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Tiger directors: Dick Tuinder, Farewell To The Moon

The Dutch artist and filmmaker’s second feature is set in 1970s Amsterdam.

Dutch artist and filmmaker Dick Tuinder remembers vividly NASA’s final mission to the moon in the summer of 1972.

He was a kid watching on TV. That mission provides the backdrop to his feature film Farewell To The Moon (sold by Media Luna and competing in the IFFR Tiger Competition). 

The film is set in early ’70s Amsterdam, at the time of the space mission. Bob (Marcel Hensema) is a family man and tennis instructor who becomes intrigued by his glamorous new neighbour in his high rise block of flats.

“He [Bob] tries to make progress in his life but he ends up in a place that is very similar to the place he left,” Tuinder explains. “There is nothing to do but go back.”

Farewell To The Moon deals with subject matter that is both comic and tragic - the break-up of a family.

“I thought it was very important to have this light tone,” Tuinder says of the way that even the most traumatic scenes are undercut with pathos and humour.

“The parents are divorced and the children have to have dinner with their father alone once a week. He is very awkward about it. He tries to be funny, he tries to be sweet. He is talking to his son and ignoring his daughter. To get his attention, she pushes over a glass of milk. He has a lot of anger in him - so he hits his daughter and he is shocked by himself. He apologises. She looks at him and says it doesn’t matter. She forgives him.”

The adults in the film are obsessed by their own lives and become increasingly childish as their world falls apart. The kids - the 12 year old son and his sister - are far more outward looking and grown up. The boy has his romantic encounter, with a valium-addicted neighbour who is very lonely.”

The ’70s are recreated in “functional” fashion. Tuinder was determined not to be camp but to stay true to his own memory of the time. “If a period film is to have any meaning, it has to relate in some way to the current situation,” the writer-director suggests. He believes that ’70s angst, brought on by oil shortages, the Vietnam War and the permanent feeling of impending crisis, is close to the anxiety felt today.

Farewell To The Moon was produced by Column Film, a company with which Tuinder has a long association.

Was it straightforward or a struggle to raise the finance? “It was a straightforward struggle,” the director sighs.

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