Interview with Filmmaker Ivan Maria Friedman (GUARDIANS OF PARADISE)

GUARDIANS OF PARADISE was the winner of Best Direction at the December 2021 Experimental Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I wanted to talk about the incredible people I’ve met in Myanmar, especially the inhabitants of a small city called Bagan, an important Buddhist and historical site where I shot most of the film. Myanmar was closed to tourism for a long time and most people around the world don’t know much about it, despite it is one of the most beautiful places on earth. However, it’s the people’s nature, their values and lifestyle that touched me the most. Myanmar people cultivate compassion as a way of life. Despite this being one of the poorest countries in the world and having suffered all sorts of abuse due to dictatorship in their country in the past 60 years, they are outstandingly generous, and they conserved an unbelievable courage and power of resilience. I thought that they have a message to tell the rest of the world, and possibly also something significant to teach us.

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

I started shooting at the end of 2018 and finished the film mid 2021. So it took at least 2 years and a half.

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

Peace and freedom

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

The biggest difficulty was that after I left, their beautiful world broke apart after yet another military coup, that caused 1500 death amongst civilians and a massive humanitarian crisis in the country. That was a very hard thing to deal with, knowing that I made many good friends there and many of the people in the film are now living in fear and very difficult conditions. But on the other side, it also gave me the energy to show to the world how beautiful and peaceful these people are.

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

It’s actually the first time I am submitting a film to festivals, so your viewers’ reaction was the first experience of this kind. I could feel that people living far away from me were touched by the film. I was also truly touched by this, and I am grateful for their kind comments.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

After I watched “The tree of Life” by Terrence Malick. This film had a big impact on the way I saw cinema and the possibilities that this art offers. It convinced me that this is what I wanted to do.

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

I am open to all styles and genres, but I have some favorite director whose work I have been watching more and that truly inspired me: Terrence Malick, Andrej Tarkovsky, Béla Tarr to name a few.

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 wouldn’t know. I feel you took great care of us!

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

It was good. Well organized and easy to work with.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Italian food in general.

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

Yes I have two projects I am working on, one of them is a longer version of Guardians of Paradise that I hope will be ready during the course of this year.

By matthewtoffolo

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

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