"One of the main reasons why I wanted to make the film is because the Civil War's still going on in America. There's still many people that want to hold onto the Confederacy as this great concept that had nothing to do with slavery. But if you honestly look at history, and you read books outside of battlefield books, you quickly find out that it was all about slavery. So that's the chief reason why I wanted to make the film, to finally give the history of America from this other point of view. The Confederate flag still flies over the State of Mississippi, over the State House. You still see it on a lot of people's cars and trucks. You still see Hollywood making movies that celebrate the Confederacy, in various ways, as a sad, lost cause. A great civilisation gone with the wind, as Gone with the Wind calls it. But from the slave point of view, there's nothing civilised about it. "
Daniel Grant, a fourth-year archaeology student at University College London, has just seen the premiere of his first feature film, Dark Night, which he wrote and directed. It is the horrific tale of a house party gone terribly wrong, as the guests find themselves stalked by a mystifying evil presence. Here, he gives his view on the whole experience…
"Zero Day could never have been made in Hollywood. Elephant [Gus Van Sant‘s Columbine-inspired film], I don't think, could even have been made in Hollywood. The larger studios would never touch it. Not before. Not after. Maybe in a long time from now. I remember watching Columbine on television and thinking to myself, ‘God, someday somebody's going to make some awful Columbine epic and it's going to stress the heroism of the day, however they find it.' Not that there wasn't heroism, I'm not trying to make light of the people that did heroic things in real life, but that, to me, is unfortunately not the significant story. It is a significant story, and someone could tell that, definitely. But I think the thing that America is culturally reeling from is, how could this happen? Why would this happen? And what, if anything, can we take away from this?"
“A common thing that I come to again and again is I’m very drawn to stories where people face what they are capable of. I think that society is a big construct that we’ve erected to keep from too close knowledge of ourselves, because we’re all capable of much more than we want to admit to ourselves, and that’s both for good and for bad. I’m very drawn to stories where people find themselves in a situation where they can maybe make their own rules. When they’re in a grey area, and the rules are up to them, what will they find that they can really do that they didn’t think they could do before? That’s one thing that drew me to this story.
“Another thing I loved was that it was an opportunity to write a really smart teenage female protagonist. I have two daughters and I love stories in which young women really sort of kick some tail. I’ve been a big fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for years. I’ve also been influenced on some level by [Abel Ferrara’s] Ms. 45, which I found a really striking and disturbing film; disturbing for me being a good thing.”
"We made Hard Candy for under a million dollars, we shot it in 18 days, and the reason we did that was because if we hadn't, we would have been forced to change the script and make it a little more lightweight. That was never something we wanted to do. Or would do. In fact this is a rare instance where the filmmakers set out to make a film and pretty much made the film they wanted to make. I said to Brian [Nelson, the screenwriter], ‘Do they realise what we're doing?' and he'd kind of look at me and go, ‘I don't think they do, no.'
"It has become almost normalised to portray women of whatever age as a sexual object - almost accepted within the structure of society - and to prime a child for that end is a dangerous thing. But it is the norm here, and many other places, and if you are irresponsible as a male and seek to exploit a young woman, society has set up the odds in your favour."
It was announced at Cannes this year that Vietnamese zen monk Thich Naht Hanh's biography of the Buddha, Old Path White Clouds, would form the basis of Dr BK Modi's long gestating $120m Buddha biopic. The film was originally floated 12 years ago at a time when Mira Nair was set to direct, and has now - with the support of the Dalai Lama - resurfaced driven by billionaire Indian media tycoon Modi. The production is expected to be directed by Shekher Kapor and executive produced by Michel Shane and Anthony Romano ("I Robot," "Catch Me If You Can") who have talked about making the film 'like Gladiator meets Lawrence of Arabia'.
However, it is the involvement of Naht Hanh that grabbed my interest. "I discovered the book two years ago and it changed my life, and I felt it was up to me to share my happiness with the world." says Modi of Naht Hanh's Old Path White Clouds, which has sold 1m copies in the US. Exiled from his homeland of Vietnam since the 60s only to return last year, author of some 80 books, Naht Hanh ('Thay') is tireless in speaking up for peace and international understanding. In nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr Martin Luther King said: 'I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of [this prize] than this gentle monk from Vietnam. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.' It's quite hard to know what Dr King means without reading some of Thich Naht Hanh's writing - what follows is an interview made shortly after September 11, as he was promoting the book I first came across him through, Anger.
(KL) "We could have made a whole film of brutal acts and gone on for twenty-four hours. I mean just imagine it: they slit a man's throat, they tie him to a cart, they drag him for a mile and kill him. They beat a man's skull in. A woman comes to the door with a child in her arms, they shoot the mother. I mean how much brutality do you have to show for someone to actually take it and say, ‘Yes, we did that', without trying to get a sort of dagger in underneath?
"Everything that has emerged has been a protest, sometimes a violent protest, sometimes an aberrant protest, but nevertheless a protest, from the brutality of the British and the brutality of the British Empire embodied in bastards like Churchill, who not only sent the troops into Ireland, he sent the troops against Welsh miners in his own country when they wanted a decent wage. So we should have no tolerance at all for these questions that try to indicate that somehow the resistance to British brutality is not acceptable."
" We see these things happen on the television, and of course we’re shocked and momentarily we stop, pay our respects, but then we want to carry on with our lives, untouched, because it’s the World Cup coming, because I’m going to the pub, because I’ve got my holiday booked, and all that. And what we expect of these families is having had their anointed moment as victims, they disappear. But if you’re a family, compelled against your will and never expecting it to happen, parked up against the overwhelming psychological imperative to seek meaning, you refuse to accept victimhood. You demand to speak. You demand that we all address this issue. Why has this happened? What are we going to do about it?
these images of a bloody struggle for the controls of a plane that’s plunging to the earth is an image that speaks to where we’re going if we’re not very careful
“But we don’t really want to do that because to do it involves profound change, so you find often that we have this question, ‘Is it too early to do a film about 9/11?’ We don’t mean for them. They say, ‘Why wasn’t the film made the day after?’ We mean it’s too early for us to stop having our summer holidays and get to grips with this thing. Because we know what the context of this thing is. Every one of us, from wherever we are on the political spectrum, and whatever we think about what’s going on, know, ultimately, deep down, that our world is divided by this Western pocket of extraordinary modernity and wealth, and the rest of the world is a seething cauldron of resentment and anger...
"And obviously, clearly, clearly, we’re not
improving the situation, the situation’s getting worse. So maybe we
should go back to the place where it began. Wherever you are on the
political spectrum, I think it’s common ground that something happened
that day that caused our perceptions to change. So let’s sit down and
tell the story of this one event and see what that tells us.”
Three decades ago, at the age of 12, Priyanandanan walked 12 kilometres to earn two and a half rupees per day at a ceramic factory, to support his family. Today, he is a top-rung Malayalam film director, with a string of national and international awards under his belt. In his struggle to make a mark for himself, Priyanandanan, unknowingly, created a grassroots movement, which supports low-budget, high-quality cinema in Kerala, in India's southwest. Currently he is in Mumbai to promote his second directorial venture, Pulijanmam (Tiger Life).
- Bringing Open Source to Filmmaking, an Elephant's Dream?
- ANNA PAQUIN - Girl With The X-factor
- Paul Trijbits: Red Road and Ken Loach Cannes double is dream swansong
- John Howard: The Key to Self Publishing
- Dan Hartley - from Harry Potter to Joseff Hughes
- SCREENWRITER MILO ADDICA - Darkness reigns in The King
- Look Who's Hawking - Meet Welsh Mountain Short Makers Alias McMahon & Jones
- Movie Industry Lines Up For A Starbucks Coffee Buzz
- JEANNE MOREAU - The legendary star of Francois Ozon's Time to Leave
- DOMINIC SAVAGE - Romance and racism in Love + Hate