Private Project

HIgh Grounds

Starring acclaimed actors Lou Castel ("Fists in the Pockets" M. Bellochio, "Beware of a Holy whore" R.W. Fasssbinder), Maia Morgenstern ("The Passion of the Christ" M.Gibson, "Ulysse's Gaze" T. Angelopoulos) and Tudor Aaron Istodor, "High Grounds" tells the story of a young Romanian doctor. Emil Petrescu leaves Romania to take over a retiring doctor’s medical practice in the Belgian countryside. He moves in a region barely surviving a crumbling economy. During the winter, a meteorite disintegrates in the sky, a phenomenon that will leave a lonely old man mute. The young doctor is called to his aid.

  • van der Haegen Jeremy
  • van der Haegen Jeremy
  • Bodinaux Aurélien Néon Rouge Production
  • Lou Castel
    Key Cast
  • Tudor Aaron Istodor
    Key Cast
  • Maia Morgenstern
    Key Cast
  • Rincon Gille Nicolas
    Photo Op
  • Huber Aline
  • vandecasteele Thomas
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    29 minutes 50 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    October 5, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    100,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
    Belgium, Romania
  • Language:
    French, Romanian
  • Shooting Format:
    16 mm
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Néon Rouge Production
    Country: Belgium
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - van der Haegen Jeremy

Jérémy van der Haegen (b. 1979, Brussels) is a film director. He grew up in Paris, studied in Brussels and currently resides in Berlin. After finishing a degree in Philosophy at the Brussels Free University (ULB), Jeremy was admitted to the Belgian National Film School (INSAS), where he graduated in 2004. He began his film career making documentaries. Notably, he co-directed "Nord", a feature-length documentary (in partnership with the Brussels Video Center). Fiction came next, with Jérémy writing and directing his first medium-length film, "The Illuminated Boy" (produced by Néon Rouge). Featured in several international film competitions, "The Illuminated Boy" was eventually purchased and recently broadcast by ARTE France for France, Germany and Belgium. At the same time, Jérémy founded his own not-for-profit production studio, After Hours asbl, which co-produces his films and where he works as a videographer and collaborates with stage artists. "High Grounds" is his second short movie, in which he directed internationally acclaimed actors Lou Castel, Maia Morgenstern and Tudor Aaron Istodor.
Jérémy’s work aims at exploring the porous boundary between interior and exterior worlds: reality and fiction, dreams and consciousness, objectivity and subjectivity, past and present. A Friedrich Hölderlin passage serves as a fitting motto: “Where there lies peril also grows a saving power.” Jérémy portrays individuals in a difficult search of harmony and seek to capture a moment, albeit fleeting, of self-discovery. You can find a summary of Jérémy’s work on his website,

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Director Statement

"High Grounds" was born out of a desire to bring together two normally opposed universes: social realism, styled through a coming-of-age story, and fantasy film, which puts existence into question; two plotlines, one clear, the other obscure.

Thus, a bildungsroman in part. My intention was to offer the portrait of a young rural doctor and interrogate notions of vocation and social responsibility at a crucial age when we find our place in society through work. Current events helped spark my inspiration for my main character: Western European rural zones are seeing an entire generation of doctors beginning to retire without anyone to replace them, the younger generation of doctors preferring to work in urban centers. Called in to take over abandoned medical practices, foreign doctors, immigrants from poorer countries hoping for visas, help ensure a measure of continuity.
My film also borders on fantasy, a genre at the core of my cinematographic stylings. I am still amazed by the images of a meteorite that disintegrated above the Urals in Russia during the winter in 2013. What interested me in this film was to explore the fallout of just such an episode but on an intimate level. I was interested in how it may reveal something unearthly. Ripping through the sky, a meteorite opens a breach in reality. It also becomes an outlet for our most fundamental anxieties: fear of death and an attraction towards Nothingness, sentiments that animate my characters. As a work of near-fantasy, High Grounds offers a metaphor for the angst intrinsically linked to the human condition.

An exceptional event acts as a catalyst in my film, which crystalizes stakes in a disintegrating world. By imposing a cosmic disturbance onto a rural setting, my aim was to tell a parable underscored by the isolation and roughness of life in a deserted countryside. Beyond this dark ambition, "High Grounds" localizes hope. A soft and human form of resistance inheres in Emil Petrescu: a young man learning to care for those fragile individuals relegated to society’s margins. He is at the crossroads of old, new and future worlds.