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© 2015 ELS FILMS DE LA RAMBLA S.A. ||  VENTURA PONS

 

Food of Love is the story of these two simple characters a mother and her soon awakening to the harsh reality of life.

VENTURA PONS

2001
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.

 
FOOD OF LOVE
VO/

JULIET STEVENSON

ALLAN CORDUNER

PAUL RHYS

KEVIN BISHOP

GERALDINE McEWAN

 

DAVID LEAVITT- AUTHOR OF THE NOVEL

VENTURA PONS - DIRECTOR

THE SHOOTING

 
FOOD OF LOVE

 

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.

Ventura Pons

 
FOOD OF LOVE

 

DIRECTOR AND PRODUCER

VENTURA PONS

 

SCREENPLAY BY

VENTURA PONS

 

Based on the novel THE PAGE TURNER

by DAVID LEAVITT

 

EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS

THOMAS SPIEKER & MICHAEL SMEATON

 

ASSOCIATE PROUCERS

GEMMA FOLCH, MONIKA GANZENMÜLLER & PETRA SHEPELER

 

LINE PRODUCER

AINTZA SERRA

 

MUSIC

CARLES CASES

 

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY

MARIO MONTERO

 

EDITOR

PERE ABADAL

 

ART DIRECTOR

BEL.LO TORRAS

 

SET DRESSER

MARÍA GIL

 

DIRECT SOUND

BORIS ZAPATA

 

CASTING

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

EURIMAGES

 

and with the participation of VÍA DIGITAL, TELEVISIÓN ESPAÑOLA and TELEVISIÓ DE CATALUNYA

 

 
FOOD OF LOVE
 
FOOD OF LOVE

Festivals:

Berlin & Wunsiedel (Germany)

San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, San José, San Diego, Philadelphia & New York (USA)

Paris, Nantes & Grenoble (France)

Torino (Italy)

Brussels (Belgium)

Montreal (Canada)

London (UK)

Istanbul (Turkey)

Tel-Aviv, Haifa & Jerusalem (Israel)

Warsaw (Poland)

Espoo (Finland)

Oslo (Norway)

Tokio & Osaka (Japan)

Santo Domingo (Rep. Dominicana)

Lisboa (Portugal)

Copenhague (Denmark)

Bogotá (Colombia)

Goteborg (Sweden)

Berna (Switzerland)

Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

Mexico (Mexico)

Out Takes FF (New Zealand)

Prague (Check Republic)

Bucharest (Romania)

Huesca & Valladolid (Spain)

Belgrade (Serbia)

Mexico D.F. & Monterrey (Mexico)

Festival de Quito (Ecuador)​

 

Awards:

SPAIN FINE ARTS GOLD MEDAL.

Live Achievement for Ventura Pons (Levante Cartelera, Valencia).

Best Music: Carles Cases (Catalan Directors Awards)

 

 

 

 
FOOD OF LOVE

One-movie-a-year cult Catalan helmer Ventura Pons makes his fifth consecutive appearance at the Berlinale with "Food of Love," an engaging adaptation of David Leavitt's wittily titled 1998 novel, "The Page Turner." Attempts by Iberian helmers at Anglophone fare have generally been misfires, but Pons has aimed for a performance-driven drama whose virtues are of the small-scale, low-key variety, with the director working within narrow dramatic limits as always but here doing so brilliantly. Gay-themed pic should settle into standard Pons destinations and fest sidebars, though both subject matter and the low-profile cast will mean arthouse at best in English-speaking territories.

Rebellious, 18-year-old student Paul (Kevin Bishop) is hired as a page-turner for a New York concert by a classical pianist Richard Kennington (Paul Rhys), who can't keep his mind on his music whenever the youngster draws near. Paul's scatty, jittery mother, Pamela (Brit actress Juliet Stevenson, with a SoCal accent), has big plans for her son, but her own life is falling apart: When she discovers her husband has been having an affair, she and Paul head for Barcelona to get away from it all.

On arrival, Paul sees that Richard is in town and looks him up. Richard -- whose b.f./manager, Joseph (Allan Corduner), is in NYC, depressed after the death of his dog -- takes this as an offer and seduces the boy in a scene that could easily have been risible but is, in fact, well-paced and played. When Pamela is mugged and Richard comes to her rescue, the three start hanging out together.

But Mom also fancies Richard. And when she turns up at his hotel room to seduce him -- another good scene -- she finds a pair of Paul's shorts in the bathroom. Six months later, back in the U.S., Paul is realizing that he's not the great musician his mother took him to be. He runs into Joseph in an elevator and ends up being seduced by him; Pamela, meanwhile, discovers a signed photo of Richard among Paul's things and realizes, finally, that her son is gay. Pic's second half focuses on Pamela's difficult adjustment to this new reality -- a dangerous switch dramatically, but one that works. Instead of just one more gay rites-of-passage movie, we get two: Paul's awakening to the realities of his life is echoed by his mother's, with both reflecting back on the other.

Script is full of the accidents and coincidences of a Shakespearean comedy -- hence the title -- but because it is rooted in accurately observed psychology, it's believable. It is most successful in its skillful negotiation of a variety of moods -- from the drama of Paul's emotional and professional disappointments to outright comedy, most of it centering on Stevenson.

One excellent example is a meeting of the Gay Sons Society that Paul's mom attends. The scene lends itself to a savage satire on the hypocrisies of a society that finds it hard combining liberal values with traditional morality, but the script is always even-handed.

Stevenson is standout, walking a tightrope between parody and plausibility, and by the end she has become pic's emotional center.

Likewise, Rhys and Corduner are smart enough to retain auds' sympathy, despite some pretty foul behavior from their characters. Pic's main fault is Pons' penchant for neatness and good taste at all times, leaving the viewer wanting a few more rough edges, and a little more passion and bite.
Score consists mainly of a series of well-chosen classical pieces.
 

Jonathan Holland

VARIETY

FUNEREAL IN BERLIN

... Far more amusing is Spanish maestro Ventura Pons' gay comedy of manners, Food of Love. It's a genuine art-house charmer that plots a romance between a brilliant concert pianist, Kennington (Paul Rhys), and his hunky teenage page-turner (Kevin Bishop). Kennington courts the young acolyte under his mother's considerable nose on a concert tour of Europe. Juliet Stevenson is hysterical as Bishop's clueless mother. But the real drama is never quite knowing who seduces whom. Bishop is the eyes and ears of the movie, but Rhys delivers a haunting performance: melancholic, prickly, cruel, and surprisingly comic. His jealous manager, Allan Corduner, plays a subtle and cynical game to prise the lovers apart. His is a character that could so easily run to camp, but Corduner keeps the touching manipulator spry and sharp."

James Cristhoper

TIMES

With the undoubted help of those exceptional actors and with a sensivity of "mise en scene" as well as with a narrative transparence which is hard to find among directors throughout the world, including just a few Spaniards, Ventura Pons achieves a truthful and convincing story and a perfect balance between distance and passion…. This unique filmmaker makes someone else’s story perfectly his own, satisfying himself, as a creator and probably as an individual too, with great respect and stimulation for the spectator’s own intelligence.

Alberto Bermejo

EL MUNDO

Prodigious "Tour de Force"

Once again Ventura Pons makes someone else’s material – David Leavitt’s novel "The Page Turner" – his own. In this admirably constructed and narrated film there’s some risk on the edge of conventions and moralist or militant temptations – it’s style in the realm of noble melodrama.

Lluis Benet

La Vanguardia

A double conflict of generations which Pons makes passionate through his ability to focus on a succession of intensely dramatic scenes, filmed with an admirable respect for truth and intimacy in his characters.

Anotnio Weinrichter

ABC

"Food of Love" is an intriguing portrait of a couple (mother and son), where the helplessness of both is shown through their brave attitude in taking up their lives rather than being lived by it. This attitude prevents the film from moralities and false clichés in the gay world – even positive ones: here more or less everyone cheats one everyone else they way they can. All these elements give the film intense and enriching contradictory sensations and makes it a sure recommendation for intelligent spectators.

Mirito Torreroi

El País

A universal story, close to the heart of anyone who has ever loved, cried or suffered.

Ventura Pons returns with a film that is as personal as the rest of his filmography. Faithful to his way of telling stories and making movies, Ventura Pons creates a minimalist and concise portrait, where the characters – always truthful and close – meet to fall apart and stand up face to face in reduced spaces, unfolding without chastity common feelings. And therefore Ventura Pons’ films are universal… they are stories about emotions, very close to the heart of anyone that has ever loved, suffered or cried.

Jorge Castillejo

LEVANTE (VALENCIA)

In his latest feature Ventura Pons once again confirms the maturity and moral aesthetic of a cineast who delights us with a new film each year, which in some way comes to complement or sharpen notes, reflections or considerations which belong to his own universe beyond the literary or theatrical origin of the stories, which come from a variety of authors.

Antoni Llorens

Cartelera Turia

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