AGATHE JOBERT KARINE LIMA AIMEE GRAHAM LINDA KRUSE ADRIANA PARAMO DOGUS ÖZOKUTAN CAMILLA RUCZIKA
CINEMA PERFORMANCE THEATRE VIDEO ART c�n�ec�
Building on the success of the fifth edition, CinĂŠWomen continues showcasing video practice from around the world. As the ultimate mirror-medium of our times, video is all around us. Despite the proliferation of mainstream cinema, independent films continue to be made â€“radical, poetic, and dreamlike films, whose directors work on the edge of the mainstream film industry, never restricting themself to any single field, yet inviting the eye and the mind to travel further. Cinema is no longer the monolithic system based on large capital investiment: in the last decade the technological advances have dramatically changed the economic conditions of cinema production. Revolutions arise from obstinacy. It is not by chance that today one of the protagonists of the digital revolution in cinema is a talented and courageous woman director, Elle Schneider, co-founder along with Joe Rubinstein of the Digital Bolex Project, who after developing a cult-camera harking back to 16mm film aesthetic -a significant leap towards the democratization of technology- is now promoting an application process for a grant for producers employing women in their camera troupes. Only eight percent of 2014's top-grossing films were directed by women: it's time to reverse this trend. However, cinema is not only technology, but ideas, experimentation, and above all dialogue, networking, interaction. Creating and supporting a fertile ground for innovation and dialogue does not necessarily require compromise. Honoring the influence of women in video art and cinema, our womenartconnect.com editorial board is proud to present a selection of powerful and surreal visions from nine uncompromising outsiders. In these pages you will encounter details on a new wave of filmmakers and videoartists marching away from the Hollywood stereotype, with films like Customer Service by Aimee Graham; the visionary world of Karen Lima; Krusing America, an astonishing documentary by the talented Linda Kruse; the black atmospheres of Baby Sharks by Agathe Jobert and much more.
‘15 TOP Production Still from Fatal, Karine Lima Photo by Paul Tomasini COVER Still from Leben In Vienna, Camilla Ruzicka LEFT Production Still from Galicia. Portobello Road, Adriana Páramo
wac* VIDEO ART CINEMA THEATRE DANCE
camilla ruzicka Titolo che In inizia per Leben Vienna
After being diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer's, Anna, a 33-year-old control freak from London, moves to Vienna with the hope of treating her disease and escaping the sympathy and pity of her family and friends. She seeks the help of an extremely rude Austrian doctor who is more interested with her accepting her disease than treating it. Anna, however, is determined to prove him wrong and enrols in a language school after reading that learning a new language could stop the growth of the illness. There she meets Cemile, a young, slightly odd, Turkish girl. Preoccupied with her treatment Anna is uninterested in meeting new people and
finds Cemile to be completely irritating. Anna is about to realise, however, that she is going to need more than her own determination to truly save herself. My interest for the Alzheimerâ€™s disease was peaked when I was very young. It all started with my grandfather. Heâ€™s been living with his dementia since I was a little girl and so has my grandmother, caring for him every day, putting her life and needs aside. It was easy to blame him for all his rude comments, unacceptable behaviour and not seeing my grandmother as much. Through the process of making this film and the research involved I was able to understand Alzheimerâ€™s better, really allow-
ing me to sympathise with my grandfather and indeed others suffering with this crippling disease. Making a film about people and Alzheimer’s was always on my mind and it all started to come to life when I found a few heart-breaking stories of people who just started to live their adult lives and suddenly have to deal with an “old people”-disease in their 30s. Setting the film in Vienna, Austria was a natural decision. I felt that my hometown was the perfect setting and created an obstacle for my character at the same time. is my way to pay tribute to all those affected by Alzheimer’s and everyone who tries to deal with it. That’s
the reason why it was important to me to end the film on a positive note. This film is a collaboration of my most talented colleagues who were willing to go to Vienna with me and my dear friends and family from around the world who were so generous with their time, trust and money. C.R.
With its masterfully executed scenes and expressive camera is a psywork, chologically acute meditation on the blurry boundary between memory, imagination and perception. Camilla Ruzicka pay tribute to all those affected by Alzheimer’s, creating a moody
film that weaves past and present, personal pain and courage. We are pleased to present Camilla Ruzicka for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Camilla, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? When I was younger, although doing pretty well at school, I never wanted to follow the road of academia. I always wanted to be creative. Film has always been a big part of my life, as a kid the cinema was just so fascinating to me and probably one of my favorite places to go. Like many kids growing up at that time I was obsessed with Disney movies and the stories they would tell. I knew very early on that I wanted to tell
stories as well. I was lucky enough to have access to a video camera and I started filming everything, when we would go on holiday I would be the one with camera. The second we would get home I would be on the computer editing for hours! Nothing else brought me more joy than making my family sit down and watch my creations. When I told my parents that I wanted to be a filmmaker, they had to swallow first, but have been supportive ever since. There was no doubt in my mind that this is what I wanted to do with my life. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of : was it important for you to make a personal film, some-
thing you knew a lot about? The idea for Leben In Vienna came to me pretty suddenly, one night whilst searching the Internet I found an article about Alzheimer’s. The article talked about people in their 30s suffering from the condition and how learning and speaking more than one language appeared to help them. This immediately struck a chord with me and I wasted no time in writing it down. As the idea began to develop I couldn’t help but bring my personal experiences of Alzheimer’s into it. My grandfather has suffered from the disease since I was born, every year getting worse
and worse. I had to watch as my own grandfather slowly lost who he was and I remember how much that scared me and how helpless he was. Knowing that this disease does not only affect older people fuelled my desire to write about it! In Leben In Vienna masterly weave past and present. We have been deeply impressed with your original approach to narrative form, how did you develop the 'script' and structure of your short film? I remember pitching the film to my writing partner Anastasia Oleynikova. I didn’t have much to go on, in fact all I had was the
opening shot: A woman in her thirties running down a dark empty road, alone and confused. This one scene turned out to spark all of the other ideas and we began formulating each scene after that, often in no order at all, just putting down our raw ideas as fast as we could. The more we wrote the more we started to love the characters, it was an infinite torrent of material.
the subject is simply not as open and shut as that. We just wanted to show a chunk of time in this woman’s life, just an experience to understand her struggle, to understand her disease.
It seemed that it would be impossible to get it all into a short film, we had to start cutting huge amounts out of the script just to bring it down to 25 minutes. We knew it had to be a short film but we didn’t feel it needed to be wrapped up in a neat little bow,
I watch a lot of films in different genres, I like too many films to decide which one of them influenced me. I guess every film I watch leaves something behind and influences me in everything I do. But I’ve always been a huge fan of French and Danish cinema
The first time we watched Leben In Vienna we thought of Abbas Kiarostami's cinema. Who among international directors influenced your work?
and how honestly they approach every subject. I didn’t want to lose the subject matter into homages and inspirations, I wanted it to be just me and my experience of the condition, no outside influences. It had to be raw and organic. Why did you set the film in Vienna? It was a little dream of mine to shoot a film in my hometown after studying film in London. Vienna is a very “new” location to shoot a film in and it has so much to offer because of its classic flair. A film shot there will always look differently
and special. The Vienna film commission were so great in helping me securing all the locations I wanted and made the pre-production so easy for me. I was so impressed by how smoothly everything went when we were shooting outside in the city centre and how helpful everyone around us was. Language is important to the story, it is after all what is keeping Anna’s mind intact, so therefore it made a lot of sense to go Vienna and use my own mother tongue as the second language in the film. With little dialogue to use, your actors do an excellent job, making this film above all a very honest one. What is your prepa-
ration with actors in terms of rehearsal? What I like to do is meet up with the actors individually before the whole craziness on set starts and just talk about the script, my research on the topic and their characters. Then there is the rehearsal on set, which is always very magical because on Leben In Vienna it was the first time the characters were interacting with each other, which brought everything to life. One time we got so caught up in the moment, the performances were so amazing and after that we realised it was actually just a rehearsal and we didnâ€™t record it. This film could so easily have been
let down by the cast, but both Jacky and Julia were so wonderful, they really made the film special. Your film features gorgeous widescreen cinematography, the Red Camera shines in your hands. How did you conceive the visual style of Leben In Vienna? My director of photography, Jonathan Petts, and camera operator, Michael Lloyd, and I had a lot of meetings to find the perfect visual style for the film. We all had quite similar ideas and everything just clicked. We were looking at films like Hunting & Gathering, 50/50 and The Intouchables and Jonny
did a lot of tests with the camera in London and on location in Vienna. I love the work Jonny did on this film, it was everything I wanted and more. We were lucky enough to have the support of their production company called The Night Factory, who supplied us with the fantastic Red Epic cinema camera. Although I am a firm believer that the camera doesnâ€™t make the film I canâ€™t deny that what Jonny and his team could get out of it was just mesmerizing.
disease is one that can ultimately affect anyone. It was important that people sympathies and understand how hard it is to be strong and look for the positive. Itâ€™s a terrifying disease and coming from a family that it has touched very closely I wanted to show how putting positivity into the equation helped us understand and accept it. Hopefully one day there will be a cure but this film is there for anyone who is struggling to accept the reality of the crushing illness.
Leben In Vienna is a very personal work. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film?
For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting into filmmaking, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view
I want people to be aware that this
on the future of women in cinema? Cinema is a boys club, it would be ignorant to deny that, but more and more women are making their mark. I think the future is very bright for us, the tables are definitely beginning to turn. I for one will never let my gender get in the way of the filmmaker I want to be. Women are as talented and as artistic as men and it’s about time we see that point of view come to fruition. I am excited to be honest, there is a whole wealth of stories and ideas that have been suppressed that are now finally coming to life. Watch this space because cinema is definitely changing, and
for the better. Thanks for your time and thought, Camilla. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Camilla Ruzicka? Have you a particular film in mind? Every day my head spins with ideas and I am constantly writing. There is one idea that slowly develops itself into a script and I’m very excited about it. In the mean time I help others create their visions by editing and producing and then when the time comes for me to step up to the plate, imagine a world and sit in the director’s chair again I will be ready and super excited.
karine lima Fatal (France, 2015) Titolo che inizia per
Karine Lima is not interested in a melodramatic approach. In her refined psychological thriller emotions are rendered in clear, precise images: this film stands as a brave and uncompromising piece. We are pleased to present Karine Lima for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Karine, while watching your film we got a sense of this very observational style that combines intense psychological realism and action in a very innocent way. Is that something you aim for ? First of all, thank you very much I really appreciate your analysis. And thank you for having me here. Frankly no, it is not intentional because I did not do this in purpose, neither wanted people say that about the images or the film in itself. However, I have always had a clear vision in my head of every shot that I
wanted in this film, everything was choreographed and quite strict. I wanted this film to be as a continuity of aesthetic paintings, which we are spectators of, no judgment, no melodrama, just a situation offered as it is, and which potentially makes you think. The relationship between the torturer and the kidnapped can be understood in many senses, this is what i wanted. For the scenes in the police center, I wanted them simple and realistic. This is my first film and itâ€™s been shot in 35mm and with a very low budget, you can imagine the difficulty. You are a multidisciplinary artist. Tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium ? I always felt the need to express this and myself since childhood. At the
age of 12, I told my parents I wanted to be an actress, TV host, singer and dancer. Being an artist is in you, part of your genes. I took lessons in each discipline and started photographs and film shootings. I quickly realized that I needed more and more and my thirst for learning was very strong. And today, nothing has changed!
becoming true, getting materialized, is magical, it is a unique sensation. Then you always wonder if you did good, because if nobody like what you did and if it's bad, it's all our fault. But these films have the merit to exist and to have been made by passionate people; this is the most important to me.
I give myself new challenges every day to learn and evolve. When I wrote "Fatal" and "Powerless" I first thought I was going to call a professional filmmaker and an actress to play the role of Clara in Fatal. While preparing the film, I realized that I knew exactly what images I wanted and as I bathed in this environment for so many years, I learned a lot. So I decided to gather a very good crew, listen, learn and trust life. Seeing his characters and his story
How did you become involved with and what attracted you to this film ? In Fatal I deal with the « Stockholm Syndrome », talking about violence, power, « weak sex », fantasy, desire, there is something totally irrational and anti-conformist in this story. I read a lot of true stories about serial killers, psychopaths, psychology and philosophy. This is something that fascinates
me. So I think this film was born like that ... I had many questions on "How can you fall in love with your torturer. " In « Powerless » my other film, it is the physical and psychological overwhelmed by a man which is shown. In this film there are a lot of tangled feelings: love, hate, attachment, fear, freedom, abandonment, power,termination. What I’m trying to do is to always leave an open end so that the audience can imagine what they want, I try to deliver a message, there is always a moral. Then I hope it makes you think and evolve. In each shot is carefully orchestrated to work within the overall structure. Did you rehearse a lot with the shots you prepared in
advance ? No, it was all in my head, then we had to adapt and shoot very quickly, we had only two days. Thanks to Mathieu Vié the cinematographer, who understand me very well and who is very gifted, we succeed to make beautiful paintings in a very short time. Moreover, the feet suspension scene took us hours because it was dangerous and stunt coordinators were very meticulous. You are right to say that was carefully orchestrated, because, as I am a perfectionist, I did not want to leave anything to chance, lighting, scenery, positioning of actors, camera movements. The other difficulty is to be both in front and behind the camera. That is why we must have complete
Karine Lima at work Photo by Paul Tomasini
confidence in your crew and be well surrounded. Shooting in 35mm is more and more uncommon experience in the digital era: can you describe this experience ? Shooting 35mm is more demanding and precise than digital. First of all, the camera is very heavy and difficult to move and each roll is expensive. In my case, with the low budget, we had to be very careful with the number of takes and be sure that what we were shooting was useful. Everyone had to be 100% in, we could not afford to redo a take, or add a sequence. The concentration of the whole crew was very important and we should pay attention to each detail. Then those cameras are complex to use,
sometimes for example you have to redo some takes because dust can get in the film gate. However this is a unique experience and very rewarding. This forces you to be more perfectionist and listening to others. The first minutes could have been the minutes of a Robbe-Grillet’s film, just think of L'Eden et Apres. Can you tell us your biggest influences in art and how they have affected your work ? Indeed, you are absolutely right, the resemblance is astonishing, thank you for the comparison. However, I had not seen this movie before shooting « Fatal ». I just trusted my ideas, they were there, ready in my head, I just had to try to materialize them at best. Moreover, a scene I
really wanted to shoot is not in the film, because we did not have time to do it as I wanted. I regret it, but it is the law of the film shootings. My influences are all other actually: I admire the work and the world of Tim Burton, Luc Besson, Ron Howard, Wes Anderson, Wes Craven, Jean Pierre Jeunet, Baz Luhrmann, Jay Roach, Quentin Tarantino. I like saturated images, long sequence-shots, highly pushed and original choices. I just try to do what I want, without asking too many questions about what the other will think about it...I guess my subconscious sends regularly ideas through images he memorized before. Do you have any advice for filmmakers who have their own stories theyâ€™re burning to tell although they lack the funding or
infrastructure to do so? I am a young filmmaker.. You know, if I give you the amount of my budget, you will never believe me ! Everybody was working for free on the set, forty people have worked on this film. I did all the production managing myself. The most expensive was renting the camera and lighting equipment, the rolls of film stock, the film processing and then the other little things besides: the set design and other miscellaneous costs like transportation department and catering.. I sincerely believe that when we have a good idea and we work a lot for it, and when we are organized, we can convince the right people to follow us. Then the money is no longer a problem. I also collected about 3500
euros (4000$ at this period) by crowd funding. The goal is to go deep doing the things we want, without stopping because of course it's complicated to get everything in place and sometimes you can be discouraged but retrospectively, it's magic ! The film exists, it is in many festivals, it makes you think. Love it or not but it has the merit to exist through the work of a great crew and my eagerness!
advantages, we are often more crafty , subtle, great workers with overflowing imagination and a remarkable adaptability.
I'm resourceful, so my advice is : fight for your ideas and your dreams and they will be realized either you are a man or a woman!
Thanks for sharing your time, Karine, we wish you all the best with your filmmaker career.
Do you think it is harder for women directors to have their projects green lit ? Being a woman sometimes has
So you can use those assets with wise. It is also true that sometimes we have to fight to be respected being more tough, but as long as we are true, passionate and professional, I think we can achieve anything ! Good luck!
Thank you, I wish you the best for your magazine and your festival ! Long live to women!
What's next for you, Karine?
Have you a particular film in mind ? After the films, “Fatal”, “Powerless” and the very short films « I am in my life », « I am my choices » and « I am guilty » made for the Nikon Film Festival, I am now writing my next script. I have several ideas in mind and my requirements become more and more complicated to achieve! I will keep you updated ! Karine Lima starred in many TV series, feature, short films, commercials and music videos ( Section de recherches, Sous le soleil, Léa Parker, Joséphine…) She won the Award of the Best Actress in Fatal at the International Euro Film festival, Spain. Writer and director, she directed several short films ( Fatal won the Best short film Award at Cinefest global festival, USA, and at the International
Euro Film festival, Spain, it was also Nominated in Cannes underground festival, Golden Orchid festival, Petaluma Film festival, Women’s Director festival, Festival cinematografico de Toluca, Short short festival de Mexico, Ciné a la calle de Colombia, Loch Ness festival, Munich underground festival… ) TV Host and journalist since 2000 for French, Portuguese and Swiss TV ( M6, TF1, I Télé, Eurosport, National Géographic, NRJ12, Canal+, RTPI... ) she speaks 5 languages and was finalist for the Price talent Award class communication, nominated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal.
Photo by courtesy of
agathe jobert Baby Sharks (France, 2015) e
My movie can seem chocking at first. However, I want it people to pay attention when they watch it, because the story I tell is true. Through the characters of Tamara, Manon, Alice and ChloĂŠ, I wanted to condemn harassment, bullying and violence that exist in teenagers' friendships. The dialogs are realistic, crude: humiliation, defiance, rudeness, sexuality, sensuality, foolishness and and weakness are uncovered and laid bare. The four main characters draw four different personalities, personalities that I met through my high school years. With the help of these four girls, I wanted to show how far teenage girls could go to put themselves into the light, to be loved and to show themselves in a position of power, no matter the price to pay. This is the subject I care for the most. As I was writing, I was inspired by people I met, by things I have been through, and by my own experience. I met people who enjoyed humiliating their best friend to seem and feel stronger. I met
girls who could blackmail you to know your secret, not because they really cared, but because it would make them feel powerful. I met a girl who committed suicide, because their friends revealed a secret that soil her reputation. Filmed with an exquisite detachment reminding us of Yorgos Lanthimos's early cinema, s is a work of both great beauty and vivid darkness. Agathe Jobert weaves the stories of four girls into a cinematic tapestry that is equal parts comedy and tragedy, capturing the cruelty of adolescence with emotional depth. We are pleased to present Agathe Jobert for this year's CinĂŠWomen Edition. Agathe, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? When I was in college, I met a girl who committed suicide because her boyfriend had filmed their sexual relationship without her knowledge. As the tapes were streamed, she be-
came so afraid of her friends reaction (you know how hard teen girls can be to each other) that she preferred to end her days. I was so touched by the story that I decided to make a movie of it. Besides, I love Teen Movies and always wished I could work on that kind of films. Teenagers are a great source of inspiration to me. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for ?
with love and sweetness / I Baby Shark will devour your heart / Baby Shark, baby velvet / Baby shark, baby love »
Every time I listened to it, I would imagine pretty girls with innocent faces preparing a dirty trick. This is what gave me the idea of making « Baby Sharks ».I was also very inspired by « Triple Dog » movie. The story is about a group of teenage girls venturing into challenges that push the boundaries of extreme.
I love « Baby Sharks » song. It’s a very popular french single performed by France Gall. The lyrics strongly inspired me :
Your short film features an elegant approach to narrative and characters. How did you develop the script and the structure of your film?
I am a Baby Shark / With a white belly and pearly teeth / In the warm waters I will lead you / And without you knowing,
When I write a screenplay, I jump into the lion’s den. I make no séquencier or synopsis. I start writing and I make it
up gradually while having a precise idea of the weft of the story. I never manage to write a séquencier as it requires knowing the story by heart. When the idea of a screenplay comes to me, my ideas develop in the course of my writing. Might be unconventional in the film world but it is what suits me best. When I wrote Baby Sharks, I knew the beginning, the middle and the end of my story. However, I didn’t know the exact chain of events. I began to write and the whole formed little by little. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film? I hope audiences will hold that adolescence is a very difficult age to consider. Adults often say « Ah, You know nothing about the sufferings of life »
or « Ah, that’s nothing. It will be over ». And so, teenagers are not listened to. They are not even taken seriously when they need help. We should not react in this way. Teenagers can slip quickly. We are so sensitive and fragile at this age. That’s how school harassment can lead to suicide. Laughing at the physical appearance of a person can cause disorders such as anorexia or bulimia. Sexual touches can end in rape ect… We have to listen to young people more intently. Baby Sharks features an impressive low-key cinematography, which reminded us of Leos Carax's Mauvais Sang. What was your lighting setup? At the beginning, colours were to be rather lively to underline the girlseccentric and bubbly side. After several
lighting tests, I opted for light colours because it reminded me of the sixties which I like very much. Besides “ Baby Sharks “ song was created in the sixties. Finally, light colours gave a melancholic tone to the movie. I decided to use very feminine colours such as purple and pink. The light pink lighting aimed at marking the woman child side as well as the femininity and the seduction operating in “Baby Sharks”. The use of decorative elements in light purple tones is intended to deepen the mystery of characters. Even if they seem rather eccentric and big mouth, the four characters remain mysterious. No one knows why Manon behaves in such a way and Tamara commits suicide. What really happened with this famous boyfriend? In the end, rumours and assumptions persist.
Your actors do a terrific job making a very human and honest film. What is your preparation with actors in terms of rehearsal? We did not have time for more than two rehearsals on two days. I gave top priority to a complete physical emotional and psychological identification of the actresses with their characters. This would get them to embody their characters with much credibility in imaginary circumstances. I had no difficulty in directing my actresses. They quickly understood their character and how to interpret their role. They are awesome actresses. We have previously mentioned Leos Carax, who among international artists and directors influenced your work?
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Sophia Coppola’s “Virgin Suicide” and Catherine Harwicks “Thirteen” inspired me;“Virgin Suicide” with its whole aura of mysterious and incomprehensible teenagers and “Thirteen” with its harsh shocking realism. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? In my opinion, film world is a macho world. For example, when I work on shootings, most of the technicians are men. Sexist remarks come from all sides, mocking our way of getting dressed or behaving. Men do not judge themselves but they judge women a lot. I base myself on my
personal experience. However, women are getting more and more legitimate in the arts of cinematography. Many things have changed. It is necessary to be ambitious, hard-working and full of enthusiasm to succeed. Never give up! Thanks for your time and thought, Agathe. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for Agathe Jobert? Have you a particular film in mind? I am currently writing a full-length film telling the story of a young woman beautiful and fragile, disenchanted, provocative and unbalanced. She will live a feverish, carnal and passionate love story during a scorching summer. The movie takes place in the sixties. I hope this project will succeed.
aimee graham Titolo che iniziaService per Customer
Richmond Arquette plays a weary, passive aggressive cell phone technician dealing with the pitfalls of working at Celltechs, a sub par cell phone company. A Greek god and kingpin of secret operations in his own mind, Rich enjoys a vivid fantasy life – one of excitement and danger. Rich’s favorite past times include creating fictitious dating profiles, dreaming of Tahiti and toying with disgruntled costumers. His fabricated reality and tactics are put to the test when Rebekah, an unruly customer, calls for assistance. Savvy to Rich’s games having worked as a telemarketer in the past, Rebekah artfully and skillfully engages Rich and draws him out, enlisting his assistance with the retrieval of a lost voicemail
message. Frustrated and at a standstill in her own life, Rebekah and Rich develop an unusual connection one in which she reinvigorates Rich’s lost passion for life. The darkly comedic Customer Service explores the dynamics of two dysfunctional people, each with their own set of defense mechanisms; their deepest innermost needs buried and hidden. Only through fantasy and distance can Rich and Rebekah drop their guards and relate in an intimate manner. A service call and chance encounter turns into an enticing, life changing event. Filmed with an exquisite detachment and a genuine sense of humor, Customer Service is provocative look at the spiritual desolation of the digital age. Aimee
Graham takes us through the looking glass to one seemingly routine day in the life of a cell phone technician: via a succession of exquisitely shot, non-sense actions and temps mort, we come to see the character's emotional detachment from the world. Careening from the humorous to the surreal, Customer Service is a provocative meditation on time and civilization. Aimee, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? I loved books growing up, the places I could travel within my imagination, which lead to acting stories out in theater then television and film. Writing and directing felt like a natural extension, drawing from the same desire to create â€“ develop stories, characters and worlds.
There is something very satisfying about taking a blank page and turning it into a film. I love the hands on collaborative aspect of it, being able to participate in the actual construction while utilizing and experimenting with all the creative and technical tools that bring a story to life. There was also a strong desire to create authentic multidimensional roles for women, roles that express strength, complexity, intelligence and simply put, were more interesting. Characters, that I felt were lacking due to the material I was receiving at the time. This, coupled with the feeling I had stories to tell â€“ led me down this path. How did you come up with the idea for Customer Service? Customer Service originated from a
series of intensely frustrating phone calls to an “unnamed” cell phone company. It brought about a special exasperation, which in turn, lead me to wonder what life was like on the other side of the phone. I was at USC at the time and needed to film something for my intermediate directing class. It seemed ideal because it could be put together quickly with limited resources. I have known Justine and Richmond over the years and knowing how talented they are, I wrote with them in mind, hoping I could persuade them to become involved. Thankfully it worked. You did a terrific job making Customer Service a very grotesque film. From the first time we watched it, we thought of Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape: throughout the film you find absurdity in the mundane. Can you introduce our
readers to this peculiar aspect of your work? I wanted to capture Rich in his natural state, see how he combated boredom and the constant barrage of hostility and negativity that came his way. The coping mechanisms and tactics that allow him to escape and feel in control of his life were darkly humorous and interesting to me. If you ever have worked a really terrible job, I think you can relate. Customer Service is marked by an elegant and provocative use of temps mort. You capture the action with a funny, artful detachment. How did you develop the script and the structure of your short film? The use of temps mort grounds us in Rich’s reality, creating mood, time and
What do you hope viewers will take away from the film?
detached. Ironically, hidden behind technology these two isolated characters drop their guards and pseudo connect. There is absurdity in that, what distances us simultaneously brings us together. My hope is viewers can relate in some shape or form, derive entertainment, insight or at least a good laugh from it. But I am open to any and all interpretations. Sometimes I think a viewerâ€™s reaction reflects their history and perception. If I give my script to several people, they all have a slightly different experience. This tells me about them, how they see the world, which is interesting.
A friend watched the movie and remarked it made him want to be nicer to telemarketers, which was a funny but nice response. I like the idea of creating empathy. Rebekahâ€™s initial aggressive reaction to Rich derives from feeling dehumanized and
Customer Service features intense editing and camera work. You shot it on the BlackMagic Cinema Camera, a very flexible tool for independent filmmakers. Can you tell us something about your technical workflow?
space and hopefully procures tension and anticipation within the realms of Rich and Rebekahâ€™s developing relationship. Rich keeps the world at a distance, therefore the camera reflects this, starting wide, we gradually move closer and tighter mirroring the developing intimacy. Rich slowly allows Rebekah into his world. We see only bits and pieces of Rebekah as Rich forms her identity within his mind. It is not until the end that we see both Rich and Rebekah for who they truly are.
I personally prefer the look of the Black Magic Cinema Camera to many DSLR’s, which have a more saturated feel and would be wrong for this bleak, lackluster world. But all these cameras provide great mobility, are reasonable and allow more cinematic voices to be heard – which is never a bad thing. We shot HD on the BlackMagic 4K because it is easier to manage and allows more content and options. Shooting on a DSLR there was no time code so once the footage was ingested into Avid, I used Pluraleyes to sync sound and synced much by hand. At the same time, I created sub clips and organized the footage. Then the editing began. We have been deeply impressed by the extremely natural feel of your cinematography. What was your lighting setup?
After crafting the film I moved down the line. The computer screens needed to be filled because we did not have internet in the office. The dating profiles were created and a composite made for the subway, which was green screen. Once the picture was locked, a little ADR, sound design, credits, music and last but not least, color correction. This was my workflow on a very low budget film; obviously on a largerscale production things can become more complicated. We have been deeply impressed by the extremely natural feel of your cinematography. What was your lighting setup? I am glad the lighting felt natural. We used available light and the Lowell, Mole Richardson kits the school provides, a few 1 K’s, Tweenies’ 350’s, 650’s, nothing
fancy. Ryan suggested additional Kino Floâ€™s for the office. The apartment basically was the same set up minus the Kinoâ€™s. The subway we added a lighting rig to simulate the passing lights of a subway in motion. Who among international artists and directors influenced your work? Many international artists have inspired me over the years; it is difficult to mention only a few. So I will list directors whose work I have contemplated recently: John Cassavetes, Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, Wong Kar Wai, Darren Aronofsky, Jacques Audiard, Wes Anderson, John Hughes, Sofia Coppola, Alfonso Cuaron, Michel Gondry, Debra Granik, Danny Boyle, Taika Waititi,
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Lynne Ramsey, David Michod, Tamara Jenkins, Bennett Miller, Scott Cooper, Tom Tykwer, Andrea Arnold and Luc Besson. This does not touch on any writers, musicians, painters and actors but we would be here all day. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? There is a great awareness about this topic at the moment and a push for more diversity and gender equality in film. Women make up half the population so it makes sense more female perspectives
are reflected in cinema. Nothing happens over night, so it will be interesting to see how much this consciousness, alters the statistics and opportunities available. If men finance the majority of films, it will require a shift – to move pastpreconceived notions and bias, more financial risks to be taken on female filmmakers, more female financiers / producers and audience members to support their work. Women @ the Box Office conducted a study proving when women and men work within the same budgets the results are similar. Higher budgets resulted in higher grosses; it had nothing to do with gender. Working on Timecode when digital filmmaking really began to surface, I remember Mike Figgis mention he did not understand why more filmmakers did not take their own destiny into
their hands. That stuck with me. Which is one of the reasons I went back to school and learned how to do everything myself. When it comes down to it, I can make a movie. I don’t need anyone’s permission. Thanks for your time and thought, Aimee. We wish you all the best with your career. What's next for Aimee Graham? Have you a particular film in mind? Thank you for including me. I wish you the very best with your publication and cause. At the moment I am working on an independent dramedy, The Allnighter (Allnighterfilm.com) that I plan to film next year. I also have another feature and continuously contemplate new story ideas and forms.
adriana pĂĄramo Galicia. Portobello Road (UK, 2015)
With its stunning storytelling and gorgeous compositions, Galicia. Portobello Road is a visually rich, and emotionally captivating film. The story is simple, yet the implications of its characters’ emotions and actions are profound. We are proud to present Adriana Páramo for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Adriana, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium?
When I was a little child my parents used to read me stories before bed time every night. I think this is where my passion for storytelling comes from. I have always enjoyed writing but I never realized I wanted to be a director until I watched The Bad Education by Almodóvar. I thought how amazing it would be to bring to life brilliant stories like that one. When I started studying media not only I learnt that directing was an amazing experience but also that you can express yourself in cinema in so many other ways! Choosing camera movements, framing, lighting, etc. There are so many details involved and each of them is important and have an effect on the final piece. I think this is why I find film making fascinating.
We want to take a closer look at the genesis of your film: how did you come up with the idea for Galicia. Portobello Road? The idea for this short film was born at a moment in my life when I started seeing my mother as a woman rather than simply as ´my mother´. It’s when you realize that mum has problems of her own and her life doesn’t revolve only around you. It should be something logical but I think as their children we tend to only see them as mothers and we forget they exist beyond us. In addition to this, the signs that the Spanish community, and especially the Galician people, left in this area of London decades ago have always fascinated me. Portobello Road is known for the many
Spanish shops and restaurants but apart from this, there are other signs that not many people know about. There is also a mural commemorating the support of the Kensington troops in the Spanish Civil War. Also the only Spanish school in the UK, where they teach Galician language, is based here. Since I arrived in London in 2008 and I found out about the history of this area, I had always wanted to do something around it. When putting these two ideas together, I picked a specific situation in the relationship between a mother and a daughter to explore migration and how these family members communicate not only with words but with silence and looks. Your film gets to the core of con-
temporary immigrant experience. Was it important for you to make a personal film, something you knew a lot about? Galicia has always been a region in Spain where migration, for good or for bad, has marked our history. We have been migrating generation after generation and I didn’t realize how much this had impacted my own perception of the world until this kept appearing as a topic in my work. My great grand parents and my grand parents migrated and so did I. In ‘Stone Island’, my first short film, I explored those feelings you have when you go back to your homeland after being away for a long time: not recognizing your own friends, realizing they have a life now in which you are not present, etc. In
Galicia. Portobello Road I wanted to explore how migration affects in different ways generations of the same family: the sense of belonging, the idea of ‘return’, etc. When you are away from your family, friends, out of your ‘comfort zone’ you start having complex feelings that are hard to explain and difficult to deal with and I think I would still like to explore this subject in future projects. Galicia. Portobello Road delicately weaves past and present, reminding us of Jonas Mekas's words “When I am filming everything is determined by my memory." Your film is marked by an elegantly structured storytelling: each shot is carefully orchestrated to work
within the overall structure, drama is stripped down to its essential elements How did you develop the script of Galicia. Portobello Road? Way before I wrote the script I talked to several Galician women who had been in London for more than 30 years. I wanted to know about their relationship with their daughters and about their relationship with the city. I then combined this with my own perspective and experiences. Writing the script was a long process because I put it on stand by for a year or so. When I went back to it I felt different about the characters but I think it gave me some perspective to think deeply about the subject and how I wanted to approach it visually. When I write I usually think visually. I knew I wanted to shoot it in
that particular restaurant so I visualized the shots as I wrote the script. For me the restaurant was another character. In the story the restaurant plays a key role in the two women’s memories. This needed to be a powerful location by itself and it also determined the conversation the characters have. In terms of dialogue, for me it’s important that the actresses share their vision of the characters and how they think they would speak. I am open to suggestions because I think this only enrich the script. The characters in your film use Galenglish, a mix of Galician and English. Can you introduce our readers to this fundamental aspect of your work?
Galengish reflects the contact between Galician language and English in UK especially in London. There is now an online dictionary put together by the students of the Spanish school Cañada Blanch in London, as part of their Galician classes. They made a list with words they heard from their families, neighbors, Galician sailors… and these are used by Galicians in London in their day a day. In my short film I wanted to portray the reality of the Galician community in this neighborhood. I wanted the characters to be as real as possible so I knew I had to introduce some of these words in the dialogue. Your film features intense editing
and camera work: how did you develop your filmmaking style? I studied media in Santiago de Compostela, and then I wanted to develop technical and creative skills so I studied in the London Film School. This had a great impact in the way I now understand filmmaking. The school is all about practice and teamwork and they give you a lot of freedom so there is a lot of room to develop your own taste and style. On the other hand, I like films that talk about human relationships like ‘Before Midnight’, ‘Festen’ or ‘In the mood for love’. I enjoy films that explore how we communicate and where editing, camera work, art direction, etc everything fits perfectly
to shape the story. When I was studying I always wondered about how a director can acquire a particular style, this just comes naturally or is this something you deliberately need to work on? Now I think ‘style’ it’s a mixture of these two. I think my experiences have an effect on my approach to filmmaking but at the same time, style is something you have to work on. It is affected by the conscious decisions you make, how you frame a subject, how you edit, etc. I hope I keep on developing my own style and never get stuck! We have deeply appreciated the extremely natural feel of the cinematography. You have shot Galicia. Portobello Road on the Arri Amira, a flexible and power-
ful tool. Can you describe your approach to lighting? Tasha Back was the cinematographer and it was great working with her because she completely understood my vision and gave me very good suggestions. I saw this film as a ‘social realism’ story so I wanted the lighting to be as natural as possible. In the scenes outdoors we didn’t use any additional lighting. For the overall look I took as a reference ‘Before midnight’ because it reinforces the natural sources of lighting but at the same time it also creates a unique world for the characters. For the scene at the daughter’s place I took as a reference ‘Julie and Julia’ because it creates intimate spaces
that reflect the character’s personality. I was afraid that having only one location and this being very constraint as the restaurant is, could make the film look stiff. However, with the camera movements and lighting we chose I think we managed to give characters the freedom to move and breathe within 4 walls. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film? I hope people engage with the film because they see situations or feelings that reflect to their own life stories. There have been some people that have told me they identify with the characters because they’ve been through something similar and I think this is the most rewarding thing about doing a film. Galicia.
Portobello Road is about a Galician mother and daughter but they could be from any nationality. I think migration and the family relationships are universal things everybody can relate to. Your elegant storytelling remind us of Raul Ruiz's cinema. Who among international artists and directors influenced your work? I love Wong Kar Wai and the way he uses silence to make his characters to communicate. On the other hand I love Richard Linklatter and how he builds dialogue in a way it feels spontaneous. I also like the powerful women characters in Pedro Almodóvar’s films. Among artists I adore Frida Kahlo and how she was able to deal with her reality by ana-
lyzing it on her paintings. She was able to share her personal pain and turn it into something universal. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? There might be signs that things are changing but women in cinema as in many other industries are still a minority. Cannes opened this year for the second time in its history with a film directed by a woman. I believe there is a need to see more strong women characters in films and more women behind the camera.
On the other hand, there are some initiatives and organizations as this one that give visibility to women but I think this is necessary to fight the position given historically to women in filmmaking. Thanks for your time and thought, Adriana PĂĄramo. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for Adriana PĂĄramo? I have two projects in mind and both are based around the idea of migration again but from a different angle. As I said, I find this is a really complex reality and I would like to keep on exploring it!
Doğuş Özokutan Random Attemps (Cyprus 2015)
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With every inch of its wide frame crammed with elegance and authenticity, is a transporting experience. Directed with clarity and passion by Doğuş Özokutan and Vasvi Çiftcioğlu, this exquisitely nuanced dark comedy raises provoking questions about the nature of personal identity, offering a psychologically penetrating look at the spiritual desolation of the technological age. We are honored to present Doğuş Özokutan and Vasvi Çiftcioğlu for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Doğuş and Vasvi, can you talk about your creative relationship and how it has evolved through your work together? Although this was such a personal project for me, working together was very fruitful. I believe cinema should
be based on teamwork, and each person has something to contribute. Working together with a passionate person like Vasvi helped me a lot. Utilizing beautiful imagery and unexpected humor, in Random Attempts you explore the theme of suicide, offering a profoundly unsettling portrait of human alienation. How did you come up with the idea for ? Random Attempts is an outcome of my own experience of dealing with depression. To be honest, committing suicide was always on my agenda while I was going through depression. My endless questions about the meaning of life, and suicide, are blended with my readings of Edgar Allan Poe and Albert Camus. After getting through a long and deep period of depression, I felt I should let
out all those feelings and thoughts, like digesting them, and I finally got them out of my system. “Random Attempts” is my own attempt to deal with the meaning of life and suicide. If you stop for a minute and question your very basic intentions about going on living, you realize that the life of an ordinary individual is dedicated to others’ happiness and interests. The social norms we face, like getting married, having kids, working hard, earning money, are manipulating us to spend our time and energy on things that have nothing to do with our personal motivations to be on earth. You may think that’s a useless cliche, but consider this: if you know that you’ll die tomorrow, will you keep on following the social routines or norms that you’re following today? People are living
lives which are mainly dedicated to working and following social norms, as though they will never ever die. But death is always waiting around the corner. I believe the concept of “death” itself can help individuals to imagine a better or more meaningful life, much more than the social, time-killing routines they repeat every single day. Remembering the fact that our time on earth is limited can help us change our lives. Was it important for you to make a personal film, something you knew a lot about? Yes it was really important, and from time to time very challenging, but at the same time so relieving. I was trying to keep a distance from the movie, so as not to lose my creative control over it. Also, I knew
that there were other people out there feeling like me, and I wanted to show them that they are not alone or weird. I wanted to help them see there are other ways of dealing with problems, rather than committing suicide. With its elegantly structured is storytelling, a puzzle with reoccurring motifs that are slowly pieced together. What’s your writing process like? My writing process was actually painful. It was painful to face my experience, get through it again and again, and remember my feelings. As you say, it was a slow processs of piecing things together. I analysed each phase of depression, and tried to reflect those phases. On the other hand, as an indie filmmaker, I had to
keep the filming budget in mind, and that also defined my writing process. I had an initial script about the same issue, but when I looked at the budget for that, I had to give up. Then I created this new version, with the same philosophy about committing suicide, but this version had a lower filming budget with a rescheduled screenplay. When we watched your film, we thought of Paolo Sorrentino's elegant use of camera movements. Shot on RED Camera, features gorgeous widescreen compositions. How did you develop the visual style of your film? La Grande Bellezza is one of my favorite movies so it’s quite possible
that I was influenced by that, and I’m so happy to hear that my movie made you think of Sorrentino. I used wide-angle compositions to emphasise the empty space and to show the emptiness in scenes and in life, because I believe that emptinesses define existence. And because being in depression in a way means feeling empty, I wanted to communicate this feeling too. On the other hand, the camera movements towards my main character are also important for me, because these shots represents the character’s inner look at herself. Can you describe the shooting of ? If I had to use one word, I would choose “painful.” We live on a small island, Cyprus, that doesn't have a proper cinema sector, and this
makes it hard to do things professionally. It’s difficult to form a crew and find the necessary professional equipment; and when you’re indie and have a low budget, it’s almost impossible to shoot a film: the shooting process is always difficult, and the lack of a professional crew and equipment made it even more difficult. Random Attempts was shot in three days, in six different locations. Our time was really limited due to financial restrictions, and we faced several obstacles while filming, but all the crew did their best and handled the difficulties very well. Your film is marked by a very saturated palette, despite the milky look largely diffused in these years. What was the grading process like?
I didn’t want to have a milky look in this project, because I didn't want to lose the colors we captured. I think for this project the more saturated palette creates a contrast between the colors of life and the desire to commit suicide. The grading process was handled by our cinematographer, Pieter Verburg, and I think he did a great job. relies on small, psychologically charged moments, like the films of Chantal Akerman. How did you develop your filmmaking style and who were your chef influences? First of all, thank you for the analogy; I admire Akerman. As a cinephile from a very young age, I have a very long list of influences. Although the script comes from my
own experience, Sylvia Plath, Albert Camus and Edgar Allan Poe influenced my writing process. And the Turkish poet Nilgün Marmara, who committed suicide, has always had a great influence on me. In the cinematographic sense, Agnes Verda, Chantal Akerman and Vera Chytilova are at the top of my list of influences. You can see Verda’s influence, for example, on my technical language in Random Attempts. We have appreciated Hatice Tezcan's fine performance, how did you collaborate with her on this film? Hatice Tezcan’s performance was a great pleasure to see. She valued this project and was committed to it, and participated in it entirely on a
voluntary basis. We met frequently during my writing process, and I talked to her about the motivations of the main character. Looking at the result, I can say that she really understood the character’s motivation, and communicated that very well to the audience. How long was the project? As I mentioned earlier, I had to change the Random Attempts script because of our limited budget. It took me a month to rewrite the scenario. The filming was done in May 2014, but to finish it we had to be very patient, due to financial restrictions. Almost all of our crew members worked on a voluntary basis –they either charged us a very limited fee, or not at all – so we had to schedule and reschedule all the post-production processes (editing,
music, sound design, color grading, even translation) to fit our crew’s plans. The post production couldn't be completed till January 2015 . For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting behind the camera, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? I believe that with recent technological developments, like DSLR cameras, that lower the costs of making films, documentaries, video art, and so on, we will see more women in cinema; and certainly there will be an increase in the number of women directors worldwide. With the contributions of the feminist movement, hopefully the era where domestic labor and
childcare are still seen as women’s duties by the patriarchal system will soon be over. That will open more space and time for women to express their artistic ideas, not only in the forms of video or film, but in other aspects of cultural life as well. Thanks for your time and thought, Doğus. We wish you all the best with your filmmaker career. What's next for you? Are there any film projects on the horizon? I have a deep wish to move on to feature film. I’m trying to finish my feature script now, but as an indie filmmaker I have to work on a day job, so it’s not easy to focus fully on my project. So I’m not moving fast enough. Recently I’ve been trying to discipline myself to wake up
every morning to create a writing routine, like Hemingway did. But feature films need financing, and as an indie filmmaker I need to find a way to raise funding. I’m planning to open a kickstarter campaign as soon as I finish my script. On the other hand, I also have few ideas for short films that I’ve written the draft scripts for, and also an idea for a documentary. So it seems that the next step for me is to decide which of these projects to work on. And as Random Attempts has received 10 official selections and 3 awards from all over the world, I feel the pressure on me to raise the bar, and that makes it difficult to choose.
linda kruse Krusing America(USA, 2015)
Lt. Colonel Victor Krus' singular American odyssey is a fascinating story. Focusing on small, psychologically charged moments, Linda Kruse create an exquisitely nuanced film which mixes dramatic and documentary techniques: from the first time we watched Krusing America we thought of Werner Herzog's provoking cinema. We are pleased to present Linda Kruse for this year's CinéWomen Edition. Linda, tell us about your trajectory as a filmmaker. What inspired you to express yourself in this medium? First, I am incredibly flattered to be compared to Werner Herzog. As an child raised in Europe; growing up in Germany I certainly know Herzog’s work so that is an amazing compliment. What inspired me to express myself thru film is that I found that filmmaking is the best way for me to express myself overall. Being a visual person, film, television and now the Internet allows me to not only convey my vision; it also allows my work to reach a larger audience. I think it is very important and necessary to tell someone’s story correctly and I found the best way to do that is to just let them tell their stories in their own words. I saw first hand, that People are inherently good and that goodness made it important for me to show that in this film. The People that had the least, gave the most. This story touches the heart. KRUSING AMERICA is a story that
resonates with a lot of people. It’s not just an American family’s journey – it is anyone and everyone’s journey. KRUSING AMERICA certainly grew to be much bigger project than I had initially imagined. It took me some time to figure out what would be the best way to tell this story / their story. I could have just told it from the perspective of the family – but in the end I wanted to do justice to the good people I met along the way – those people that allowed me into their homes and into their lives. We want to take a closer look at the genesis of Krusing America: was it important for you to make a personal film, something you knew a lot about? Although I've always been fascinated by people and why they do what they do and why they are, who they are… This story happened quite by accident actually, a happy accident at that. I overheard my brother speaking about this trip – in fact, they had been planning this for years. They had been living outside the United States stationed all over the world for the US Military and had been planning a 37 state gigantic figure-8 around America when they retired. : He wanted to see the country he defended but never lived. I thought it was an important story that needed to be told. I wasn’t completely sure what kind of story it would be until I built a website and so many people, strangers wanted to
learn more and even offered to help. It seemed like a great opportunity to share a story that may seem personal at first but in the end it became a story everyone could relate to and one that needed to be told. Of course, I also thought the worst-case scenario would be I'd spend time with my family so that wasn’t such a bad reason either. I know a lot about traveling and I've traveled the world – I was born in Vicenza, Italy to an American Military Father and Italian Mom, and lived mostly in Germany as a child so I too had not spent a lot of time in the United States. KRUSING AMERICA was just as much a journey for me as much as it was for my brother and his family. In fact telling and making the story of KRUSING AMERICA has turned out to be a far bigger journey than I had anticipated. And since it's now winning so many awards I guess the journey isn't over… (26 Awards in 3 months as of Sept. 6, 2015)
Krusing America masterly weaves past and present. We have been deeply impressed with your original approach to narrative form, how did you develop the 'script' and structure of Krusing America? I knew early on it couldn’t just be one singular Documentary, it was too big of a story to tell in an hour and a half – it needed the time to develop. I also knew we needed to have a structure that would work best for a half hour documentary series or a half-hour television series. Plus I love the idea that each state is a like a different story, a smaller singular story and yet weaved together. They are truly little countries unto them selves with their own personality and characters. Once I realized it was a much bigger story than just a story of a family, I wasn't exactly sure which story I would tell. This story could go in 3 very different directions:
#1 I could tell the story of the family and their journey across America (which seemed too simple and obvious) or #2 to tell the story as a trip - highlighting the towns and how they traveled across America or #3 I could tell the story of the people we met along the way. Whichever direction I went, I knew I had to wait to decide on the story structure until the end. I needed to pull all the pieces together which also meant I had to be patient, consistent and shoot all 3 versions in every single town we visited. It’s a longer more tedious process but it would allow me options and freedom to tell the right story in the end. And at the time I did not know which was the “right” story to tell. That also made for a lot more footage to work thru in the edit but it allowed me the flexibility to wait to tell the end to see which story would unfold and which version would be best. Each town was
different and yet at the same time it was the same. I knew in order to have a format that carried from town to town; we had to shoot the same types of things in each town. I also realized early on that this was way bigger then just a singular documentary – I wanted to do it justice and so I worked toward making it a documentary series. It allowed KRUSING AMERICA to be bigger than just one film. Each family member has a specific request for what they were looking for in each town: (The Father) Victor was looking for a strong sense of place / HISTORY and generations of families living in one place. (The Mother) Lori is very practical so LOCATION was important. Being close to a big city, airports, hospitals. (The Daughter) AnnaMarie loves people so a welcoming COMMUNITY was important. (The Son) Anthony is a boy so ACTIVITIES
Nothing resonates more than the story of ‘coming home’...It’s the oldest story known to man — coming home — but with a twist. I crafted KRUSING AMERICA from that notion – the story of ‘coming home’, but what if you came home to a place you’ve never been. After spending most of his life living outside the United States defending his country, where does a decorated 20-year American Army soldier, back from the War, go home to if he’s never really had a hometown? In this documentary series, a retired military family crisscrosses America on a quest to find their home, sweet home.
and having things to do was always on his mind. (The Creator) For me as I was searching for the ‘right’ place to film: I realized a town could be in a great location, have history, lots of people and things to do but the thing that tied it together and made it worth watching was something I called THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS. Without this one element – I could not have created the collection of amazing towns and mini documentary episodes that I did. And I knew I needed to stay true to the town and yet still make it consistent. So each town and act within the series tells of those 5 qualities that make up a great place to live. And although we focused on the United States – those qualities are consistent for people anywhere and everywhere. They are universal. In the end – the structure for each episode looked like this:
HOMETOWN QUALITIES / EPISODE BREAKDOWN: (30 minute episodes) THE OPENING / FIRST IMPRESSION (1-2 minutes) Each town makes some kind of first impression. Upon arriving in town, we see what the Krus Family sees. Listen to their thoughts. Feel what they feel. Does this town have Curb Appeal? ACT 1 / LOCATION (4-5 minutes) Location is everything. Choosing towns near major cities provides more job possibilities and convenient big-city amenities, while keeping the charm of a small town. ACT 2a / HISTORY (5-6 minutes) Having lived all over the world, the Krus Family is looking for a town with a strong sense of place and connection to family. Families that have remained for generations help keep the town’s heritage alive.
ACT 2b / COMMUNITY (5-6 minutes) A welcoming and comfortable place for both new and old friends, these are the cornerstones that make a town a wonderful place to visit and a special place to live. ACT 3 / ACTIVITIES (6-8 minutes) America is made up of many wonderfully diverse and interesting things to do. Each town has specific activities that make it unique and enjoyable for everyone. ACT 4 THE WRAP UP / THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS (2-4 minutes) In each town, we are reminded of the unexpected human connections that so often transform the experience of travel. These personal connections celebrate the gifts of kindness and warmth. They restore our trust in Mankind. Each unexpected gift leaves a lasting impression, beautifully realized in the people we meet along the way. The Kindness of Strangers is especially noticeable through the many people touching our lives as we continue KRUSING AMERICA.
The story of Krusing America is at once as small as a single life and as big as the universe: it touches on universal themes of family, love, and war. Your observational style proves to be fitting as a counterpart of the emotional rollercoaster your characters live through. How did you develop your filmmaking style? You are correct; my filmmaking style is very observational. I like to think it is also very simple –I want to show the best version of everyone I interview. I've always believed that the best stories are real stories and those stories should not be about me – it's about them. The people I interview and the way I share their stories – they are not characters, they are real people with real lives, so I feel I have a responsibility as a filmmaker and as a human being – to get it right – to tell the truth or rather to tell their truth. Every project I have made seems to revolve
around real people. I am fascinated by how and why people are the way they are. Good and bad - foibles and all. And in the end, I still just wanted them to shine. I want to make sure they are the best version of themselves on camera. And I’ve found as a filmmaker - the best way to do that is let them just be themselves especially with KRUSING AMERICA. That is why I didn’t use a host. It certainly is harder as a director to allow people to be interviewed and try to get them to be normal on camera but there are ways that can bring out their personality and allow them to shine. I find that if you ask the right questions you will get the right answers. And those answers are real, honest, genuine, funny and surprising; often times not what I would have expected. For KRUSING AMERICA I really wanted the people in each town to be the host of each episode. It certainly can be harder to
get those great interviews but I interviewed over 1600 people across America – and I certainly became better as a filmmaker and an interviewer in showing off the goodness, kindness, and humility of regular everyday people. It was not easy but I knew right away those interviews would be the spine/ the backbone of this story, of this journey. And yes it is much harder but I do have a responsibility to them and in the end the outcome far outweighs the challenges. Human experience is often the starting point of your artistic research. What draws you to a particular subject? I am drawn to the fact that people are fascinating to me and their stories are yet to be told so finding a medium that will allow their stories to be expressed honestly and clearly with compassion – that is what draws me in and makes me want to be a better filmmaker and a better person.
There are 3 things that are the biggest factors that contribute to my artistic style: First, I started traveling early in my life. Growing up in Europe, having family in 7-8 countries, I was riding trains and taking planes at a very early age. Travel taught me to watch, listen and learn. Secondly, sometimes it is easier to talk to strangers… The truth is I like to know why people are the way they are and why they do the things they do. And lastly, of course, since I'm half Italian, Italians are known to be storytellers…so combine all of that with a sense of wonder and that creates the framework for the work that I do today. Krusing America is a very personal work. What do you hope viewers will take away from the film? Not everyone is able to travel so I hope that KRUSING AMERICA allows people to see this part of the world from anywhere. More importantly I hope they will see what I saw: people are inherently good and they
will help you more times than not. People are kind and genuine. And most people love where they live – and if they think you are truly interested in their town, their lives, their world – they will share it with you. I want people to see the world thru their eyes. One of the biggest compliments was when people would see the series, visit the location, then come back and say, “It was exactly as you showed it to me on screen!” But I also hope it inspires viewers to not be afraid to take their own journey. There are always ways to see the world and everyone should. You do not have to go far and it may be very different from ours - small or large - it does not matter but I hope that it inspires people to go out and see the world. We are more alike than we think. What was the most challenging thing about making this series? When you are talking about somebody's
life I think it is important to make sure that you show it in a way that honors that world. So finding the right team that shares this vision was a daunting task but I felt a responsibility to the people I met along the way. Filmmaking is a collaborative business and the structure is nothing without the right crew implementing that vision. So I think the hardest part in creating KRUSING AMERICA was finding the right creative team. Some of the biggest challenges were finding the right Cinematographer and Editor as well as the right people for Sound and Music as they are equally important to the story, structure and image. CINEMATOGRAPHER I knew I needed a Cinematographer that was not only naturally good but could work independently with regular people and get along with kids. I also wanted the cameraperson to have an editing
background with a strong sense of what might be interesting to viewers. I needed it to look and feel natural, as if you were passing by. I found all that in Tom Geagan and because of his work, this story has been told more vividly than I could have imagined. EDITOR I have a Masters Degree in editing and although I didn’t want to be an editor I knew I needed to have that background in order to make the kinds of films I wanted to make. Just as important was finding an editor who could understand my plan and help pull all the pieces together. An Editor who could work without being overwhelmed by the amount of footage yet still have a clear picture of my vision. The structure was actually created in the end with the help of my editor, Julie Antepli – she knew exactly what I needed. (Side Fact: Julie is originally from Turkey. although an American themed film – it was very
much an international collaboration) MUSIC For me, music is just as important as the interviews. It needed to be original and specific to each location. Just like the story - each theme song was weaved throughout the episode. My two composers, Danny Weinkauf and Carlos Platon Tornes worked diligently to create the themes and all the original music heard throughout the series. I think music is pivotal in telling a story. Music should move you – make you feel something more than you would with images alone. Music pulls at your heart and dares you to think bigger. Each of those elements were challenging in creating KRUSING AMERICA. But I have learned when you find the right people – the music, the sound, the images, the structure – everything seems to fall into place and leave you with a sense of wonder.
We have previously mentioned Werner Herzog, who among international directors influenced your work? Again, I am beyond humbled that you would compare me to Werner Herzog. I remember reading once that he said, “you must find purpose in what you do and love” – that is certainly something I aspire to do and I hope that it shows in my work. I cannot specifically say which international directors have influenced my work but I know that people and life certainly play a huge role in the filmmaker and person I am and the projects I like to create. I try to create films and stories with integrity that are both timeless and insightful. 15 years ago I created my production company: Atticus Productions, Inc. based on Atticus Finch one of my favorite characters from the book “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, famously played by Gregory Peck in the movie version of the book. Doing what is right
even if no one's watching. Courageous, honest, empathetic; those are the kind of films I want to create. I want my work to reflect that and hope that it does. “There is nothing wrong with hardships and obstacles but everything wrong with not trying” – Werner Herzog. For more than half a century women have been discouraged from getting into filmmaking, however in the last decades there are signs that something is changing. What's your view on the future of women in cinema? Lately there has been a lot of talk about the lack of women in the film business and they have been discouraged from getting into filmmaking but people can only be discouraged from something if they let themselves be. It is because of those exact statements that I work harder. I think I've always been fearless. I grew up with a strong independent
Mom, a military Dad and 2 brothers, especially my older brother (Lt. Colonel Victor Krus of KRUSING AMERICA.) I was never told I could not do something because I was a girl and if it were true – well, I wasn’t listening. However, in my life there have been specific times I can remember where a female filmmaker had an influence on me and in turn, my work. I have a Masters in Filmmaking with an emphasis on the silent film era and I was in awe of actress, producer, and writer, Mary Pickford. She was the first woman in Hollywood to earn a million dollars a year at the age of 24. That was unheard of in 1916. She was known as a smart and aggressive businesswoman creating the film company United Artists with D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin and Douglas Fairbanks. She then went on to help establish the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. I was also fascinated by Lucille Ball’s
story. She starred in “I Love Lucy” at the age of 40 and owned her own studio in the 1950’s.Typically, this was not something older women did. But my most influential female role model today would have to be Kathryn Bigelow - writer, producer, director of “Hurt Locker”, “Point Break”, and “Zero Dark Thirty”. She was the first woman to win the Director's Guild of America Award for directing a feature film (The Hurt Locker). In 2010, she became the first woman in Oscar history to win the Best Director award, which was presented to her by Barbra Streisand, the only woman ever to have won the Golden Globe for Best Director. Kathryn was also the first woman to win a BAFTA Award for Best Director. Each of these women are strong, independent and had accomplished things that others, including men, had not done. So even though it has been said that the film industry is a male-
dominated business, it has never occurred to me that a woman couldn't do the same. If you are capable it should have nothing to do with gender and I feel more and more people are starting to realize that. It seems today that more filmmakers are realizing that certain people, personalities and even gender can bring more to a project. It is a collaborative business and the more you can collaborate with people of like mind, the better the project is for it. It has very little to do with gender. Not to mention, I am certainly motivated by being told I can't do something - it makes me work harder and that kind success is far more gratifying for me.