Interview with Filmmaker Rod Aloras (THE FLAME OF MEMORY)

THE FLAME OF MEMORY was the winner of BEST SHORT FILM at the March 2021 DOCUMENTARY Short Film Festival.

What motivated you to make this film?

First, I randomly read an interview with the character of my film, the Auschwitz survivor David Galante, and I instantly became fascinated with his story, but mostly with the way he had to narrate it; a captivating style, a rare warmness considering the tragicness of the story. I knew that I was in front of a material that was powerful and unique. And then this appearance happened in a social context where we are seeing every day, everywhere, the emergence of fascist mentalities, extreme-right parties taking place in parliament in Europe and America, an undeniable rise of racism and xenophobia around the globe. So this alarming situation together with the encounter with David Galante made it almost mandatory, getting to work and embrace the project.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

Almost four years. This might seem like a long time for a 40 minutes long film, but along this process there was different instances that required their own tempo. I actually recorded the main interview of the film the very first day I met David personally, so we could say that by the two first days of work, half of the film was already done. But then I had to travel to different distant locations, in occasions two times to each one of them, for capturing both summer and winter, and that forced waiting periods that were eventually used for earning more money (I paid the whole film with my work as painter) and planning the next phases of filming. So there were long periods of time where I had to put on hold the production, what gave place for writing and rewriting the thing until it was in an ideal shape.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Love and Resistance.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

My own technical limitations. I had to learn the use of a new camera that I specially purchased for this work, and learn to capture sound, which I never did before. Errors in this fields made a big amount of footage unusable, but I kept learning and improving. I had to get better as well in the use of editing programs, since my knowledge was (and still is) very basic. In the end I ended up with a pretty decent work in all those areas, but I still have everything to learn.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

First I felt somehow embarrassed about having this unknown group of people dedicating their time and words to my piece of work. Soon I started to get touched about their kindness, and by the end even a tear rolled down my cheek. It was a very moving and giving experience.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

Early in my youth when I discovered Jean-Luc Godard and (the films of) the Nouvelle Vague.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Every time I meet a friend who hasn’t seen “The Gleaners and I” (Les glaneurs et la glaneuse) of Agnes Varda, I sit with him or her and we watch it, because it’s an easy-watching movie, full of interesting and touching life stories, it has the spirt of Agnes all along the way, and even myself was a food gleaner at a time. “Solaris” of Andrei Tarkovski might be another film that I can watch forever and ever.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

A feeling of relief. Before completing my film I was concerned about the “black hole” of distribution. That’s how I felt about it. I was going to finish my film and then god knows how was I going to get my film to be seen or sent to festivals, out to the world. I tried to hire someone that could do that job for me! I didn’t want to have anything to do with what I imagined a tedious and Kafkquesque process. But I couldn’t find anybody that could do that job for me. Finally a friend told me about this platform and it all turned into almost a game. It was a pleasant and easy thing in the end.

9. What is your favorite meal?

A good extended breakfast would actually be my favorite meal.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Yes, a new film in which I’m already working on. It is a documentary filmed in South America about (and together with) a last speaker of a language that for 200 years was considered extinct, until now, until this man appears. Not only is he able to write and speak it, but he carries an enormous amount of knowledge of his ancestors; about their culture, habits, and legends. It’s an exiting trip into the essence of men living in tight connection with Nature, and it will be a film that keeps somehow in line with my first film “The Flame of Memory”, following the path of the last survivals on earth, keeping memory alive and passing the light to new generations.

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