i-D brings you the second in the series of the Best Short Film Award in collaboration with the London Short Film Festival in the run up to the festival’s 10th anniversary, January 2013.
Orders of Love is a charming tale by Jes Benstock about life, love, and the often complex web of family histories by which we are all bound. Jes was born in Glasgow in 1964 and has a background in theatre and comedy. He has directed award winning documentaries, short fiction and music promos. His latest film, The British Guide to Showing Off was released in UK cinemas in 2011.
As an emerging filmmaker, how important do you think it is to make films about the worlds closest to you? I think it really helps your creative process to start with what is within arm’s reach. That’s not to say that the subjects you pick should be easy ‐ but it helps if you have easy access to them.
What were the challenges of making a film about your family? I wanted to make a film that reached beyond my family and appealed to a wider audience. That meant really honing in on the key emotional points of the story and not getting dragged down into the family minutiae. I had to work hard to get beyond the complex family politics so I could feel free and wasn’t afraid to touch on difficult and hidden truths. That was the toughest emotionally because I didn’t want to hurt anyone, but I did fall out badly with one of my aunties. Fortunately we made up a few weeks before she died.
Who was Bert Hellinger, and why did you feel the need to include Bert in the film? Bert is a pioneering and controversial family therapist who focuses on the family as a universal system powered by love. Of course almost everyone in every family gets tangled up emotionally, so what’s done out of love often comes out a little twisted. His skill and the beauty of his brand of family systems therapy is the untangling of those complex emotions ‐ often in one session. How we laid out the family tree and many of the graphics was influenced by Bert’s ideas.
Could you talk a bit about the unusual sound design for your film? The sound design reflects the film’s main theme: the hidden and absent family history. I asked a composer friend, Karina Townsend, to develop and enhance on the introductory bars of a very old recording of Kol Nidre (which is the opening hymn on the Jewish Day of Atonement). She created an amazing, rich, layered sound, and then removed the original musical phrases. What’s left is so suggestive that it still makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.
How have you progressed as a filmmaker since you won the award eight years ago? The biggest progress is the scale of work I am now doing. The last piece was a feature length doc with lots of animation. I started it in 2004 and completed it last summer.
Where do you see yourself in another eight years? At the rate I’m going I’ll have made another feature by then. Hopefully I’ll have got a little quicker at it.
What are you working on at the moment? I’m working on an alternative take on documentary with comedian Arnold Brown. The film will be a surrealist, existentialist detective story set in a Glasgow of the mind. Also I am developing a feature on dark tourism and a shorter experimental piece about failing sight and perception.
Text: Joe Cohen