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Tribeca Film Festival: Harmony Korine x Val Kilmer

Ahead of the premiere screening of 'The Fourth Dimension' this week, the controversial director shares a few exclusive Behind-the-Scenes images with Dazed Digital

Val Kilmer has never looked worse. Overweight, long straggly hair peeking out underneath a baseball cap, wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt tucked into baggy shorts, he’s a far cry from the devilish heartthrob whom women swooned over in ‘Heat’ and ‘Batman’. With a daring lack of vanity, he plays a motivational speaker (also named Val Kilmer) doling out advice in a Nashville skating rink in the new short film from the idiosyncratic indie-film director, Harmony Korine. The film forms part of a collaboration with two other directors, Alexey Fedorchenko and Jan Kwiecinski made under the brief of ‘The 4th Dimension’. Dazed got on the phone with Korine to find out what it was all about.

I’d seen pictures of him [Val Kilmer] wearing a beret and a ponytail with a safari shirt and I started imagining him giving advice to hard luck cases and that’s how it happened

Dazed Digital: How did you get involved with Grolsch Films and Vice?
Harmony Korine: I’ve known Vice for a long time. Eddie Moretti (producer) is a friend of mine. We’ve always talked about doing a project together. Then he came to me and said he had this thing with Vice where they were going to finance this film and there were going to be these rules. It sounded like fun and that you could play around and experiment with it and it was a chance to work with these guys.

DD: You previously made Julien Donkey Boy under the structure of Dogme95 – did you find it liberating to work under strict rules again?
Harmony Korine: This is a different thing. Dogme95 is more like church. There was a big difference but I always enjoy rules.

DD: What was the starting point for this film?
Harmony Korine: Well for me, a 30 minute piece is an awkward amount of time – it’s too long to be a short film and too short to be a regular movie so I started to conceptualise something that worked to its own logic in length which is when I came up with a monologue piece. And then I thought who would I want to be speaking the piece and I thought of Val Kilmer…

DD: What was the thinking behind casting him as a motivational speaker called Val Kilmer?
Harmony Korine: I dunno, because he always seemed like a motivational speaker! I think he’s a great actor and a misunderstood character. I think he’s a real talent and eccentric. I’d seen pictures of him wearing a beret and a ponytail with a safari shirt and I started imagining him giving advice to hard luck cases and that’s how it happened.

DD: And was he a composite of people you knew or did it come out of your imagination?
Harmony Korine: Yeah most of it came out of my imagination. I had a librarian who died in a sky diving accident whom a lot of it is based on. He was a bastard – he used to censor the books we read at school.

DD: He seems like a trickster...but the scenes with him riding around with his girlfriend seem to show a softer, more genuine side to him. What draws you to create these characters?
Harmony Korine: I thought it would be funny seeing him ride this BMX around town, playing violent video games and giving terrible advice. I don’t know where these characters come from – I just invent them because I want to see them.

DD: You’ve talked in the past about how your films are like mistakist art – accidents fill in the form. Were there any such accidents making this film?
Harmony Korine: Lots of it. I always said mistakism is like throwing a bomb and then documenting the explosion. It felt like that a lot of times. Having Val’s character just ride around and meet these people. The scene where he sees these guys on the side of the road – one of them had just escaped from robbing a bank on a BMX and the other is a murderer. The older guy had 17 kids and Val took a liking to him and helped reunite this guy with his kids.

DD: Your next film ‘Spring Breakers’ casts these Disney actresses like Selena Gomez and Vanessa Hudgens alongside James Franco in cornrows. What can you tell us about it?
Harmony Korine: I can’t say too much – I’m still making it. This one is very special though. It’s going to surprise a lot of people. This is going to blow some people’s minds.

DD: Are you comfortable with this enfant terrible status?
Harmony Korine: I honestly don’t even think about stuff like that. It’s all meant to be as it is. I just live it and I love it.  I just light it up and suck it down. I live away from everything so I don’t really have a concept of self in that way. I just do what I do.

DD: When you saw the finished film with the other short films,  did you see how it all fit together?
Harmony Korine: It was weird – it was like putting on two pairs of mismatched socks but somehow it fit together. It felt good. It felt like old socks.

DD: What’s your idea of the 4th dimension?
Harmony Korine: Val Kilmer! (laughs)

‘The 4th Dimension’ screens at Tribeca Film Festival this week.