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Berlinale Film Festival | 2019 

Steven Wouterlood 

My Extraordinary Summer with Tess
Mijn bijzonder rare week met Tess




MY EXTRAORDINARY SUMMER WITH TESS cheerfully tells the story of two unique kids, Sam and Tess, as they each explore their first steps into young adulthood. They are confronted with complex questions about life, family, friendship and the emotions that follow – an unexpected adventure set in the summery lightness of an island holiday. 


Hi Steven thanks for talking to TNC, you all set for the festival?

It’s a pleasure! Yes, I’m totally ready 


With a festival like the Berlinale do you ever get nervous ahead of your screening?

Positively nervous, yes. Especially because it’s my first feature film. But I can’t wait to show the film to a big audience! 


As this is your World Premiere are there any additional pressure on you?

We are already receiving a lot of attention from the press, in my home country and international too. The famous magazine Variety just chose me as one of the ’10 Europeans to watch’. That’s a huge honour! So yes, I feel the pressure, but in a positive way! 


My Extraordinary Summer with Tess is nominated for the Crystal Bear, what does it mean to you to get this type of recognition for your film?

I’m extremely honoured. The Berlinale is the number one festival for family movies. It’s like a dream come true that we’ll have our world premiere here.  


Can you tell me a little bit about My Extraordinary Summer with Tess, how did this project come about?

After finishing short movies and a tv series, me and my producer Joram Willink felt I was definitely ready for my first feature film. At that moment my aunt recommended me the novel Mijn bijzonder rare week met Tess (My Extraordinary Summer with Tess) and I fell in love with the story. We immediately knew: this must be the story for my feature debut. 


What was it about Anna Woltz novel that first interested you as a director?

I find it to be a heart-warming narrative with a wonderful mix of excitement, emotion and humour. It’s no surprise that it is a book that has many avid readers in many countries. From all kinds of perspectives, the story is close to my heart and I recognise a lot of myself in the sensitive Sam, the 10-year old principal character. 

"I hope this movie will inspire kids and adults to follow their dreams and grab life."

Was this the first time you’ve adapted a novel into a film?


Earlier I directed the tv series Remi, Nobody’s Boy based on the famous novel Sans Famille by Hector Malot. So no, it’s not my first adaptation. But for My Extraordinary Summer with Tess I was part of the writing process from the early beginning. 


What was the most challenging part of bringing this film to life?


There are so many challenging parts during the production process, thousands of decisions you have to make. That can be very stressful sometimes. Working with children actors means a limited amount of shooting days; that’s another big challenge. And shooting a movie during the summer on a touristic holiday destination, the beautiful island Terschelling, brings a lot of challenges too.


Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?

Yes, it started when I was a little boy when I grabbed the video camera of my grandma and made my own tv shows. This love for filmmaking grew over the years. 


Has your approach to your films changed much since your debut?


I don’t understand the question? My Extraordinary Summer with Tess is my debut and I just finished this film a few weeks ago. 

"This love for filmmaking grew over the years."


How important is the collaborative process on a project like this?


Super important! As a director, you are working with so many people. They have to believe in the project and everyone is connected to each other. And this is my first international co-production by the way. It’s a co-production between The Netherlands (BIND) and Germany (Ostlicht). Beautiful cooperation, I would say. 


What are you currently working on?

I have a lot of ideas for new films, but no concrete project at the moment. I just finished this movie a few weeks ago, so I like to relax a bit, enjoy the film festival and see what comes! 


And finally, what do you hope people will take away from My Extraordinary Summer with Tess?

My films are about universal themes, recognisable and close to everybody’s lives, seen through the eyes of a growing child. 

I hope this movie will inspire kids and adults to follow their dreams and grab life. 

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