Food of Love is the story of these two simple characters a mother and her soon awakening to the harsh reality of life.
FOOD OF LOVE
FOOD OF LOVE
Paul, a handsome and talented music student is employed as the page-turner at one of the world famous pianist Kennington´s concerts in San Francisco. Not only is Paul diligent but also extremely attractive, a fact noticed by Kennington and his agent Mansourian, two men at the top of their chosen careers. Kennington and Paul meet again in Barcelona, where the boy is on holiday with his mother, Pamela, who is trying to get over her husband leaving her. Paul and Kennington fall in love but this has very different implications for both men. Kennington rushes back home escaping from commitment. Pamela, meanwhile, begins to recover her self-confidence but Paul is no longer a child.
Back in the United States Paul learns that his musical career is not going to progress as desired; he simply is not talented enough. Paul and Pamela will learn through their living experience how to build a deeper relationship. Food of Love is the story of these two simple characters awakening to the harsh reality of life.
DAVID LEAVITT- AUTHOR OF THE NOVEL
VENTURA PONS - DIRECTOR
About the film
All films are concerned with the explanation of a story. A good story, and the better the story, the better the film. As a filmmaker, behind each project I have directed, it has always been, I would say, a pleasure, a fascination, a passion, an involvement and a necessity of mine to explain, to implicate myself and to submerge myself profoundly in those stories chosen by me. It is impossible for me to understand filmmaking in any other way. And, obviously, all these feelings reemerge now on proposing Food of Love.
Food of Love is a screenplay for a film based on the novel The Page Turner by the famous North American writer David Leavitt. It was originally published in the United States, in 1998 by the Boston publishers, Houghton Mifflin Company. I became acquainted with the text when, the Spanish language version titled, Junto al pianista was published in April 2000 by Anagrama, (Barcelona, Spain). Nevertheless my interest in the author is by no means recent; in fact it has lasted for more than a decade. Although it is hard to believe fifteen years have passed since his first publications! Perhaps I should pause to explain the reason behind my interest.
I became familiar with the first text by Leavitt, a book of short stories, Family Dancing, as soon as it had been published. It was given to me in Cairo by David Schor. He is a friend from New York and a university professor at Wesleyan, whom I had met up with in order to travel through Egypt. He was extremely proud, I seem to recall, as the young Leavitt, had been a brilliant student of his at University and was making a sensational debut as a writer. Indeed, Leavitt was a finalist in both the National Critics Circle Awards and in PEN/Faulkner Prize with this first book of his. I literally devoured it; Leavitt’s stories had something special. Behind the majority of them I perceived a world, which was not only close, despite the apparent geographic distance but also particularly identifiable and, at the same time, extremely cinematographic. Since then, and don’t ask me why, whenever I have read one of Leavitt’s works, I have felt this thematic closeness, but above all, I have perceived them with this vision of mine that stimulates and conditions my profession. Although geographically Leavitt was setting his stories in the United States, and then later in Europe I found them both very personal and very related to me. What he described, the behavior he portrayed, the morality, the customs of our western civilization has become very familiar and immediately recognizable to us. I suppose, for obvious reasons, principally due to the influence of the world of cinema.
Before long Leavitt left more than one person open-mouthed and, indeed, surprised everyone with his second book, The Lost Language of Cranes. This dense, compromising and poignant novel confirmed his place as a prestigious author and was brought to the cinema in 1991 in an adaptation produced by the BBC and directed by Nigel Finch. It was clear to me that somebody else had also been able to see the cinematographic possibilities of Leavitt’s work. Between the publication of this book and the shooting of the film, Leavitt spent a year in Barcelona, my city, invited with a grant given by the Institució de les Lletres Catalanes. On his arrival he telephoned me, as my friend from the United States had told him about me and during several weeks I helped him to settle into life in the city, something that he was quick to do. However after this initial period I saw him rarely. Since then we have met occasionally in New York in the home of mutual friends.
A decade passed, a decade of much work for both of us and, then I discovered The Page Turner. The same feelings, which I had experienced years before, emerged again. The significance was crystal clear to me. This book and the world described by Leavitt would allow me to progress along the road which attracted me so much and which is nothing but the opportunity to combine my filmmaking with the thematic implications which emanate from our generational, social and cultural environment.
Why can people not have what they want? What is the result of a lack of sentimental education for young homosexuals in the Western World? Is it really so easy for life to corrupt one if you are not on your guard? Is it honest if one does not fight hard to achieve ones own personal fulfillment? What is the price and what is the meaning of personal coherence in a society like ours? The originality, which I found in The Page Turner, is due to the fact that these exact questions go way beyond the gay and North American context in which they are set. The story portrays a microcosm, which is, at the same time, tragic and comic, intense and light-hearted, transparent and complex, wise and naïve, mature and tender but above all universally moving.
The novel immediately inspired me to do a very personal cinematographic translation. On writing the screenplay I changed the trip taken by the main characters from Rome to Barcelona, without allowing this change to diminish in any way the emotional impact the geographical environment has on the narrative. I have also allowed myself the liberty of changing Kennington and Mansourian from being North Americans to being British and in this way have been able to introduce, very easily, the title which, as is apparent I have taken from the first verses which Shakespeare places in the mouth of Orsino at the beginning of Twelfth Night. I have based the action not only around the awakening of Paul to the adult world but also the awakening to a new life which is experienced by Pamela, his mother, a woman disturbed by loss and by the collapse of a world which she had believed solidly established. A disturbance increased by the uneasiness produced on discovering the sexual inclinations of her son.
What interests me in Food of Love is, on the one hand, the world in construction of Pamela and her son and, on the other, the established world of the pianist and his manager. These are two opposing yet complimentary worlds. However neither one is so pure nor the other so villainous and I believe that the essence of the story lies in the various nuances of the main characters motives. It appears to me that it is necessary to explain them all together in the simplest manner possible and that the most important part is that I submerge myself in the interior of the four main characters where so much truth is contained for dissection.
I find it hard to define my style of filmmaking. Furthermore I do not believe that I am the most suitable person to do so. I always try to find very personal themes which affect me greatly and which adhere to a very personal style. The stories that I choose are neither easy nor conventional, they always contain some implicit risk. These are stories that are based on characters, and this is due to the great pleasure I obtain from working with actors. I am from the school of acting, of characters, of words. I have always liked directors as varied as Mankiewicz, Rohmer or Woody Allen... On the other hand, I am extremely attracted by the urban landscape of Barcelona. In this case, it seems to me that there is a very profound relationship between the city and my work. I am interested by the world of losers; however if one makes these kinds of films one is going against the grain, as cinema is a type of escapism, usually the world of winners and dreams is preferable. What happen is that I end up exploring themes, which have to do with the necessity for love, for communication, for finding one’s other half. That fact that we all, deep down, need each other is very important and, at times, this is spoken about with a certain frivolity. I realize that I always contemplate the same theme.
Food of Love is not only a story that I enjoy but also one that works well with the type of films that I like to make; based mainly on characters which allow me to work with a strong cast of actors who come mainly from the world of theatre. When directing, mutual understanding with the cast is something that I consider absolutely necessary. I need the existence of a great deal of it. I like to talk about the details, the motives of the characters of the stories, which we are creating together. I firmly believe that their theatrical discipline helps immensely to build the films that I direct.
A film is made up of three elements: the story, the narrative and the cast. If these do not go well together or one of the three fails, the final result will be more than suspect. This project, which we are casting with exceptional British actors, has a strong performance guaranteed by the solid professionalism of all the cast including its younger members. We believe that the professional input of these actors will give the film an interest which comes from instead of excessive, and in our opinion, unnecessary production costs, but, essentially, from their recognized talent as performers.
The basis for the mise-en-scène of cinema is the concept and it is the director who gives meaning to the story. In a feature film we must all follow an idea, a concept which unites and gives meaning to all the elements which participate: light, set design, acting, the pace, music, editing, everything must be in agreement with the director’s concept. I am not in favour of beginning to work before I have got everything quite clear as I consider that this profession requires much reflexion and that this must be done well in advance of principal photography. One of the things that I have learnt is to follow through with the concept until the end. For better or worse. I suppose that this is one of the attractive things of my films. It is not just a question of thematic risks, but also of a narrative risk, which I always follow through. Food of Love needs to be explained chronologically. I am quite aware that my delight in explaining stories with a lineal or chronological discontinuity and also my reputation for minimalist friezes have been manifested in my most recent films. However I believe that the narrative concept must serve the best interests of the story to be told and not the other way round. In this case Food of Love requires chronological order and a simplistic treatment.
I have always defended a cinema where quality and creativity take first place before expensive mediums; the type of cinema based on ideas and content. I hope to be able to convert all the hopes that inspired me to begin Food of Love into reality. I hope that both the public, which with proven interest, has followed my previous thirteen productions as well as the numerous worldwide readers of David Leavitt, who most probably will be interested by the second adaptation to film of one of his novels, will understand and enjoy this proposal in which we have invested so much illusion.
FOOD OF LOVE
DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER
Based on the novel THE PAGE TURNER
by DAVID LEAVITT
THOMAS SPIEKER & MICHAEL SMEATON
GEMMA FOLCH, MONIKA GANZENMÜLLER & PETRA SHEPELER
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
LEO DAVIS i PEP ARMENGOL
A ELS FILMS DE LA RAMBLA, S.A. production
in assotiation with 42ND STREET PRODUCTIONS, S.L. and FFP MEDIA ENTERTAINMENT, Gmbh
with the support of
and with the participation of VÍA DIGITAL, TELEVISIÓN ESPAÑOLA and TELEVISIÓ DE CATALUNYA
FOOD OF LOVE
Berlin & Wunsiedel (Germany)
San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, San José, San Diego, Philadelphia & New York (USA)
Paris, Nantes & Grenoble (France)
Tel-Aviv, Haifa & Jerusalem (Israel)
Tokio & Osaka (Japan)
Santo Domingo (Rep. Dominicana)
Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Out Takes FF (New Zealand)
Prague (Check Republic)
Huesca & Valladolid (Spain)
Mexico D.F. & Monterrey (Mexico)
Festival de Quito (Ecuador)
SPAIN FINE ARTS GOLD MEDAL.
Live Achievement for Ventura Pons (Levante Cartelera, Valencia).
Best Music: Carles Cases (Catalan Directors Awards)