Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

A Talk with Sergei Bodrov
Getting to Know Genghis

In Sergei Bodrov’s latest film, Mongol, the director gets inside the head of Genghis Kahn so that we understand a little about what made him tick. And he’s well aware that getting touchy-feely about despots isn’t popular. “Look,” he says. “Don’t you think it’s kind of ignorant to judge people who lived eight hundred years ago, who were fighting on horses with swords, after what’s happened in the 20th Century? It was the worst century, and the most inhuman. You had two world wars, the Holocaust, Nazi camps, Stalin’s camps, nukes, chemical weapons. It was insane and cruel, just the worst century in history. And you’re still just talking about the cruelty of the guy?”

A Talk with Chris Bell
Blowing the Whistle on Yourself

“I think our film helps to educate kids,” says Chris Bell, director of the upcoming documentary Bigger, Stronger, Faster. “I showed it to about five hundred high school kids in Toronto, and a lot of those kids came up to me and thanked me for telling them the truth and not hitting them over the head with statements like they hear in commercials—like, ‘Steroids will shrink your balls.’ Then there’s the one with the statue of David falling apart, and it says, ‘Steroids won’t make you a great athlete, they’ll destroy you.’ But then they watch Barry Bonds hit 756 home runs and they’re thinking, ‘Will it really destroy you?’”

A Talk With Errol Morris
Truth Is Hard To Find

A product of the 1970s and the San Francisco Art Institute, Errol Morris became an overnight sensation with 1988’s The Thin Blue Line, a film which examined the case of Randall Dale Adams, on death row for the murder of a Dallas area police officer… and eventually led to his release. “It’s hard for me to even imagine how people experience my films,” he said while promoting his new film, Standard Operating Procedure. “I’m so involved with thinking about them and making them. It’s always been my hope that they can be taken on lots and lots of different levels. They can be taken as just entertainment. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. They are, after all, supposed to be movies.”

A Talk With Eduardo Verástegui
Don’t Bother Preparing Questions

Eduardo Verástegui has lived the movie-star life… South of the Border style. He is right, I think, in observing that we “have this tendency and inclination to imitate or copy what we see on film or television, and what we read in magazines or interviews.” But he has unhitched himself from the star cart, instead lending his talents to entertainment with a purpose. “I have to see this as an opportunity,” he says, “to say a few words of hope, so when people read those interviews they will be influenced in a positive way. Because I myself, when I was a teenager, all these things that I did—many of them—I was influenced by the magazines I was reading and the TV shows I was watching, and the movies I was watching. And now that I look back, I think, My gosh! I can’t believe I was influenced by this person’s interview! I was imitating everything that people were saying in that interview; and they were not good things, you know?”

A Talk With Chiwetel Ejiofor
The Problem with True Believers

Chiwetel Ejiofor, who stars as Jiu-Jitsu guru Mike Terry in David Mamet’s upcoming film Redbelt, is very much drawn to playing men of character. “These people still do exist,” he says, “even though, in the wider society, it’s become unpopular to point out people like this without trying to find fault in them, without trying to find where they’ve maybe done the wrong thing. But society runs well, for the most part, because there are people of good conscience and good self-knowledge and awareness—even if they don’t consciously have a code of ethics that they live by.”

A Talk With P.Z. Myers
A Respectable Discussion

“I’m a loud and proud atheist, and I make no bones about it. I think Christianity is a disaster—that religion in general is an affliction on society—that what we have here is a set of myths that people use to shape their lives, and it’s all a big mistake,” says Myers. “They can acquire comfort from it, and I can understand that; I was a member of a church for many years. [But] sensitive-minded liberal Christians are sitting there silently while fundamentalists are taking over the schools. So we are screaming loudly, and we’re screaming loudly at the Christians in general—not because the Christians are entirely to blame for these problems, but because too many of them have been sitting there just too darn quiet.”

A Talk With Bob Cilman
Living and Dying with Pride and Hope

Bob Cilman, musical director of the Young @ Heart chorus, is pleased that the film named after his group is bringing the talents of these post-retirement-age singers to a new audience. While the singers are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s, Cilman has observed that the audiences tend to be on the “younger” side. Courtesy of a local publicist, I had the chance to talk with Cilman over the phone about the group, the film, and his own background. Neither a musical documentary nor a film about music itself, Young @ Heart, is about the people making the music, about the sacrifices they make, about living and dying with pride and hope, and about connecting with others. Says Cilman, “It’s all about uniting people.”

A Talk with Richard Jenkins
A Long Way from Silverado

In The Visitor, long-time character actor Richard Jenkins plays Walter Vale, an emotionally-repressed professor and widower who discovers life and love through a chance encounter with illegal Syrian immigrants in Manhattan. The film is about numerous things: music, change, the ways in which “home” can become an alien place; and how being a visitor allows you to see things in a new light. Courtesy of a local publicist, I spent about twenty minutes in a downtown Seattle hotel suite chatting with Jenkins about a wide variety of topics, from his favorite experience on stage to his two-scene role in Silverado. It was a fun talk, as Jenkins has had a long and colorful career on the stage and screen.

Another Talk With Kevin Miller
Writing Films Until It Hurts

“On a movie, everybody knows how to make a script better,” says Expelled screenwriter Kevin Miller. “But nobody can tell a director how to make a movie better. You’re definitely on the bottom of a dogpile. That’s the life of it. I used to tell writers, ‘That’s not you on the page, so if they’re criticizing what you’ve written, don’t take it personally; it’s just words.’ But in the last couple of years, I’ve really changed my tune. I’ve gone through probably my two most difficult years as a writer; and I say now that if it doesn’t hurt, you haven’t put enough of yourself into it.”

A Talk With Kevin Miller
On the Road to Somewhere

“I think it’s incredibly difficult to make a movie, period, because you have so many different opinions in the mix,” articulates screenwriter Kevin Miller. “Getting money is probably the most difficult part. So I always go back to that line from Young Guns, Billy the Kid saying, ‘There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip.’ To me, that describes the whole process. So any time you get a good movie, you know, it’s just short of a miracle… It’s a long journey from the initial impulse to the finished film; and protecting your original vision is nearly impossible for a beginning filmmaker or screenwriter. So as soon as I can, I want to become a writer-producer and have a lot more control over every stage of the process.”

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