Submarine Channel

Chunk: ‘Biopig’ by Jorien van Nes

A short biopic about a pig, from its pen to your plate

Reading like a pig’s biography backwards, Biopig is both confrontational and graphic, but also very well put together, stylistically superb and straight to the point. Jorien blurs the borders between reality and fiction just slightly so as to further investigate our cultural habit of eating meat. Add to this the soundtrack composed by Bram Meindersma and the result feels almost like a music video. By the way, this is a Submarine production.

Jorien used to be a meat-eater. But at the age of seventeen, she stopped eating pork. How then did she come up with a Pig as the protagonist in her short film?
Jorien says: “Well, GlobalMobile’s suggested theme was Food. So, I wondered: what’s big in Holland? Pigs! currently there are twelve million in Holland. It’s a huge export product. Italian sausages and such are all made with Dutch pork. So, I though to myself: That’s something I can make visible with a short film. We used to have as many pigs as humans in Holland and you just don’t see them. Anywhere.”

“I depicted Pig #313 in a 3.13 minute clip. This seemed like a good way to fictively bring it all together as a whole. You don’t see the actual life span of one pig. It would have been nice, to follow one particular pig for six months, but I just visited different pens of different pigs at different stages in their life cycle. It takes six months before an animals is ready for slaughter. So all of this has been scripted. I placed that boy in the restaurant. It’s not a documentary.”

It feels a bit like a music video. Was this the idea?
“I asked Bram Meindersma to compose the music. I already had the images, but I knew what kind of track I wanted. We looked at Daft Punks video with the tomatoes (Revolution 909) for inspiration. So it was definitely the idea. The computer voice over is very distorted which gives it a bit of an alienating affect. It’s very difficult to understand because it’s phonetic, the pronunciation is strange. I like that. If you listen twice you understand more of what is said.

And your somewhat graphic approach?
“Well, I intended to tell the story almost in a comic fashion. The way the pig goes from being born to ending up on your plate. These images are kind of graphic, but they are also beautiful. Yes, it has a gruesome feel, with hooks through hooves, but it’s also a beautiful picture. You can become enchanted by it, but you know that what you’re looking at is a life that will eventually end in slaughter. But you can make of it what you like. It’s also amazing how the butcher slices that meat. It’s almost like a dance he has been doing for years. It’s done with rhythm. And that comes back in the editing with the images being played backwards.

Why are you a vegetarian?
“I know I don’t solve anything by not eating meat. Those eleven million pigs will always be there, and be eaten. But I am aware of what it costs to produce a few pounds of meat. It’s a very expensive production system. I mean, we don’t pay much in the supermarkets but the life it takes and the recourses. ”

“I feel that the boy in the film should actually have eaten the meat. I would rather have had the movie end like that, come to think of it. Because in reality, that’s what happens. We know what happens behind the scenes and still we keep eating meats. The knowledge does not stop us.”

Can you tell us anything about your new feature film?
“Yes! It’s called THE HUMAN RACE and Submarine is producing it. It’s about a T.V producer who goes to Africa to produce this terrible and inhuman T.V series. He wants to have people who are fleeing from Africa to Europe race each other. The film explores his relationships with these people, and of course, Africa’s relationship with him.

Jorien van Nes is a director, and has worked with the national broadcasting company VPRO since 1997, writing and directing scenarios for several episodes of VPRO’s experimental and documentary series. She directed this short for Globalmobile, an ITVS International initiative, who invited several international filmmakers to create a short film within the theme ; FOOD



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