You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Roskam: Weaves thriller from ‘hormone mafia’ controversy

10 Directors to Watch 2012: Michael R. Roskam

Age: 38
Homebase: Brussels, Belgium
Inspired by: Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Francois Truffaut, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sam Peckinpah.
Reps: Agents: Ramses IsHak, Michael Sheresky (UTA); Managers: Keith Redmon, Luke Rivett (Anonymous Content)

At first glance, the plot of writer-director Michael R. Roskam’s debut film “Bullhead” seems too Belgium-specific to have widespread international appeal: A Limburg cattle farmer (Matthias Schoenaerts) gets mixed up with West Flemish beef traders in a criminal underground dealing in illegal growth hormones.

“In our country, this whole hormone mafia thing was a huge issue,” Roskam explains. “People abroad are like, ‘Is this real?’?”

But by taking the hormone controversy, infusing it with American crime film conventions and using it as a vehicle to explore the lingering adult aftermath of childhood sexual abuse, Roskam has created a work with global appeal, earning more than a dozen international awards since its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival last February. In September, “Bullhead” was chosen as the Belgian submission for the foreign-language film Oscar.

“Sometimes you find yourself smiling and daydreaming out the window about what it could be, and then it becomes this, and it’s marvelous,” gushes Roskam, who holds master’s degrees in painting (St. Lukas Academy of Fine Arts, 1997) and screenwriting (Binger Film Lab, 2005). The director initially came up with the idea for “Bullhead” in 2004, and he kept rewriting the script right up until he secured the financing to go into production in autumn 2009.

Many of his key collaborators on the movie — including star Schoenaerts, cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis, composer Raf Keunen, editor Alain Dessauvage and producer Bart Van Langendonck — worked with him previously on his short films.

“You can tell I like to see us as a band making movies,” he says. “If one day I can make a movie in the U.S., I hope I can bring them along, too.”

Roskam says he’s already had meetings with more than three dozen people in Hollywood, and he’s coming back for more this month.

“I’m working on two scripts,” Roskam says. “One, I’m writing myself, which is set in Brussels, so if development hell sets in America, I’ll just make a movie in Belgium. In the meantime, I have this great idea for an American movie, and I would like to develop it and co-write it with an American screenwriter.”

10 Directors to Watch
Zal Batmanglij |

Valerie Donzelli | Gareth Evans | Philippe Falardeau | Mike ‘Mouse’ McCoy & Scott Waugh | Gerardo Naranjo | Matt Piedmont | Michael R. Roskam | Lynn Shelton | Benh Zeitlin

More Film

  • Parity pledge 2018

    San Sebastian Festival Signs Gender Parity Pledge

    Age: 38 Homebase: Brussels, BelgiumInspired by: Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Francois Truffaut, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sam Peckinpah.Reps: Agents: Ramses IsHak, Michael Sheresky (UTA); Managers: Keith Redmon, Luke Rivett (Anonymous Content) At first glance, the plot of writer-director Michael R. Roskam’s debut film “Bullhead” seems too […]

  • Danny DeVito'Donostia Award' photocall, 66th San

    Danny DeVito Receives San Sebastian Donostia Award

    Age: 38 Homebase: Brussels, BelgiumInspired by: Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Francois Truffaut, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sam Peckinpah.Reps: Agents: Ramses IsHak, Michael Sheresky (UTA); Managers: Keith Redmon, Luke Rivett (Anonymous Content) At first glance, the plot of writer-director Michael R. Roskam’s debut film “Bullhead” seems too […]

  • M-appeal Closes Sales On Pair of

    M-appeal Closes Sales on Pair of San Sebastian Titles (EXCLUSIVE)

    Age: 38 Homebase: Brussels, BelgiumInspired by: Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Francois Truffaut, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sam Peckinpah.Reps: Agents: Ramses IsHak, Michael Sheresky (UTA); Managers: Keith Redmon, Luke Rivett (Anonymous Content) At first glance, the plot of writer-director Michael R. Roskam’s debut film “Bullhead” seems too […]

  • Hirokazu Kore-eda on ‘Shoplifters’ Polemics, Shooting

    Hirokazu Kore-eda on ‘Shoplifters’ Polemics, Shooting in France

    Age: 38 Homebase: Brussels, BelgiumInspired by: Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Francois Truffaut, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sam Peckinpah.Reps: Agents: Ramses IsHak, Michael Sheresky (UTA); Managers: Keith Redmon, Luke Rivett (Anonymous Content) At first glance, the plot of writer-director Michael R. Roskam’s debut film “Bullhead” seems too […]

  • San Sebastian: Natalia Meschaninova On ‘Core

    San Sebastian: Natalia Meschaninova on ‘Core of the World,’ Inhibited Masculinity

    Age: 38 Homebase: Brussels, BelgiumInspired by: Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Francois Truffaut, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sam Peckinpah.Reps: Agents: Ramses IsHak, Michael Sheresky (UTA); Managers: Keith Redmon, Luke Rivett (Anonymous Content) At first glance, the plot of writer-director Michael R. Roskam’s debut film “Bullhead” seems too […]

  • EU flagsEU flags outside the European

    Creative Europe’s Media Program: 5 Pointers to its Future

    Age: 38 Homebase: Brussels, BelgiumInspired by: Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Francois Truffaut, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sam Peckinpah.Reps: Agents: Ramses IsHak, Michael Sheresky (UTA); Managers: Keith Redmon, Luke Rivett (Anonymous Content) At first glance, the plot of writer-director Michael R. Roskam’s debut film “Bullhead” seems too […]

  • Gustavo Hernández, Mother Superior Remake ‘Big

    Gustavo Hernandez, Ignacio Cucucovich’s Mother Superior To Remake ‘Big Bad Wolves’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    Age: 38 Homebase: Brussels, BelgiumInspired by: Martin Scorsese, the Coen Brothers, Akira Kurosawa, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Francois Truffaut, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sam Peckinpah.Reps: Agents: Ramses IsHak, Michael Sheresky (UTA); Managers: Keith Redmon, Luke Rivett (Anonymous Content) At first glance, the plot of writer-director Michael R. Roskam’s debut film “Bullhead” seems too […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content