Sunday, October 26, 2008

[TIFF 2008 Press Conference] Award Winners Press Conference

Here's an excerpt of the press conference held after the awards ceremony, with the participation of the winning category's cast and crew.

Special Jury Prize: 4 Nights With Anna - Director Jerzy Skolimowski (JS)

Q: How do you feel now that you've won an award?
JS: I feel awarded and a little bit richer!

Q: Your last film was shot some 17 years ago when the Berlin Wall came down. This film ended with a scene at where the Wall was. Was there any intention behind that? And what is the Polish art cinema like now?
JS: The wall thing is a bit far-fetching, and I didn't recognize it was a metaphor. The state of art cinema in Poland is pretty well, with some good artistic films in Polish cinema this year. 4 Nights with Anna was presented in Cannes, and 33 Domestic Scenes was presented in Locarno.

Q: I would like to know your impression of the Tokyo International Film Festival and of its ecology theme?
JS: I prefer the green carpet of Tokyo to the red carpet in Cannes that's for sure. I'm surprised at the size of TIFF, and am impressed. It should be on the A-list of festivals and deserves its status.

Q: In your film, the surroundings have an effect in creating the atmosphere. Which part in Poland was it shot in?
JS: It was shot in Northen Poland's Mazuria lake district. I run away from the city of Warsaw because it is polluted. It was shot near my house which is a hunting lodge deep in the forest.

Q: You weren't too happy with you previous film, and thus didn't direct another movie for so long. How about now?
JS: I'm so much happier with this film that I should be making my next one tomorrow!


Competition: Best Director; Toyota Sakura Grand Prix: Tulpan - Director Sergey Dvortsevoy (SD), Cast Askhat Kuchinchirekov (AK) and Samal Yeslyamova (SY)

Left: Askhat Kuchinchirekov, Center: Sergey Dvortsevoy, Right: Samal Yeslyamova

Director Sergey Dvortsevoy introduced the background of his cast members, where Samal is a stage actress from Northern Kazakhstan and Askhat is not a professional actor, but when they first met up, he was in an arts college studying directing.

He also shared that this was his very first film, and would like to make another fictional film next, probably set in Moscow. He would then retun to Kazakhstan to make films because he was born and raised there, where he would be interested to make a film about a Russian living in Kazakhstan.

Q: It was unfortunate that the boy in the film had passed away. Could you tell us how you found him?
SD: The boy we're referring to is the boy holding the radio in the film. He died in a drowning accident aged 14. He passed away in-between the shoot, and it was during a fishing trip with his father when the disaster happened. The 3 children in the film, they are all from the same family.

Q: The environment portrayed is difficult to live in. Have you stayed in such conditions before, and if not, how did you prepare for your role in the film?
SY: I'm from a completely different section in Kazakhstan, and truly felt it was different from what I'm used to.
AK: It's important for an actor to believe in the director, and to believe so much that you should be able to fully trust him and the results will be reflected on screen.


TOYOTA Earth Grand Prix: Ashes from the Sky - Producer Loris Omedes (LO), Director Jose Antonio Quiros (JAQ)
Competition: Audience Award; TOYOTA Grand Prix Jury Award: School Days With A Pig - Director Tetsu Maeda (TM)

Tetsu Maeda

Q: In the movie, the schoolmaster said that it has to be a pig. Why so?
TM: The teacher says so in the movie too! If it was a chicken, it can be raised easily. It takes more effort and care to raise a pig, and it was a cute baby pig, where the pink object represents life. Also, it grows rapidly, and is an animal that we raise to eat. The original novel is about a pig as well.

LtoR: Producer Loris Omedes, Director Jose Antonio Quiros

Q: The movie is about pollution, in a comedic way. What's your feelings about the theme in the movie?
LO: It's about progress contradictions. All of us love nature, but we also like modern technology. Our message is we must do something and arrive at a compromise with progress and nature. That's more or less the idea of the film.

Q: How do you feel now that you've won the award?
LO: Very happy. The first award was to be in the festival, the second award was to be in Tokyo, the third award was to meet Japanese people, the fourth award was to visit Kyoto which we did a few days ago, and the fifth award was this one. The film will make its Spanish premiere on 7th November and distributed by Universal Pictures. This award will be important for the promotion of the movie. It's not a film with big stars, so the award will help us.
JAQ: I'm very happy too. I like Japan because of the very interesting Japanese filmmakers, like Kurosawa and Ozu whom I admire, and for me, this is home to the best filmmakers in the world.


Japanese Eyes Best Picture Award: buy a suit - Assistant Director Tomoya Suenaga (TS), Actress Yuki Sunahara (YS)

LtoR: Tomoya Suenaga, Yuki Sunahara

Q: How do you feel about the film winning this award?
TS: Very surprised. If the director was here, he'll also say that he's very surprised.
YS: I'm not an actress, as I normally work as crew, so am not always in front of the camera. I am grateful to the director for the opportunity.

Q: Any plans for a career switch?
YS: I don't think that will happen. If it does, I'll have a talk with the director first before I decide.

Tomoya Suenaga shared that they had found some memos that Jun Ichikawa had left behind, and the first memo on the pile said that Jun Ichikawa had wanted to make something like a movie. He heard about the project a year ago, that the director wanted to make an experimental, pseudo-film.

Q: Do you think that he wanted to find a new direction in making films?
TS: I don't think he wanted to reset anything. He wanted to go back to where he started, with so much power and energy when he first made a movie. He wanted to make a movie for himself, and not for anybody else. Jun Ichikawa also mentioned that if possible, he would like to make this kind of movie every year.
YS: He didn't give me so much instructions, and told me that I need not memorize lines, so I was not nervous during the shoot. However, there were some specific words or phrases that I had to say, otherwise I could speak freely in my role.
TS: I remember the director being very happy when he got the HD camera, and shared that he had the idea and the cast for the film for many years.
YS: No I was not aware that he had me in mind for this movie for so long!


Best Asian-Middle Eastern Film Award: My Marlon and Brando - Director Huseyin Karabey (HK)

Huseyin Karabey

Huseyin Karabey said that the win was a big surprise for him, and explained that the Turkish title and the English title for the film were different. The Turkish one meant “Going” or “On the Way”, which he thought that the distributors might change if it's gong to be commercially released. He often found it difficult to find titles for his films, and for this one, “My Marlon and Brando” came up in the last moment, which was a piece from the poem used in the movie that he thought was quite charming.

Q: During the awards ceremony, you mentioned that the film can now be released in Turkey. Is it that difficult to release a movie in Turkey?
HK: Well we all now how Hollywood movies are everywhere. In the last 2 to 3 years, Turkish people have preferred to watch Turkish movies, but there are 50-60 such movies released in a year. With the award and international recognition, there will be a greater chance for a domestic release. The film deals with taboo Kurdish issues, so the award will help in the release, as well as TV sales. This film is scheduled to be released in 2 weeks time.

Q: How many films did you see during the festival here, and is there any one which you liked best?
HK: I saw 2 films, one of which was Tulya, and I was very impressed by it. This is my 19th festival in the last 8 months, and I was lucky to have seen most of the films in the prrogramme somewhere else, which gives me more time to see Tokyo!

Q: Do you find it easier to make films in Turkey, with not so much restrictions?
HK: I come from a Kurdish family, and at 24 I've decided to make films. My background was in economics. I had many difficulties and was witness to many human rights violations in the country. My aim was to tell stories from all sides that the media avoids and only brings straight forward one way stories. I quit economics school, and started making films 12 years ago, with some human rights documentaries and short films. This is my first feature. Those days were tough times as I was arrested several times. But my films have always been about understanding, about life, and now it's much easier to make films than before.

This award will help to encourage many young people in Turkey. Each year I teach refugees and immigrants who have no chance to go to school. They see a director with the same background as them, and hopefully they will be encouraged to be filmmakers and tell their own stories. So you might see more Turkish people in the working class becoming filmmakers.


Jury President Jon Voight

And finally to close the press conference, jury president Jon Voight was present to wrap up the proceedings, as well as to explain the rationale of the choices that the Jury made. In a jovial mood, you can watch how he defended the choices, making his longest ever speech talking about the Green Carpet, and making 3 recommendations of must-watch films, in the video clips to follow:

Jon Voight Explains Tulpan's Win in 2 Categories

He was also asked about the performance of two Chinese films in competition, and what he thought of them:

On Super Typhoon (Part 1)

On Super Typhoon (Part 2)

On Claustrophobia and Karena Lam

Recommending 3 Must-Watch Movies

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