Interview with Filmmaker Luisa Gherdaoui (SMOKING)

SMOKING was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the November 2021 FEMALE Filmmakers Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I always wanted to speak about addiction , as i always felt sorry for those people deep in my heart, because I knew that behind these behave , which most of the time can lead to waste of life and create drama, there was some vulnerable point, most of time due to a lack of being care in a good way, or facing difficult émotions alone. Then,I wanted to translate that by a metaphor with cigarettes, because we are so used to seeing them in our daily lives. Of course, the point it’s not to be moralist or dogmatique about cigarettes, it’s more to encourage, through these metaphors, people when they’re faced with their emptiness to be kind with themself and allow the pain to be and not run away from it, and slowly face themself.

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

It almost took 6 month, as I also did the production, I worked parallel to my job, as a video editor. Then, I took it easy, because I knew that after the shooting most of the things were really in my hand, and I wanted to have time between different editing versions, so I could have more distance when I get back on editing the short. I used to work fast, but here I really need to take time and distance as I care a lot about production, direting, editing, … It Was not so easy but it gave me a lot of freedom also.

By the way, I want to thank my team. They were very generous to me and passionate, and I couldn’t have done that without them.

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

I think I’ll say something like “the trick of love”..”trick of desire “…because there is a fine slice of cynicism in that movie, the irony that could happen sometime in our life.

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

I like these questions, because of course it’s money, but it’s challenging and you start to think what you can sacrifice or not, or the form that movie will going to shape by itself as you can not for example afford you a big team or figurant, and you do work with few opportunity that you know will give the quality minimal you want to me achieve a message that i want to share, about mental health issues.

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

I was really touched, and felt very happy to hear all these different people talking with a lot of kindness about their views, their feelings, and through their comments i could hear that most of my intentions were caught by the audience. It’s like having a very fluid communication between them and me, and that makes me feel very good, and a deep feeling to be understood, which is really important to me, especially these days. The feedback was very respectful and they gave it by finding the right words. Also, it’s given me a lot of energy cause I’m really happy that it could really make sense to other people. I’m really happy about this adventure with the female film festival.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I always knew I wanted to create, and before that I did create two video performances with dance and poetry. It’s like I’m having a gold triangle “writing, dance and vidèo” , so with covid I did realise to go back on stage it’ll be difficult so I really wanted to do something, and I said ok, let’s do a short film and not a show performance.

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

Arizona dreams, Once upon a time in America, Matrix, the green line, shawshank redemption, inception, kill bill…and a lot of animation like “spirited away”.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I really like to have feedback, that was very pleasant and it gives you a way to measure the impact of the movie. It’ll be so nice to travel and meet some people with these movies, and be involved in a whirling of connections and be in dynamic exchange and make a way that the movie is viewed by as many people as it could be. I even maybe want it to make a very short version as a preventive campaign for cigarettes.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

It Helps à lot because I do everything and whoooo, it makes it very simple for me, because I just want to make the next one.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I really do like Couscous.

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

I’m already working on my next short film, which I hope I could go more further, now I ‘m on a production stage, but I hope I can shoot here in March 2022. And as I said, I plan to create an event with “Smoking “and travel in Belgium and in foreign places as much as I can to speak about addiction and mental health.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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