Interview with Filmmaker Irene Blei (A LETTER FROM LETICIA)

A LETTER FROM LETICIA played to rave reviews at the April 2018 Under 5 Minute FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The idea of this film came at the moment we were working on an hommage, 38 years after the kidnapping of a group of school mates by military task forces in 1976/1977, seeking for pictures in which the missing students could be seen. There weren’t so many photographs in those days, so any document could be useful and I insisted in looking for and gathering old school report cards, notebooks, or drawings too.

During that search, our friend Claudia brought this letter, addressed to her by Leticia and kept, and it was really touching for me. After all that time, and aware of what had happened, every line in this letter sounded meaningful to me, and I so intended to make it visible. It was a coincidence that at the time I was then experimenting with watercolor painting.

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

It took me about five months.

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

Animated Documentary.

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

Facing sadness was the worst part of it, and also dwelling with some of our former school mates emotions, that had been contained for so long. I literally cried over the painting of each tear in the film.

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

It was highly moving to have a film done by yourself seen and understood in another country, another hemisphere, in a differet context by an audience with whom I did not share a common past or idiosyncrasy. I feel deeply grateful to the Festival for this brilliant idea of getting audience feedback.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I intended to make the real story, which affected so many people and not only Leticia Veraldi, widely visible through this letter. There have been at least 30000 victims of state terrorism in Argentina. After so many years facts are still not well known, even in my own country. Picturing it was difficult because of the lack of images, just some photos, and I felt like not showing her at all as a painted portrait. But that was impossible, so I reduced showing a drawn girl as less as possible. I thought that watercolor and transformations could help me avoid a direct, figurative approach. I also tried to place myself in that moment of Leticia’s life and youth, going back to the images that the text brings about.

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

I am a great fan of Canadian, Russian and Czech Animation. So I have seen some of these films hundreds of times, because as a teacher, I also show them.

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

FilmFreeway is really easy and friendly. I love it.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Maybe some by local artists: Mercedes Sosa, Leon Gieco, Charly Garcia. And also Brazillian Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso ad Raimundo Fagner.

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

I am taking part in an animation jam with other women animators. Then, a new film, and maybe a book too. Meanwhile and besides: I will be busy with some workshops or seminars. I enjoy teaching as much as filmmaking.

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Interviewer Matthew Toffolo is currently the CEO of the WILDsound FEEDBACK Film & Writing Festival. The festival that showcases 20-50 screenplay and story readings performed by professional actors every single month. And the FEEDBACK Monthly Festival held in downtown Toronto, and Los Angeles at least 3 times a month. Go to http://www.wildsoundfestival.com for more information and to submit your work to the festival.

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Interview with director Gonzalo Cotelo (MAMMA)

MAMMA was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the January 2018 Under 5min. Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Gonzalo Cotelo: I think almost every filmmaker is lured at a certain point with the idea of making a one shot film, and so was I. I also wanted to tell a simple and yet powerful story and play with the audience almost exclusively with visual narrative and camera work.

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

It was exactly one week during a stay in a summer film campus and traveling festival in Italy.

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

unsettlingly gripping!

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

The blocking with the actors and timing of the events, as I wanted it to be intense and yet have a filmic pace.

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

It was amazing to see how people felt about the film exactly as I had planned it! the lack of subtitles, the camera work, the final reveal… it is a confirmation that all those crazy ideas weren’t that crazy after all.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I love a film called “Nine Lives” by Rodrigo García, nine short stories about female characters shot in 9 continuous long shots. And the first one features a pregnant woman, played by Robin Wright, in a supermarket. That was the first inspiration for the story, the first primordial image that I later developed into a different path when I decided that my character will be in a close up during the whole film, and the camera would never abandon her until the very last moment revealing the main piece of information that I decided to withhold from the audience. I also love an Ukranian film called “The Tribe”, acted entirely on sign language and without any subtitles, which I thought was simple and brilliant, it really forces the audience to pay attention. And I knew it would also help the public to connect with the main character and feel as lost as she feels not understanding what is going on between the two hitmen.

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

Definitely one of the original Star Wars trilogy films, I couldn’t tell you which one though (probably Return of the Jedi)

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

It is indeed very useful, particularly now with the number of films being made and film festivals being held everywhere across the world. The structure and layout of the website simplifies the whole process.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

A Beatles song for sure, I’d go for “Lucy in the sky with Diamonds”.

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

Yeah, a new one, a bit longer than five minutes hopefully. I live and work in Kuwait at the moment but I´d like to go back to Spain in summer to write and start producing again, I miss it!
mamma

Interview with director Jelle Bleyenbergh (THE FLOW)

THE FLOW was the winner of BEST MUSIC at the January 2018 Under 5min. Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jelle Bleyenbergh: Being active as an editor and cameraman in the advertising industry, I had longed to make something of my very own again for a while. The last time I had made a film was in graduation year at film school. Going on holiday to the amazing country of Iceland with fellow filmmakers, was the ideal spark to create a film from start to finish. Plus, my new life experiences gave me something cinematic to tell.

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

I came up with a screenplay around January 2017, which later on, I drastically changed into something shorter and more recognisable. The original idea was far too artsy and long, I felt like I needed something easier to watch for this particular feeling I wanted to convey. So around March, I had written my definitive little screenplay; I successfully contacted Stefán, a local actor and vlogger in Iceland, who was enthusiastic about the idea and willing and able to play the part. We shot environment shots of ‘The Flow’ in the course of a small week, and all the shots with Stefán were shot in one long day. When we got back home in Belgium, postproduction took no less than a month, because I could only edit in my spare time and because I wanted to get the film just right. So all in all, from the original idea to finished product, it took five months.

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

Let go.

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

You’re not gonna believe it, but it was finding the right compass. The compass was an essential prop to tell my story, but I figured it would be easy to find somewhere so I postponed looking for it. Two weeks before we went to Iceland, I found out it wasn’t easy at all. No one I knew had a compass that was small enough; I nearly bought a good one second hand for which I would have had to drive hours to pick up. Then I decided to simply buy one I found online in an international shop… and it nearly didn’t make it in time through the post. I received it a few days before we travelled to Iceland. I never thought a compass would be my biggest source of stress through making the whole film. It now rests on my shelf as a good reminder to always be prepared in time for the simplest of things.

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

I smiled. And I was happy to hear a woman recognised one of the locations, and that the film gave her the feeling she had when she was there. Job well done, it seems!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

My experience in life these past years, taught me that it’s good sometimes to let go of everything I know and take an unfamiliar but more liberating path. The analogy with driving through the landscapes in Iceland and leaving the car, that was a nice little setup of a story waiting to happen.

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

Probably ‘Inception’ by Christopher Nolan. Watched it twice in cinemas and countless times at home. That film is the holy grail of spectacular editing to me, from story to music.

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

It’s such a handy platform, with an easy search function and a clear overview of your film details. I can’t think of a better nor faster way to spread your work across the globe.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Big cliché, but probably ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen. ‘Full Circle’ by Half Moon Run is my current favorite song to daydream to, and has been for many years now.

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

Not sure yet, but I will at least write a new screenplay this year for a short film. And I will definitely direct one again in the not so distant future, even though my heart is truly drawn to editing.

the_flow_2

 

Interview with Lucy Lee (VOICING SILENCE)

Short Film played to rave reviews at the Under 5 Minute Film Festival in June 2017.

To learn more about the film and filmmaker, go to her website: https://instinctfilms.wordpress.com/documentary/voicing-silenc/

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

I have always aimed to make independent films that explore issues that are important for me, and through doing this I hope to add to the worldwide dialogue on how to live a happy and fulfilled life. To do this we sometimes have to face some difficult topics. I aim to make films that help change the way people think by encouraging dialogue. I hope this film encourages people to think about this subject.

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

8 months, around other work commitments.

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

Personal story.

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

Working round other commitments, and worry that the film may not do the subject justice.

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

Fear, followed by interest.

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

This film was made with my friend Abhi, who approached me with her voice recording and asked if I would be interested in make a film with it. My initial response was to use metaphor to juxtapose with the very graphic narration. However Abhi explained that the problem with this issue in India is that no-one will talk about it, so it is touched on in euphemism, hints or silence. She wanted to challenge this silence, be direct and stir up emotions, in response to this I decided to be more direct with the visual approach. She sent me photos of herself at that age, the area, and links to things that reminded her of the place and times, so I included these as references and in the design. I also included references to Lachmi, as the young girl wearing red and standing on a lotus carpet design, and the dance she is doing at the start (Bharatanatyam) is one practiced by higher caste Hindu girls as an expression of spiritual ideals. I did this because I wanted to heighten the incongruence between the idolised feminine and contempt for women and girls that leads to sexual abuse. I also used insects as a metaphor to add an extra layer of emotion and keep the audience active in their reading of the film. After making the middle section of the film, I felt that there needed to be some resolution to this experience, so I asked Abhi to record thoughts on how she felt about it now, and why she wanted to tell this story. She also told me that these thoughts occur to her when she goes running, which she likes to do to relieve stress. I liked the idea of contrasting the present with the past by highlighting that she is now in a different place physically and mentally. The live action, jogging, black and white, northern hemisphere winter, wealthy River Thames, is a good contrast to her childhood memories in India, bright colours, heat, rich culture, fixed camera, drawn animation. It highlighted the idea of a flashback memory that still continues to affect and motivate us many years down the line.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

‘Hedgehog in the Fog’ by Yuri Norstien

What song have you listened to the most in your life

I like to listen to and look at the work of everyday artists, normal people like you and me who create to communicate and to connect with other people. I like to buy the CDs of musicians busking on the street, and this is how I discovered the work of Daniel Waples. So at the moment I am particularly loving a Hang In Balance album called ‘Hang & Violin’ (https://hanginbalance.bandcamp.com/album/hang-violin-download-by-donation). I’m also loving an album by Spooky RedRum, ‘The Illusion of Time’ (https://spookyredrum.bandcamp.com/), for which I am making a music video for the song ‘The Dream’ by Nefeli Stamatogiannopoulou.

What is next for you? A new film?

I will make more films of course, but at the moment I am working on an illustrated book (and a music video, and a dance video).

VOICING SILENCE, 3min, UK, Animation
Directed by Lucy LeeHow do you move forward when events from a distant past continue to cast their grim shadow on the present? Can breaking the silence ever bring a much longed for quietude? Voicing Silence is one woman’s attempt to find her words that have remained muted for so long.CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Interview with director Jeff Draheim (THE SNOWMAN’S HAT)

Short Film played to rave reviews at the Under 5 Minute Film Festival in June 2017.

 Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

I love stop motion animation, and I love trying to tell a story visually with no dialogue.

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

I made this film in my garage in my spare time. I nurtured the idea for almost a year, but once I started production the whole process took about 7 weeks.

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

Be patient.

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

I used white clay for the snowman. It attracted ever spec of dust in my garage. After filming the animation I had to create a filter in After Effects to the final frames to remove the dust but still retain the clay texture. The filter required hours of rendering for each shot.

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

I loved hearing the comments! A few people were offering a deeper meaning to my film then I ever envisioned. Their comments reinforce just how subjective art can be.

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I was partially inspired by the antics of the Olaf character in the movie “Frozen”.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Jaws. I am a life-long fan of moves. I try to see as many as I can.

What song have you listened to the most in your life

My musical tastes are very diverse; classic rock, sound track scores, musicals, Jazz. I couldn’t begin to guess which song I’ve listened to the most.

What is next for you? A new film?

I like to make about 1 film a year. I’m currently nurturing a few ideas but I always like to have a solid story before I begin.

 

THE SNOWMAN’S HAT, 2min, USA, Animation
Directed by Jeff DraheimA stop motion snowman adventure.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!

Interview with Director Axel d’Harcourt (WOW)

Short Film played to rave reviews at the Under 5 Minute Film Festival in June 2017.

 Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Love.

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

Around one year from the first exchanges on the idea, around 3 months from the concrete launch of the project, the scenario almost finalized.

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

Circle and desir.

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

Finding the right couple to play our story.

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

First of all an extreme pleasure and then an attention to each word to fully understand the perception of the film in the minds of people.

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

Making love is often a story of back and forth, we have extrapolated this vision to the whole of a love story.

What film have you seen the most in your life?

Mulholland drive / Rocky

What song have you listened to the most in your life

“Fade into you” Mazzy star
“Enjoy the silence” Depeche Mode

What is next for you? A new film?

Feature films and series… After love, perhaps a theme not so often developed in a new form: old age.

 

WOW, 4min, France, Drama/Romance
Directed by Axel d’HarcourtWOW relates the cycle of desire between two lovers. The end is the beginning. The beginning is the end.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!