Interview with Filmmaker Roshanak Jaberi  (THE WOMAN IN WHITE)

THE WOMAN IN WHITE play to rave reviews at the July 2022 Toronto DOCUMENTARY Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I made this film during the pandemic, when live performance venues were shut down. Many dance artists were adapting their work to film and experimenting with digital art, but at the time I wasn’t particularly motivated to do that. I’ve always loved documentaries and was interested in exploring the genre. Ana’s story inspired me to take that leap.

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

We actually shot the film in one day because we had a very small budget. But from start to finish the project took about six months, which included concept development, preparing Ana for the interview, and post-production. It was a wonderful collaboration with Danielle (the cinematographer), who helped bring my vision to life.

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

Intimate and honest.

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

The biggest obstacle was time and budget. I do wish we had more time to shoot and to explore the full scope of Ana’s story. But perhaps this constraint forced us to be more deliberate and intuitive with our choices.

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

We put a lot of thought and care into how the story was told, and I was happy to hear that our intentions were communicated to the audience.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

There are many similarities between dance and film, so it feels like a natural transition for me. As a first time filmmaker, I relied a lot on my creative intuition and drew on my experience as a choreographer. My dance work tends to be very imagistic, so I applied the same sensibilities to film. You can make choices on camera that wouldn’t necessarily work on stage, and I enjoy exploring those possibilities.

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

I can’t think of a film I’ve watched the most, but I can tell you a film that I’d love to watch again. It’s called On Her Shoulders, the story of Nadia Murad. I thought it was beautifully shot and I loved the way the director, Alexandria Bombach, captured the emotion and humanity in Nadia’s story.

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

An opportunity to get feedback from veteran filmmakers would be very valuable for new filmmakers like myself.

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

Working through FilmFreeway has been a great experience. It’s made the process very simple and easy.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Anything on the BBQ.

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

I recently co-directed a dance film called Slipping, which is currently in the editing phase. We’re looking forward to screening it this fall.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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