BFI London Film Festival Interviews

“What do you know about his life?” – Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela talk

A man, the madness, and his magical painting.

Vincent Van Gogh will always be remembered for his visionary work as well as the mental illness that plagued him most of his adult life. In a film that has 100 artists tackling intricate hand-painted frame, the artist is brought back to life in vivid and brilliance. To celebrate the release of Loving Vincent, we spoke to directors Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela about their film!

WMMOW: How are you?

Hugh Welchman: We’re melting zombies. I think Dorota is melting faster than me so I’ll probably be answering most of the questions.

WMMOW: I’m sorry to hear that.

Dorota Kobiela: No it’s fine.

HW: We just had two Paris premieres – one at the Musée d’Orsay which is a great place to have a Vincent film. We also had a public premiere last night.

WMMOW: And now you’ve flown here for more screenings and the BFI London Film Festival!

DK: Actually, we took the train. For the first time in my life, I took the Eurostar which was lovely.

WMMOW: Are you excited to showcase this wonderful film? I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. It is truly a magnificent piece of film that caused floods of tears.

Hugh Welchman: I’m sorry for the floods of tears but as filmmakers, we’re happy that it moved you.

Image result for loving vincent

WMMOW: Are you happy that it’s getting out there?

HW: It has been a long journey. We made it for audiences. For us, it is the most exciting part but it also is the most nerve-wracking. We spent a long time on it so it’s like, “what if people don’t like it?” We’re had a pretty amazing run at the festivals so hopefully people will enjoy it.

WMMOW: There were different stories surrounding his death, why did you chose to keep the ambiguity?

DK: Well, we just don’t know. No one will. We didn’t want to push a theory. As Maguerite Gachet, played by Saoirse Ronan says, “You want to know so much about his death, what do you know about his life? “ 

HW: We started out looking at why he committed suicide at that particular time when everything was going so well for him. So we wanted to see ‘what actually happened in those final weeks?” looking at those final days  and holes in the narrative that don’t make sense. Was he accidentally short by the teenage boys he hung around with? Suddenly, you’re like “that fills in some of those holes.” But there’s no proof for that theory and we couldn’t really follow thorugh with that scenario. You could argue he was a bit of a martyr and didn’t want them (the boys) to get blamed for an accident. He was sensitive and caring. That’s the speculation. But he told several people that he shot himself.

When there’s a solution, we’ll film an epilogue.

Image result for loving vincent
WMMOW: So it interestingly plays as a biopic but also a mystery thriller? How tricky was it to balance all the themes?

DK: His work and his art are the interesting centre of it

HW: We spent a lot of time replicating his story through his work. There were some people we had to cut such as Segatori, his lover in Paris and a vibrant model, connected to the mafia in Paris. Funnily enough, a gang member smashed one of Vincent’s paintings over his head. With Armand Roulin, we just had the painting and the fact that he worked as a blacksmith who’d become a policeman. However with Gachet, we had letters and there was quite a bit written about him so there was no room for interpretation.

WMMOW: Thank you! 

HW & DK: Thank you!


Loving Vincent is out in cinemas Friday!
Read our review! 

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