EDITORS NOTE: For the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers in the Discovery section of the festival, which TIFF describes as a showcase for new and emerging filmmakers from contemporary international cinema.
Bahamian director Maria Govan‘s “Rain” will be having its World Premiere in the Discovery section of the Toronto International Film Festival. The film follows the titular character as she leaves her rural, sheltered life in search of the mother that abandoned her. Heading to Nassau, her dream is “quickly shattered,” as TIFF describes, “when she meets Glory, a scarred, angry woman who bears no resemblance to the mother she had hoped for.” Govan talked to indieWIRE about “Rain,” and her aspirations for Toronto.
What initially attracted you to filmmaking and did that interest evolve while making your film?
I was always drawn to filmmaking – as a very young child I can remember creating scenarios that I would enact all alone in my room. Being an only child and painfully shy as a young person, my imagination was a place of refuge and joy. My make believe friends, like my characters when I am writing, are often my favorite company to keep.
My interest in filmmaking did evolve during the process of making “Rain,” namely because I learned some tough lessons. I was humbled by how challenging it is to complete a successful film. I look forward to directing again with deeper confidence and a better understanding of my own process, so that all of these hard earned lessons can now be put to good use.
Please discuss how the idea for “Rain” came about…
I worked for several years on a documentary film called “Where I’m From: HIV and AIDS in the Bahamas” that followed the lives of three Bahamians of diverse socio economic backgrounds living with HIV/AIDS. One of those subjects had been struggling with addiction to crack cocaine for some time, and sadly during the course of our film returned to her drug habit. I spent two years observing life in a crack house in Nassau.
I began to think about a fictional story that would live in this world. I am interested in what it means to lose our innocence, to experience betrayal for the first time in our young adulthood – looking more closely at why so many are broken by this moment while others seem empowered by the will to move beyond and through it.
Please elaborate on your approach to making the film…
My approach to making this film was simply naive, whole-hearted commitment. I had no experience with narrative work and so in many ways really did dive into the deep end. There I was treading water with this thing in my arms – on some days it felt like a boulder I was carrying, then on others it would lighten up. I hope that one day in the near future it transforms into a buoy that will support all who have given so much to this journey.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
We certainly had the usual challenges that face independent filmmaking — a crazy schedule, working with the combination of non- actors and very seasoned talent, some 40 locations, limited budget, my own internal neurosis… but lucky for me I had a lot of positive, supportive energy around, which helps particularly if you are directing for the first time. It is essential to feel safe. I think finding great collaborations is like finding good relationships in general. One learns a great deal in the process of discovery – sometimes for better other times for worse. I guess irrespective of the details of the experience, as long as one has a better understanding of oneself on the other side, either can be valuable.
What is your next project?
There are three stories battling in my head for the stage. I will need some quiet when Toronto is over to sit still and listen to which shall happen next There are two incarnations of the same comedy and then there is a family drama. I think my brain needs some fall cleaning, a little feng shui in order for me to sit and make space for the next adventure. I will say that am really looking forward to writing again.
What are your goals for the Toronto International Film Festival?
I hope that we have amazing screenings and that people viewing are moved by this story! I am so looking forward to watching Renel (who plays Rain) in this environment, particularly as she watches the film on the big screen. I am thrilled to share this experience with my family and friends, so many of whom have been integral in shaping its success.
We would love of course to sell the film to a wonderful company who feels “Rain” at the heart level, who will pick it up and lift it high. We have an amazing company, The Works, on board to help us sell the picture.
I do trust that “Rain” will find its way into the world exactly as it is meant to. There has been a great deal of magic along the way that reminds me that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.
[Read all of indieWIRE’s Toronto International Film Festival coverage in our special Toronto ’08 section.]