Hotel Swooni poster detail

A chic hotel in Belgium is home to a variety of unsettling drama in director Kaat Beels’ film Hotel Swooni. The wealthy (and those who dream of its spoils) head here to get away from their troubles, but not all the hotel’s guests are in that fortunate situation.

Described as a mosaic film, a sweltering heat wave sets the tone for Hotel Swooni’s central theme: yearning. Yearning connects the assorted characters. At first, they have little in common with one another, but by the film’s end, they’ve been woven in and out of each other’s lives and will never be the same again.

Hotel Swooni image

The bottled-up emotions come to the surface in this featured Women in Film Festival screening on Saturday evening, March 10.

Hotel Swooni image

I had the chance to ask director Kaat Beels a few questions regarding Hotel Swooni, her first long feature film.

Q: How did you choose the location to film the hotel?

A: We did not have a budget to build rooms in studio so we looked for the most beautiful hotel in Brussels. We filmed in the hotel lobby, one of the hotel the rooms,  and the rooftop terrace, which we decorated ourselves. For me, it was important the hotel was very classy and had a kind of timeless look.

Q: What inspired you to base a film around life in a hotel and what were its greatest filming challenges

A: Because of the mosaic structure, it was very important for me that there was an arena where the lives of all the characters crossed; a hotel was a perfect place where they could all meet. I have always found hotels very inspiring places because behind every door you find other stories and different lives. Also the hotel was a kind of huis clos (a French term meaning in camera, and a reference to Jean-Paul Satre’s No Exit), which matched well with the mood of my characters as they are all caught up in one life while they dream of having another. 

The greatest challenge of filming in one location is having to create a mise en scène or visual theme that has enough drive and rhythm to avoid being a boring and static movie.

Q: How did the audience receive the film at last year’s Toronto Film Festival?

A: TIFF was a wonderful experience. The audience was great and we had a very interesting Q&A from the crowd. 

Hotel Swooni
Venue: Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour Street, Vancouver
Date: Saturday, March 10, 9 pm
Tickets: Available online

Images courtesy of Women in Film Festival.

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