The Tokyo International Film Festival ended a week ago, and the publicity department has finally posted all four of my interviews on their website. These were done specifically for the festival, which means they chose the subjects, not I. Except for Never Let Me Go I probably wouldn’t have seen any of these films had I not had to interview their directors. The other three were in the Natural TIFF section, tying in to the festival’s environmental sub-theme, which also includes the Green Carpet and a claim that “TIFF screens with green energy.” (I’m not sure what that means. Does TIFF have its own exclusive power source?)
Anyway, the links to the interviews are after the jump.
The winner of the Natural TIFF competition was the documentary Waterlife, about the Great Lakes, one of the few films in the section that had an overt environmental subject. A publicity staff member, in fact, hinted that it was already chosen to receive the award rather early on. The director, Kevin McMahon, a former newspaper reporter, was easy to talk to simply because we could discuss water and the Great Lakes and not meanings and subtexts.
Paul Gordon, the director of The Happy Poet, is exactly like the lead character in his film, which he played: laconic, self-deprecating, candid in an off-handed way. As pointed out in the interview, even though his movie was selected for the Natural TIFF category it has more to do with capitalism than with environmentalism. In fact, considering how many great documentaries have been released in the world recently about the current economic crisis, TIFF would have been more relevant if it had replaced Natural TIFF with Economic TIFF.
The interview with Mark Romanek, director of Never Let Me Go, was the shortest and most difficult since it was also being videotaped, presumably for the website but I haven’t seen it yet. I don’t particularly want to see it; not because it was a bad interview. It was OK. But video cramps my style, since I usually like to get a conversation going and the director of the video required a more conventional Q and A structure. That also meant that after Romanek left the room I had to perform reaction shots for inserts. Ugh.
Two Gates of Sleep was included in the Natural TIFF section because it takes place in a natural location and the main action involves two brothers carrying the body of their mother to her final resting place deep in the wilderness. It’s pretty to look at, infuriating to analyze. The Hollywood Reporter gave it a scathing review, but I had to get something out of the director, Alistair Banks Griffin, who wasn’t always coherent but seemed to know exactly what he wanted to accomplish.