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Directors of 'EO,' 'Holy Spider-Man' and more talk about the challenges of making an Oscar-nominated film

The Hollywood Reporter’s first international panel of directors at this year’s Palm Springs Film Festival showcased leading edge film actor. Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO, starring a couple of camera-ready Sardinian donkeys, was probably the most unlikely casting choice. The Last Film Show by Pan Nalin and by Colm Bairéad Projects like The Quiet Girl all feature young child actors, which required an extensive nationwide talent search and a tight schedule , to comply with child labor laws.

The breadth of different tones and story types contained in these Oscar-nominated international films is evidenced by the variety of genres represented in the panel: Tarek Saleh Cairo Conspiracy is a thriller revolving around the religious and political elite of the Egyptian city of the same name. Joyland, Saim Sadiq’s debut feature, a family drama dealing with gender, sexuality and lineage. And Ali Abbasi’s Holy Spider is based on a real life sex-targeted serial Killer workers in the Iranian city of Mashhad.

While the themes of the films vary widely, they are all united by their respective directors’ passion for storytelling and ability to overcome the greatest obstacles – from their films being Prohibited to smuggle dildos through customs. THR’s Mia Galuppo facilitates an enlightening conversation about the making of these international films.

Turns out, what’s the hardest thing to capture in your film – no matter what Is it a shot, a scene, an actor or a sequence, how do you do it?

PanalinCast[ing], because the main character is supposed to be only nine years old, and he has to carry the movie. When we started our initial auditions, the so-called professional child actors were [influenced] by popular Indian films. So the idea of ​​them acting was far from what I wanted. We said to my casting director, “We have to choose a non-actor. Let’s go to a remote part of [India] where kids rarely go to movies,” because my movie is about movies and maybe they’re watching There’s that same magic when it comes to movies, and they’re going to love it. That’s where we hit the jackpot. But throughout the process, deep into the countryside, our casting director escaped lynching twice. Because people think: “They’re here to kidnap our kids.”

Palm Springs Film FestivalJERZY SKOLIMOWSKI The main character in my movie is played by six different donkeys. But the first one I encountered was in Sicily. I was so excited about meeting that particular animal that I called my friend in Poland and I said, “Get [a] camera, borrow it, come here.” That’s a very popular thing in Italy The breed, called the Sardinian donkey, is characterized by a very light gray coat with thick black hair extending from the top of the head to the tail and then across the front legs. I believe that is probably the most beautiful breed of donkey. So once we shot it, and I knew we were going to do a Polish-Italian co-production, I immediately called my zookeeper in Poland and I said, “Give you all the Sardinian donkeys in Poland !” The answer was straightforward: “Yes, we have three.” So the options were fairly limited, but I was lucky. Two of them—a male and a female—are the main donkeys. We capture approximately 70 percent of screen time.

Palm Springs Film FestivalCOLM BAIRÉAD Palm Springs Film Festival Under Irish child labor laws, you can work seven and a half hours with just one young actor. So we have to be fully prepared and fight. Anytime you see [the main] character’s hands or her feet or anything like that, that’s not Katherine Clinch playing the main character. That’s another double for us. But what I’m more worried about is knowing that we’re going to have to shoot scenes with other adult actors in which Catherine is going to have to leave at some point, and then we’re still going to have all the reversals they do. We do have stand-ins for them that can replace those scenes. We’ll shoot Katherine’s angle first. Then she’d get a round of applause, and then she’d be gone. Then we’d turn around and get all their angles. It’s worth noting that even though we’ve had our struggles, adult actors will always ask not to use doubles because they’re so enthralled by what Catherine has done and what they’ve just witnessed that they remember her performance vividly enough to make They play a role. Usually, they’re on stage C with some sequin tape for eyeliner.

Palm Springs Film FestivalTariq Sale In the middle of the film, there is this scene [that] has thousands of students in a narrow courtyard. It was during COVID and we were filming in Istanbul. A big reason is because [Turkish President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan opened up the country to film a lot of COVID. So I talked to production companies in Turkey, and I said, “Listen, every extra thing needs to be tested. We need to keep everyone safe.” And they looked at me and said, “Tariq, we’re going to do you Let’s be honest. We’re not going to test them. Because they’re going to come home, we can’t leave them in the bubble.” So when we shot that scene, it was like a horror movie.

ALI ABBASI Palm Springs Film FestivalWe The movie was shot in Jordan. I was talking to my Jordanian producer, and she said, “I’m worried about this big scene. You know, that scene…” I was like, “Oh, the blowjob scene.” We haven’t done that in this country yet. Such a thing. ’ They were like, ‘Okay, so we have to do an exterior part. Then we do a section in the van. ’ The scene was about a sex worker giving oral sex to a truck driver. [She said:] “Then we went to pitch the tent and we did the rest. ’ I thought, ‘Why don’t we do it in one place? “[They] were like, ‘Well, if you do that, the police will come and deport you. ’ And then my next question was: Where’s the dildo? They’re like, ‘This is Jordan, there’s no dildo here. ’ So our German producer had to fly to Jordan with a dildo. He’s German, and he went to customs and said, ‘Hey, we want to make a movie. I have a dildo. ’ They’re like, ‘You come with us. ’ So they confiscated the prosthetic penis, and we had a crisis meeting about it with me and actress Alice [Rahimi], who’s French-Afghan, and she’s a fantastic actress. She said, “You know, if everything Go bad, I’ll do it. ’ I was like, ‘No, you’re not doing anything real. We will not go there. I have enough troubles. ’ So in the end, we found a guy who flew in from France, who was her friend, took a dildo, hid it in his pants, and went through customs. So here they come, and the producers come in, very proud . I thought, “Okay, this is great. Let’s go shoot. ’ They’re like, ‘Yeah, but there’s another problem. None of us want to do it, none of us want to be truck drivers. ” So guess who did it.

Palm Springs Film FestivalPAN NALIN

Can I please make a movie about that? Did?

NALIN I [as a kid] totally fell in love with light, not really The story, also not the images, but the light. Because in the old movie theaters, at least in India, people used to smoke, so the beams of light were more dramatic than the films. All these projectors are becoming spoons, and the film rolls are becoming women’s Bracelet. These are sad times we have come to. My mind starts wandering back to my own childhood memories of how wonderful it was to fall in love with movies. I miss the beauty of falling in love with movies without fear.

Saim you said to be a filmmaker in pakistan you have to be an artist and an event Home. When did you become aware of this and how did it affect your filmmaking?

SAIM SADIQ Palm Springs Film Festival If you grew up in Pakistan, so did I , I obviously know everything offensive [to Pakistan] about this movie: a man having an affair with a trans woman, just the idea of ​​love between two non-cis men [and a cis woman] to a lot of people It’s too offensive to say. There’s a lot of other stuff too, like female desire, etc. So I know there’s a lot of stuff that’s going to offend some people. And I, stupidly or naively, think it’s okay because my movie is actually about A very conservative family. So I put right-wing people who might not like this movie heart and center in the movie, and as a filmmaker, I actually have a lot of sympathy for them. I think maybe people will watch it and say, “Okay Well, it’s a movie about gender and sexuality, things we don’t really want to talk about, but at least it talks about it in a sympathetic way and puts people who don’t have the most enlightened views in the protagonist’s shoes. ’ We saw the notification on Twitter — we didn’t even get the notification in person — that the movie was banned. It’s a very basic choice: do you want to join the long list of movies that were previously banned in Pakistan, And just sit quietly and feel sorry for it? Or [are] you gonna do something about it? I’m glad we’re naive and stupid and arrogant and all that comes with being young and we’re like, “No, We’re going to fight back,” with a lot of bad results. The good news is that we managed to be the first movie to be unbanned.

for Interview edited for length and clarity.

Director of the Palm Springs Film Festival Courtesy of Andrew Cabral Photography/Palm Springs International Film Society 2021



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