With his highly-acclaimed play/film She Has A Name continuing to wield international impact, Red Deer native Andrew Kooman is excited about kudos already coming his way for his latest script.
Delft Blue has been named a semi-finalist for the Filmmatic Screenplay Contest in Los Angeles.
It’s also been named an official selection of the Top Indie Film Awards for 2019.
“That one is an online festival and competition. She Has A Name received eight nominations at the Top Indies, and it won five awards, so it’s really exciting to be recognized by them again,” he said.
For Delft Blue, Kooman has also penned scripts for the stage and the screen.
“It’s good to see the script start getting attention even before it’s produced in any way,” he said during a recent interview. “These are the first two festivals that I’ve submitted it to and they’ve both received it very warmly, so that encourages me as a writer and I think it bodes well for future productions. It gives a sense that there is really something to this story.”
Kooman has pointed out that Delft Blue is a kind of ‘origin’ story for him – “A way to imagine some of the unthinkable challenges families faced during the horrible days of Nazi occupation in Holland and what faith and resistance meant and required.
“It’s the kind of story my family and so many other families who immigrated after the war can relate to.
“It’s really loosely based on stories that I learned from the war from my family. Like many Canadians and Central Albertans, some of our roots are in Holland,” he said. “I was interested in family history, so I learned some stories and was amazed by them and incorporated a few of those threads into the script,” he said.
“It’s the story of two best friends who are police officers who end up on opposite sides of the war. The Nazis came in and after they occupied Holland, the Dutch put up a really surprising resistance for a few short days and then the Nazis took control,” he said. “They used the Dutch police force to continue to police Dutch citizens.
“So the story imagines what it might be like to not only be occupied, but also to be put in a position to have to enforce Nazi law,” he said, adding that when things were looking like the Nazis would win the war, it proved a gamble for people in terms of what side they chose.
“It has some clear moral questions, but there is a lot of gray in the script about imagining what you would do in a circumstance like this.
“For me, it’s the story of one family doing its best to make sense of the times, to fight the good fight of faith and to survive with their faith and their sense of what is right intact. It’s a family drama that asks some really interesting questions where there is also a lot at stake.
“I love war stories, and stories of heroism. And seeing someone in the text or onscreen that you can relate to is always something meaningful to me. So to inhabit those characters and explore these themes was very meaningful.”
She Has A Name, which is about a human trafficking incident in Thailand, was initially a stage production as well that was later, as mentioned, developed into a critically-acclaimed film released in late 2016.
The film focused on an investigation into a shocking human trafficking incident in southeast Asia and explored the layers of corruption that enabled the global commercial sex trade to thrive, at the expense of young girls’ and women’s futures.
For Kooman, the craft of penning plays, and seeing them staged and sometimes even developed into tremendous, powerful films, is a continually compelling experience.
“I’m drawn to stories, and to writing stories and telling stories that really matter that explore something we might not have known before, or that we might have questions about. That’s really what drives me.
“And to have that connection with an audience – it’s really to come together and explore ideas together which is powerful. I’m also drawn to other people’s stories – I watch a lot of films and I read a lot of books. I want to participate in that and I think there is so much value and meaning in that, on a cultural level and a personal level.”
For more, check out www.andrewkooman.com or www.unveilstudios.com.