In the summer of 2013, together with René Ahoud and Jacques de Jong, I did a Lit-Cinema performance in support of the book, at Outsider Art Gallery here in Amsterdam. We had set up in a large space on the second floor, which could fit close to fifty warm bodies. But we were just as happy with the twenty-or so, who eventually settled in for the show.
In the audience, on the second row from the front, I noticed a tall – statuesque almost – very elegant looking lady with mischievous eyes, wearing a long zebra-printed coat and a tall hat, with a fishnet veil draping over her long face and neck.
After the show she rose to full length, removed a copy of the book from the pile next to the audio mixer and craned herself toward me. She complimented me on the performance and the slightly hypnotic dreaminess of my reading style, and introduce herself as Marlijn Franken, film and video artist and fashion designer.
We talked for a few minutes and when the call from the wine bar downstairs could no longer be ignored, I told her I would not charge her for the book on the condition she contacted me and let me know what she thought after reading it. We exchanged cards and proceeded to the party, blurring out the rest of that afternoon.
That same evening, however, I punched in her name and settled in to explore her work. It’s impossible to say how long I ended up staring at the computer screen, but she had glued me to my chair. It is an understatement to say that her languid camera movements, the patience in her editing, which allows the viewer the discovery of detail both evident and imagined, and her equal appetite for silence achieved through masterly chosen music, was rather striking. I realized had just met an artist I understood.
I knew she couldn’t possibly have read my book at this point; we had only met four hours ago. And even if she got started on it, it would at least be another couple of weeks before I heard from her – hopefully with the news that The Hand of Yemanjá had not disappointed. I decided I would not wait – could not wait – and wrote to her, ending my prose with the words:
“…If you ever need a voice-over, or otherwise feel like expanding the concept of Lit-Cinema by working with a writer who adores your work….”
Our contact was sporadic after that, until the end of June of 2014, when she wrote to me.
She and her husband Reinier had just returned from Senegal, where they had shot a mountain of material they had no script for and were looking to work with some one who could help them build a story. In fact, she announced in that same e-mail that there was another project they needed scripting for, as well, a film about refugees who had been spat out on the street by the Dutch authorities.
The hilarious part is that had it never occurred to both Marlijn and Reinier at the time how intricately connected these two projects actually were and to what extent they themselves were part of the tale being told; that it wasn’t two projects at all, but one film telling two separate stories, and which today bares the name, La Lutte.
(a hopscotch between two continents)