LOST BOYS: On Monday evening at the close of London Collections: Men, Jefferson Hack, founder of Dazed Media, hosted the premiere of “Naked Heartland” at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. This debut short film by Belgian photographer Willy Vanderperre centers on three teenagers growing up in a small village in the Bible Belt of Flanders. They embody a “lost generation” – isolated save the virtual world of social media. We meet them in the run up to a retreat to the Belgian flatlands or “Polders” where they meet a terrible end.
The film drew obvious parallels with the teen massacre by Anders Breivik on the Norwegian island of Utoya back in 2011. “Some events you forget about over the years and some have a lasting impression,” Vanderperre observed during a talk after the screening, “It’s shocking how innocence can be stolen without any pretext.”
It is also a more personal treatise, revealed the director who grew up in Belgium under similar circumstances to his young protagonists, attending religious retreats at around 8 and 17. For him, the film represents a discourse on today’s culture of social media. “Everything has to be fast to get as many likes as you can, but emotions are repressed,” he says. “Kids are isolated, so belonging is something that only exists in a virtual world; they are slaves to technology.”
“I’ve worked with Willy for many years as a fashion photographer; it’s remarkable the way he references youth and subculture,” said Hack, revealing he was “absolutely blown away with the quality of the filmmaking, the visual artistry, the acting and the cinematography and the storytelling.”