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Entries in interview (181)

Tuesday
Nov292016

Interview: Maria Schrader on Directing Austrian Oscar Submission 'Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe'

By Jose Solis


Two years after The Grand Budapest Hotel put Stefan Zweig’s writing at the center of the Oscar race, the author himself now is the protagonist of Austria’s submission Stefan Zweig: Farewell to Europe. Directed by Maria Schrader, the film focuses on Zweig’s exile in South America after fleeing Nazi Germany in the mid-1930s, played with gravitas by Josef Hader, Zweig becomes one of the most powerful male characters of the year, in a performance that works on an intellectual as well as visceral level. Audiences who only know Schrader from her acting work, in films like Aimee & Jaguar, will be caught off guard by her elegant sense of framing, her impeccable pacing and the way she engages the viewer by avoiding going into any biopic stereotypes. I spoke to her about making the film, working with Hader, and what an Oscar nomination could mean for the film.

JOSE: This was a very hard movie to watch after the American election.


MARIA SCHRADER: Should I take that as a compliment?

JOSE: Yes!

MARIA SCHRADER: (Laughs)

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Monday
Nov282016

Interview: Director David Schurmann on How 'Little Secret' Became Brazil's Oscar Submission


Jose
here. After a complicated, slightly controversial, submission process that saw several filmmakers remove their name from consideration, Brazil selected David Schurmann’s Little Secret as the film that would represent them at the 2016 Academy Awards. The real life drama is based on the life of Schurmann’s adoptive little sister, who went from anonymity to becoming one of the most notorious people in Brazil. Needless to say so this means that it takes an easy Google search to find out where the film goes and how some plot twists end (i.e. spoilers await). This is Schurmann’s first feature film, but not the first time he’s featured stories about his family in his work. The Schurmanns are famous in Brazil for their maritime adventures, as well as their books and documentaries. I spoke to David about working so close to his family, adding dramatic turns to reality and being part of the Oscar race.

So, here’s another less subtle spoiler warning before the full interview...

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Friday
Nov252016

Interview: Director Boo Junfeng on Why He Focused on Empathy in Singaporean Oscar Submission 'Apprentice' 

Jose here. Boo Junfeng’s harrowing drama Apprentice focuses on the fascination a young prison officer (Firdaus Rahman) develops with the Chief Executioner (Wan Hanafi Su) who becomes his mentor. Besides the unique professional bond they share, there’s also a secret about their past that lingers over their relationship. This is only Junfeng’s second feature film, and he displays the storytelling confidence of veterans. Despite the film dealing with capital punishment it’s not a film about this, but rather a complex character study which invites us to wonder why so many people make choices we wouldn’t do in a million years. The film which Nathaniel reviewed at TIFF, is Singapore’s official Oscar submission, so I spoke to Junfeng about creating the characters, casting the actors and why it’s important we watch films about dislikable characters.

Read the interview after the jump.

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Wednesday
Nov232016

Interview: José Luis Rugeles on Shooting Colombian Oscar Submission 'Alias Maria" Deep in the Jungle


Jose
here. Alias Maria takes place deep inside the Colombian jungle, where we meet a group of guerrillas, many of which are children. One of them is Maria (Karen Torres), a young woman who despite her obedience to their leaders questions their double standards, she wonders why women aren’t allowed privileges men are, especially when it comes to choices over their bodies. Then one day Maria is given a task that tests her loyalty and sends her deep into the unknown. The film, which introduces audiences to a world they know merely through the news, premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it was greeted warmly. Since then, the film has attained more relevance as Colombians rejected a peace deal with the FARC over the fall. The film was selected as Colombia’s submission for the Oscars, and I spoke to director José Luis Rugeles about the casting methods he used, the pros and cons of shooting in the jungle, and introducing film to potential new artists.

Read the interview after the jump.

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Friday
Oct212016

Interview: 'Fire at Sea' Director Gianfranco Rosi on Blurring the Line Between Documentaries and Fiction

Jose here. Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea, takes a look at the migrant crisis with completely new eyes. He creates a parallel narrative in which the dangerous journeys of migrants trying to arrive in Europe seem to go almost unnoticed by the people of the island of Lampedusa, where many of them meet their fates. The island vignettes, which pay tribute to the Sicilian lifestyle, mainly focus on the misadventures of Samuele, a little boy who spends his days playing with his slingshot, worrying about diseases he’s much too young to have, and admiring the sea, perhaps unaware of the nightmare it represents to the migrants’ struggle. Rosi doesn’t create a story of ironic contrast, instead he offers a snapshot of the world we live in, and invites us to reexamine our role in the world. The documentary won the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival where Jury President Meryl Streep called it “urgent, necessary filmmaking”, it also went on to be selected as Italy’s entry for the Foreign Film Oscar.

As the film opens in New York, I sat down with Rosi to talk about his views on documentaries, storytelling and how the worlds of his films are interconnected.


JOSE: You spend years working on your films and shooting. How do you know when you have a story?

GIANFRANCO ROSI: When I start the film I never know which story I’ll end up doing. I start from something a very simple structure, there’s an island, migrants, this is what happens when migrants arrive, this is where they come from. I have a geometrical idea of what’s going on - when I have this idea of the place I look for elements and people who will become my protagonists...

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Wednesday
Sep142016

Interview: Chris Kelly on "Other People", favorite actresses, and the best NYC party he’s ever been to

by Murtada

You may be familiar with Chris Kelly from his work as a writer on Broad City and Saturday Night Live. Other People marks his feature debut as a writer and director, it premiered earlier this year at Sundance, creating awards buzz for Molly Shannon's supporting performance. A semi autobiographical story, the film is about a struggling comedy writer (Jesse Plemons),who moves back home to help his sick mother (Shannon) who’s in the final stages of cancer. Living with his conservative father (Bradley Whitford) and younger sisters (Maude Apatow and Madisen Beaty), David feels like a stranger in his childhood home. He is supported by his ex (Zach Woods) and best friend (John Early) as his mother worsens, all the while trying to convince everyone, including himself, that he’s “doing okay". Other People is a an assured and funny debut that goes deep into familial relationships and comes up potent in its depiction of grief, gay friendships and what it means to be a good son and brother.

Our conversation with Kelly is after the jump:

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Friday
Aug122016

Interview: Paulina García on Her Favorite Actresses and the Political Relevance of 'Little Men'

by Jose Solis



Audiences fell in love with Paulina García as the romantic heroine in Gloria, the Chilean sensation that won her the Best Actress award at the 2013 Berlin Film Festival and other honors along the way (including a nomination here). In that film she gave a delightful performance as a woman ready to find purpose in a life that others thought had lost all meaning. Where in Gloria she exuded a sincere need of approval and warmth, Leonor, her character in Ira Sachs’ Little Men is just the opposite. She’s a woman in full control of her emotions and moods, she seems a little bit too calculating to Brian (Greg Kinnear) who has just inherited a house from his late father Max, from whom Leonor rented a commercial space, and finds himself in the position of having to raise her rent. She’s also intimidating to her son Tony (Michael Barbieri) who lowers his head when asking her for permission to go hang out with his new friend Jake (Theo Taplitz) who happens to be Brian’s son.

But in García’s richly layered performance we see a woman on the edge, she’s about to lose everything she’s worked her entire life for and she refuses to go down without a battle. García is the kind of actor who is eloquent even when she’s not speaking, one of her glances can be more devastating than a Shakespearean soliloquy, a simple “no” from Leonor can contain an entire life history. I had the opportunity to speak to her from her home in Chile, to discuss her work with Sachs, actresses she loves, and why Leonor is such an important character for 2016...

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