisors. He has worked with a who's who of Canadian filmmakers such as Atom Egoyan, Clement Virgo, James Cameron, Shelley Saywell, Min Sook Lee, Michael Kot, Ron Mann and Bruce MacDonald. He has been nominated for 10 Genie Awards of which he has won three (Atom Egoyan's The Sweet Hereafter, Istvan Szabo's Sunshine and Clement Virgo's Love Come
Down). He has been nominated for 16 Gemini Awards, for which he has won two (Musicians in Exile and Under the Piano). He has worked extensively with Storyline Entertainment and he was the supervising mixer for Min Sook Lee's Tiger Spirit and My Toxic Baby.
Tom Hillman – Animation
Tom Hillman serves as Director of Ghost Fx at Renegade Motion Picture Corporation. Mr. Hillman is a self-taught multifaceted artist. Using his innovative cutting edge design principles, he has given unique style to over 150 productions in the last ten years that he has animated, produced, or directed going to air on television and film.
Festivals & Screenings
TV BROADCAST: RTBF - Belgium (Jul. 12 & 13, 2012)
TV BROADCAST: CANVAS/VRT - Belgium and France
TV BROADCAST: Knowledge Network - British Columbia, Canada
TV BROADCAST: TVOntario - Ontario, Canada
The 14th Congress of the International Society of Twin Studies - Florence, Italy (Apr. 1-4, 2012)
VICTORIA FILM FESTIVAL - Victoria, Canada (Feb. 4, 2012)
WORLD PREMIERE: Flanders International Film Festival - Ghent, Belgium (Oct. 14, 17 & 20, 2011)
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERE: IDFA - Amsterdam, Netherlands (Nov. 2011)