TFF ’17: Quotes from Directors

Source: The Film Watch – a publication of the Telluride Film Festival + Telluride newspapers

Scott Cooper – “If one travels, as I do, outside the liberal circles of New York and Los Angeles, into the heartland where I’m from, you get a strong sense that there are two Americas. I’ve chronicled those in a couple of my films, and I find this kind of fractured state of the union something that is worth mining.”

“He [Masanobu Takayanagi] understands that through composition and movement you can forge an emotional connection with the audience. For me, that’s the most important thing: to transport the audience into an emotional connection, and then hope that the film lingers with them well after they leave the cinema.”

Agnes Varda – “This time, with our little magic truck going here and there, we met people who say what they know about and feel about. They have opinions. I think it’s good to make a film in which there is no story, no screenplay, no acting, no guns, no fight, no car race, no suspense, no violence.”

“We were working to give it the texture of cinema. It’s a documentary, and we insist that it IS a documentary. But it has texture.”

Ziad Doueiri – “Lebanon became a little lighthouse — open to the West and very attached to its Arabic roots. That’s why [the extreme groups] Daesh and ISIS couldn’t penetrate Lebanon. We are not strong militarily, but we do not want extremism.”

“The film [The Attack] was consequently boycotted in all the Arab countries. I felt very hurt by it, because I really wanted this movie to be shown in Lebanon.”

“I never sat down to write any of my films to give a message to the society. I don’t give a shit about that. I sat down because something woke me up and started to make sense. Then the story is put together in your mind. That’s the pleasure of it.”

Chloe Zhao – “I went to high school in L.A. and then lived in New York for 12 years, and felt like I didn’t know the real America. I didn’t know what’s in between the coasts.”

“To help the audience understand why these people have such a strong identity attached to that place, to really capture that way of life that young cowboy actually experienced every day, we needed more poetry and emotion. We had to use that technique. If you go to Indian reservation in South Dakota and just point the camera, this is journalistic style. Unfortunately, there’s already judgment in our society towards these images.”

Rezo Gigineishvili – “The name Hostages does not only refer to the hijacking of the plane, but it also describes the heroes of this story, who were hostages of their fears and delusions, just like their fathers were.”

“Dostoevsky said, :’We don’t know how we will behave in certain situations. No need to judge and label one another. It’s better to seek the truth. It’s easier to judge and harder to analyze and sympathize.'”

Andrew Heigh – “The other actors, Steve [Buscemi] and Steve [Zahn] and Chloe, all have a quality of kindness. I wanted that in the film. Even if they do shitty things, there’s an inherent goodness.”

“There’s a power and simplicity in his [Bresson] work, which ended up lingering on in your mind. I love work that, when you watch it, it is one thing, and then in your mind afterwards, it becomes something else.”

Samuel Maoz – “If I had to say the meaning of Foxtrot in one sentence, I would say it is the story of a man’s dance with his fate. A conflict between love and guilt; love that copes with extreme emotional pain. I wanted to continue to investigate this human dynamic in an intensive manner that combines criticism and compassion.”

Mohammad Rasoulof – “The film begins at a point where he’s run away from the capital to the north of Iran. Here, he’s made a place for himself. He wishes to be his own man. He has already lost once, and by leaving the game, he’s chosen not to win. Given the choice between being a tyrant or a victim, he’s decided to choose neither.”

“When anything from the outside puts Reza under pressure, he’s able to find an inner sense of serenity, a little bit like the fish immersed in water. He attempts to simplify life and, with his homemade wine, to forget the thing that’s in front of his face, or behind him — all that’s happened in the past.”

Guillermo Del Toro – “Cinema was born with two vocations: the Lumieres, who have the vocation of chronicling and give rise to all those filmmakers interested in reporting, and Melies, who gives rise to parable, and who gives birth to all of us interested in parable. Those are the two realities which cinema has access to.”

“A film like The Shape of Water is tonally very difficult. The camera style, how the camera moves, has to be in unity with the actors. The actors have to be emotionally realistic, but they cannot feel like they were taken out of a Sidney Lumet film.”

Paul Schrader – “There are many kinds of slow cinema. I’ve been writing about this. There is the ultraslow cinema — making time a participant in the narrative, How long you watch these people becomes part of what you think about them. What do you think about when nothing happens? You think about something when nothing happens.”

“The major conversation I had with him [Ethan Hawke] was about the difference between the performance that you lean into and the one you lean away from. I said, ‘This is a performance that you may need to lean away from.’ He understood that immediately.”

“It [Taxi Driver] has the same kind of narrative glue. The same mental logic holds it together. It also was written in the same format as Taxi Driver — the first time I went back to that chapter format.”

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