In the chocolate factory: interview with Vincent Bal

Along with a young detective Zigzag Kid set out for an adventure full of crazy chases and action turns leading to a deeply guarded secret about the boy's mother. Vincent Bal, the director of the film, talks about working with actors, Isabella Rossellini's smile and chocolate lollipops.

Zuzanna Witulska: Watching The Zigzag Kid and having in mind your earlier works, it seems that crime movies really suit you. Why this genre is so atractive to you?

Vincent Bal: I guess I really like the slick style of crime movies, the stylistics of them. Also the way the photography, music and style of acting all work together to create a world unlike our real world. At the same time, I don't know if I see myself directing a very serious crime movie. Up till now there has always been some sort of humor in my films.

What had you found in David Grossman's novel, that made you decide to adapt The Zigzag Kid for the big screen?
The unique mix of drama, suspense and emotion is what really got to me. I loved the colorful characters, was very touched by the story, and absolutely HAD TO film this sequence in the chocolate factory.

Nono learns that to be a good inspector he has to see more than other people. Should director see more as well?
As a director you do have to be able to concentrate and look at what your actors are giving you for example. To help them give a good performance, you have to see exactly what they are doing.
Also you have to be able to find good angles to shoot a scene, to show a location. So. I guess it's true. At the same time, your ears are quite important too, you have to listen.

Is imagination essential to unravelling mysteries?
I think we all need the power of our imagination to survive in this world. Not only to unravel mysteries, but also to see the possibilities that are sometimes hidden.

Speaking of Lola Ciperola character... Did you think of Isabella Rossellini in the first place? Were you inspired by her famous role in Blue Velvet?
Isabella Rossellini was on the top of our list from the start. I saw her in Blue Velvet when I was 15 years old and I guess that made quite an impression. But what really made me love her is that wonderful sense of humour she has, which you can see in her prizewinning short films (like the recent Mamas). Besides, there is noone else who comes from cinematic royalty like she does, and still has such a mischevous smile.

How many times actors had to jump into the barrel of chocolate during the shooting?
VB: For Zohara, we had a stunt woman doing the falling in, because that was quite dangerous. The stunt woman fell in twice. Fedja van Huet, who plays Jacob, jumped in himself, only once.
The chocolate was very cold (only 15 degrees Celsius), so the actors took one hot shower in between shots. All in all, we shot the scene in about one hour. They were frozen chocolat lollipops after that...