March 2019 Filmmaker Interviews

Read interviews with top new filmmakers from around the world.

Interviews conducted by Matthew Toffolo

 Interview with Filmmaker Michael Davis (HINDSIGHT)
https://matthewtoffolo.com/2019/02/26/interview-with-filmmaker-michael-davis-hindsight/
 

Interview with Filmmaker Katie Garibaldi (STAR IN THE EAST)
https://matthewtoffolo.com/2019/02/26/interview-with-filmmaker-katie-garibaldi-star-in-the-east/
 

Interview with Writer/Actor/Producer Judith Eisenberg (THE SECRET LIVES OF TEACHERS)
https://matthewtoffolo.com/2019/02/26/interview-with-judith-eisenberg/

 

Interview with Filmmaker Cameron Kostopoulos (PERSON(A))
https://matthewtoffolo.com/2019/02/26/interview-with-filmmaker-cameron-kostopoulos-persona/
 —

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Best Filmmaker Interviews of January 2019

Interview with Filmmaker Kaue Nunes Melo (MAXWELL’S DEMON)
Interview with Filmmaker Kaue Nunes Melo (MAXWELL’S DEMON)

Interview with Filmmaker Stephen Featherstone (STOPGAP IN STOP MOTION)
Interview with Filmmaker Stephen Featherstone (STOPGAP IN STOP MOTION)

Interview with Filmmaker Lina Schmeink (Löffel)
Interview with Filmmaker Lina Schmeink (Löffel)

Interview with Filmmaker Kristy Linderholm (Murder in the Cat House)
Interview with Filmmaker Kristy Linderholm (Murder in the Cat House)

Interview with Filmmaker Julia Trofimova (EULOGY FOR DENIS K)
Interview with Filmmaker Julia Trofimova (EULOGY FOR DENIS K)

Interview with Filmmaker George A. Velez (MR. E, P I)
Interview with Filmmaker George A. Velez (MR. E, P I)

Interview with Filmmaker Paul Charisse (UNCLE GRIOT)
Interview with Filmmaker Paul Charisse (UNCLE GRIOT)

Interview with Filmmaker Stéphane Benini (LITEFEET TOKYO)
Interview with Filmmaker Stéphane Benini (LITEFEET TOKYO)

Interview with Filmmaker Alex Fynn (FORMS)
Interview with Filmmaker Alex Fynn (FORMS)

November 2018 – Read the best of Filmmaker Interviews

Interviews by Matthew Toffolo

Touch the link and read 8 different interviews with the best of new filmmakers from around the world.

Dominic McCafferty (BOONDOGGLE)
Interview with Filmmaker Dominic McCafferty (BOONDOGGLE)

Bevin Hamilton & Rachel Murphy (INCALL)
Interview with Filmmakers Bevin Hamilton, Rachael Murphy (INCALL)

Marvin Nuecklaus (CROSSROADS)
Interview with Filmmaker Marvin Nuecklaus (CROSSROADS)

Max Mortl (ISLAND)
Interview with Filmmaker Max Mörtl & Robert Löbel (ISLAND)

Nick Dolinski (CLOUD COVER)
Interview with Filmmaker Nick Dolinski (CLOUD COVER)

Erik Bloomquist (SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS)
Interview with Filmmaker Erik Bloomquist (SHE CAME FROM THE WOODS)

Mark Howling (OBE: THE OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE)
Interview with Filmmaker Mark Howling (O.B.E. THE OUT OF BODY EXPERIENCE)

Andres Passoni (3:32)
Interview with Filmmaker Andres Passoni (3:32)

TIFF Cinematheque Presents – The Films of Kathryn Bigelow

kathryn bigelow.jpgThe TIFF Cinematheque first retrospective on Kathryn Bigelow entitled KATHRYN BIGELOW: ON THE EDGE begins July 21.

Bigelow’s first film was the low-budget debut THE LOVELESS (an arty, hipster spin on ’50s biker movies, co-directed with Monty Montgomery and starring Willem Dafoe)  Following that, she  made her critical (but commercial unsuccessful) breakthrough with NEAR DARK, a grimy yet wickedly stylish tale of a pack of vampires traversing the American Southwest.  This was followed by a slew of films including POINT BREAK, STRANGE DAYS and others culminating with her glorious Oscar winner THE HURT LOCKER.  The retrospective arrives in time with the release of her new film DETROIT.

Bigelow was married to and divorced from director James Cameron.  Their collaboration can be seen in his script of STRANGE DAYS which Bigelow directed.

Bigelow’s best films are NEAR DARK, BLUE STEEL and STRANGE DAYS, all three of which oddly enough, did not do well at the box-office.

In April 2010, Bigelow was named to the Time 100 list of most influential people of the year.

For the complete program of the retrospective with screening dates and times, please check the TIFF website at:

CAPSULE REVIEWS OF SELECTED FILMS:

BLUE STEEL (USA 1990) ****
Directed by Kathryn Boggle

BLUE STEEL is yet a another really awesome Bigelow film that flopped at the box-office.  She wrote this film with Eric Red after their collaboration NEAR DARK and marks another very human emotional script with a female cop character.  Just as Bigelow functions as a female action director BLUE STEEL is set in a man’s world.  Jamie Lee Curtis plays a rookie cop who foils a grocery store hold-hp shooting the robber (Tom Sizemore) who pulls a gun on her.  But she does not notice the robber’s gun stolen by a customer, who turns out to be a psychopath (Ron Silver) who uses the gun on a killing spree around NYC.  Detective Turner (Curtis) engages in a cat-and-mouse game with the killer that consists of a series of actions set-pieces.  The only problem is the sudden appearance of the killer shooting at Turner in a subway station for no reason except to provide the climax for the movie.  Still, this is Bigelow at her exciting best, and BLUE STEEL is an absorbing watch from start to end.  Ron Silver is the creepiest villain I have seen for a long time in a movie.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJTOmShc9E0

NEAR DARK (USA 1987) ***** Top 10
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

NEAR DARK is Kathryn Bigelow’s second and arguably BEST movie feature that mixes the western and vampire horror genres based on a script written by Bigelow and Eric Red.  The story follows a young man, Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) in a small midwestern town who becomes involved with a family of nomadic American vampires.  It all starts one night, when Caleb meets an attractive young drifter named Mae (Jenny Wright).  Just before sunrise, she bites him on the neck and runs off.  The rising sun causes Caleb’s flesh to smoke and burn.  Mae arrives with a group of roaming vampires in an RV and takes him away.  The film plays like a male victim basically in a female victim role which makes sense since Bigelow is a female action director.  NEAR DARK is one action set piece after another, the top two being the bar segment where the vampires terrorize a local biker bar, killing everyone before burning it down followed by a police takedown at a motel.  The only problem with the film is Bigelow’s Hollywood ending where Mae, the vampire becomes human again with the couple living happily ever after.

Trailer:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiYSirEHS5E

ZERO DARK THIRTY (USA 2012) ***1/2

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

ZERO DARK THIRTY (referring to the period of time 30 minutes past midnight) is the story of perhaps the greatest American manhunt in history – the search and capture of Osama Bin Laden.  The story centres on the character of naïve CIA agent who goes by the name of Maya (Jessica Chastain) who supposedly masterminded the discovery of the whereabouts of OBL.  The navy seals were called in to attack the fort with the result of him being killed.  But not after Maya has given out all that she has got.  The script has her undergo the typical coming-of-age growing up to maturity as she accomplishes her goal.  Initially, shocked but accepting the torture by the American military, she gradually grows from soft to hardened in order to get the job done.  Maya finally reaches her angry peak when she confidently says to the Navy Seals, “You go and kill Bin Laden for me,” as if it is her own private vendetta.  The script and director keeps the film moving fast from start to finish keeping the audience’s attention.  The climatic segment of the raid on the fort in the dark of night is brilliantly executed.   

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YxC_JNz5Vbg

Best of Jonathan Demme (1944–2017)

Jonathan DemmeJonathan Demme (1944–2017)

Born: February 22, 1944 in Baldwin, Long Island, New York, USA
Died: April 26, 2017 (age 73) in New York, USA

I was really hooked on movies at a very young age. The Manchurian Candidate (1962), along with Seven Days in May (1964), Fail-Safe (1964) and Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) were this quartet of anarchistic black-and-white American movies, each of which did things that you just didn’t do in American movies, especially in the realm of irreverence toward politics and government institutions and the Army. I was what, 16, it was shocking, it was thrilling and, interestingly, it predated my exposure to the French New Wave so, in a way, this was the American, a certain kind of new wave in American movies.

READ the best of his MOVIES:

The Silence of the Lambs<
1991
dir. by Demme
starring
Jodie Foster
Anthony Hopkins
MOVIE POSTERPHILADELPHIA
1993
dir. Jonathan Demme
Stars:
Tom Hanks
Denzel Washington
Rachel Getting MarriedRachel Getting Married
2008
dir. Demme
Starring
Anne Hathaway

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Interview with director Paul Verhoeven (promoting Golden Globe winning film “ELLE”

elle.jpgAs of this writing, “ELLE” was the winner of 2 Golden Globe Awards (Best Actress, Best Foreign Film), and the lead actress Isabelle Huppert was just nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress. A must see film from a legendary director.

Paul Verhoeven is a director from my childhood. My friends and I used to love watching “Robocop” during out monthly slumber parties. Then “Total Recall” entered our world right at the time we all started getting interested in the supernatural and girls simultaneously. By the time “Basic Instinct” came along, I was a young teenager and let’s just say the movie made a deep impression on me. As I grew from a boy to a young adult, Verhoeven’s film grew with me.

So I have to say that I was a bit nervous meeting him in the staged interview hotel room at TIFF 2016. I had 15 minutes and when Paul walked in you could tell I was going to be around his 50th interview in the last few days and the hotel room backdrop is a very familiar site to him.

For my first question, I wanted to ask him something that was interesting and/or intriguing to him and perhaps a question he was never asked before, or at least not asked while he was promoting “ELLE”.

Matthew Toffolo: What movie have you watched the most times in your life?

Paul sat there motionless for more than a few seconds with his head looking at the ground. I thought I blew it right from the beginning. Then.

Paul Verhoeven: I’m thinking. I’m thinking.

Lawrence of Arabia. North by Northwest. Belle de Jour. Vertigo. Those are the films I keep going back to.

He smiled at me. I smiled at him. Then it was time to do the interview and let him move to the next one.

MT: You seem to balance your films between your European life and your Hollywood life. ELLE seems to strike a nice mixture of both. Was that your initial intention?

PV: Well in Europe, you have more power as a director. In Hollywood, you have more excess and money. Of course you like to have both, but that’s not the case. So yes, we were attempting to make a Hollywood type of film with ELLE using the European format.

MT: I heard your initial intention was to make this an English language film?

PV: Well it’s a French novel. The producer of ELLE, Saïd Ben Saïd, thought it could be an American movie. We went to an American screenwriter and wrote it as an USA movie, based in America. Then we found out that we couldn’t get the right funding. But the real problem was that we couldn’t find an American actress. None of them wanted to do it. From the A list down. They all turned the project down.

MT: Why do you think so many actresses turned down the film?

PV: It’s a different kind of movie. If this was a straight up “revenge” film, then I’m sure many would want the role. But this isn’t a revenge movie. It’s someone more. This is a film about a woman who refuses to be a victim. In fact, even after she discovers who the rapist is, she moves over that.

MT: Was Isabelle Huppert your first choice to play the lead when you decided to……?

PV: No. She was my first choice. She read the book and wanted to do the role. After the “American adventure” was over and I told the producer that we should make this movie in France, he immediately picked up the phone and called Isabelle and she accepted right away. So it was really her to chose me.

MT: There is no straight up genre in this film?

PV: No, there isn’t. This is a film about the discovery of this woman. Who she is. The book is a study of character and that’s the movie we wanted to make. All of her relationships in this movie, from her lover, best friend, her father, her rapist – the construction is about her and what’s around her. If I made this a straight up thriller, then it would deny what this story is all about.

MT: When did you novel read the novel?

PV: It was sent to me by the producer who asked if I wanted to make this into a film. I read it right away and told him “yes”.

MT: How long was it from the time you read the novel to the completed product?

PV: I read it at the Berlin Film Festival in 2015 and we started shooting a year later. The only obstacle was our initial intention to turn this into an English film. That was the only delay. Until I decided it was supposed to be made in French, we got the production rolling in a matter of months.

MT: In the novel she’s a literary agent. In the film, she’s a video game developer. Why the change?

PV: I was trying to find a profession that was more visual. My daughter came up with that. I was talking to my family at the dinner table talking about the film and my youngest daughter, who is a painter, suggested this which of course lead to the themes of the film.

The publicist entered the room and said it was time to go. I really could have chatted with Paul for another hour – but what can you do.

“ELLE” is an exceptional film. One of the best of 2016. I hope you go see it!

_____

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 2 times a month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

Interview with Writer/Director David Bezmozgis (Natasha)

It was a pleasure sitting down with the writer/director of the feature film “Natasha”, which is the opening film for the 24th annual Jewish Film Festival on May 5, 2016.

For tickets and information, go to: http://tjff.com/

David Bezmozgis is an award-winning writer and filmmaker. He is the author of the story collection, Natasha and Other Stories (2004), and the novels, The Free World (2011), and The Betrayers (2014). David’s stories have appeared in numerous publications including The New Yorker, Harpers,  Zoetrope All-Story, and The Walrus. “Natasha” is his 2nd feature film as a director.

Interview with David Bezmozgis:

Matthew Toffolo: The tagline on the film’s poster is “It is the opposite that is good for us.”…

David Bezmozgis: Yes, that’s HERACLITUS. That’s the quote from the novel that’s the basis of the film.

MT: What does it mean?

DB: It’s a contradictory statement. Everyone wants the opposite. The overall theme of the film.

MT: From directing your first film “Victoria Day” to now directing “Natasha”. What is the biggest thing you learned?

DB: I’ve loosened up. I think “Natasha” is a much looser film in the way we shot it. My approach on set was better. The first film was heavily storyboarded. This film was planned out with Guy Godfree (Cinematographer), but we gave ourselves more freedom to create on set. I was much more open on the day. Some decisions are hard to change because we’ve planned out so much in prep, but we can change the blocking and some wardrobe changes for example on the day. It made for a better film.

MT: Did you rehearse before production began?

DB: Oh yeah. Just a couple of days, but it’s so important. The biggest thing is that the actors can get to know each other and form a bond before we begin filming.

MT: The female lead, Sasha K. Gordon, is very new to acting…

DB: Her first time on set. Her first film.

MT: She’s really good. A lot of depth and emotion to her character. There’s a darkness to her. How did you find her?

DB: We looked and looked and looked. She found us more than we found her. She really pulled off this performance. She’s tremendous.

MT: Most of this film is shot on a hand-held camera.

DB: There was some tri-pod blocking, but as the film progresses the film is definitely much looser.

MT: You mentioned your cinematographer Guy Godfree. How was your collaboration together?

DB: Terrific. This is a small film. Low budget. So everyone needs to be on board. From Guy to all of his keys and their crew. They need to believe in the project because there are a lot of productions happening in Toronto and they can definitely be working on higher paying projects. So they have to believe and it starts with Guy.

You come up with a look and come up with an idea and everyone has to believe in the process and the project. It worked.

MT: Was the entire film shot on location?

DB: Every single frame. We couldn’t afford a studio.

MT: Did the Production Design team do a lot of changes to the location, or was most of it shot close to the location you shot?

DB: Some locations we didn’t dress much, as others we re-did everything from scratch, like the basement scene. Other places, like Natasha’s apartment, the main house, is as is. This is a Russian neighborhood and a Russian character driven film, so a lot is what it is.

MT: Who is the audience for “Natasha”? Most of the film is in Russian? How are Russians reacting to this film?

DB: It’s played at some festivals where Russians were in the audience and they were thrilled. They’ve never seen their world portrayed before. I hope this is a film for everyone as most cultures can relate to this story and situation.

MT: In very generic terms, this is a coming of age story, like your last film “Victoria Day”. Is this a theme in a lot of your novels and writings?

DB: When making a coming of age story, family is mostly involved. I wanted to tell a story about this culture and the family within this culture of a boy hitting a crossroads in his teenage life.

The character Natasha is a twist to this story as she enters an English world but speaks only Russian. The character Mark is drawn back to his culture as she draws him back. And there are many twists and turns with him doing that. So it’s “coming of age”, but it’s a 2nd generation story about a boy coming back to the 1st generation.

MT: In the synopsis, it describes Mark as a slacker. I really don’t see him that way. I see a boy who’s really trying to figure out who he is in the strange world that he lives in.

DB: I really don’t see him as a slacker either, but people need shorthand.

MT: This is also a tale of sexuality. Mark is inexperienced. As Natasha, even though she’s still the same age, is much more worldly.

DB: She’s more mature. She is more worldly. Yet she’s still a kid. There are a lot of things that she sets in motion in the story where she’s too young to handle it all.

MT: It’s also about power.

DB: Well you can say that the major theme of this film is power. Family power. Generational power. There’s a major power struggle between the mother and sister, and it takes everyone down with them.

PHOTO: Actors Alex Ozerov, and Sasha K. Gordon in “Natasha”

natasha_1.jpg

****

Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 10-20 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto on the last Thursday of every single month. Go to www.wildsound.ca for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

davidbezmozgis.jpg