Interview with Filmmaker Sachin Jain (Un Chantier d’Amour – A Scaffolding Of Love)

“Un Chantier d’Amour – A Scaffolding Of Love” was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the January 2022 Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I woke up one morning to find workers outside a gaping rectangular hole in my wall, on scaffolding. I could see their silhouettes through the sheer sheeting they had covered it with. Flecks of cement were falling on it as it rustled in the breeze. I was mesmerized and I fetched my phone, placed it on a stool and just filmed it in black and white. As the days went by, I found the windows, the openings to the world outside, take on a life of their own, as I remained apartment-bound. I just followed a primal, visceral feel, which drew me to filming either rooms or objects in the house, or the workers, or the chores I did, all overlaid by the soundtrack of my housebound existence – the news of COVID cases and deaths, the incongruous euphoria on the business channels as stocks hit new highs, the workers conversing and lamenting the lockdown, or just the soundscape of daily life around, which I started paying attention to. As I filmed a lot of footage over a few months, I came to realize… hmm, maybe there’s a story in there somewhere.

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

About 6 months.

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

Rhythmic solitude

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

The edit, without doubt. Since it was just black and white frames capturing daily life, I had several conversations with the editor about the rhythms of the film, how to convey the disambiguated lockdown experience in a coherent manner that the audience would feel. So much of what I felt was subconscious and so it was buried under layers of subtlety. I wondered whether someone who hadn’t had my experience would even relate to it.

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

Absolute joy. LOVE YOU FOR THIS! This film has made it to 18 festivals and won at 9, but no one has collated such thoughtful and insightful audience feedback so beautifully. I cannot tell you how much it means.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

I’m a Spanish teacher in a school. I have consumed tons of world cinema since my teens, but coming from the traditional, strait-laced Indian middle class, I never imagined this was something for me. This film was a catharsis from the experience of a lockdown, my way of dealing with the situation that we found ourselves in. But now, I am excited, I feel I have something to say, and thanks to the love and encouragement of many like yourselves, I want to do more.

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

I saw “Fresa y Chocolate” (Cuba, 1994), marched halfway across town, and came out to a professor at my engineering school. I was completely obsessed with “Les Roseaux Sauvages” by André Téchiné (France, 1994). We hung on for dear life to queer cinema in the late 1990s, as it was the only way to validate our experience and cement our identity, given that we were unapprehended felons under Indian law criminalizing homosexual sex at that time. So “Philadelphia”, “Happy Together”, “Fremde Haut” and many others were films I watched several times. I think this particular film was influenced by Jean Genet’s “Un chant d’amour” (therein the play on words of the title, this is my call-back to Genet from across 60 years and several seas), as well as Abbas Kiarostami’s “24 Frames”, his last work, that I didn’t much think of at that time, but affected me profoundly- thence the black and white still frames.

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

By getting us the feedback, you guys have done so much already. Bummer about the online nature of filmfests currently – I wish I could have been there in Toronto, hobnobbing with you all, and huddling together to watch all the other films! But I’m sure we will all get there soon, fingers crossed!

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

Filmfreeway has been great. Although I’ve spent three months of my teacher salary on sending the films to festivals alone! I would never have found you guys otherwise, so thanks to FilmFreeway.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Ooh, I love Indian food – Amritsari Kulchaa with chhole bhature, palak paneer, anything lovingly made, hot, and well-flavoured.

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

I teach IB MYP and DP in an international school, so I am immersed in the academic year. Waiting for summer break to begin something new. Got a few scripts down so excited!!

By matthewtoffolo

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

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