Only hours after the birth of their daughter in a one-room apartment in Little Italy, New York, Kat Coiro’s parents took her down to the street to celebrate the Feast of San Gennaro seen in “The Godfather”, Parts II and III. As a child, Kat Coiro traveled all of the world with her parents as part of a “gypsy-like” existence. Her adventures included living with Haitian refugees in Key Largo, staying in an American millionaire’s villa in Italy, crossing the heavily armed border to Yugoslavia at midnight, lodging with pig farmers in Cyprus and hunting oysters on the Eastern seaboard. But the family would always return home to New York where Kat would watch films.
“I would watch a handful of videos, including ‘Mary Poppins’ and ‘The Little Mermaid,’ then later ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ and ‘The Man Who Would Be King,’ hundreds of times, seeking stability in the permanence and the familiar repetition the movies provided and marveling at the meticulous and carefully constructed realities portrayed on the screen, so different from my own and yet comforting and familiar,” said Coiro. “From this early and innocent admiration of storytelling sprung a circuitous route to finding my place as a director.”
What it’s about: “While We Were Here” is a subtle meditation on love, loss, loneliness and the nature of time. The character of Grandma Eves, brought to life by the legendary Claire Bloom, voices the idea that each generation has their own private battles and while she lived through gruesome wars that shattered her generation, her problems are no greater than the trials and tribulations that every human being must endure simply by existing at any point in time. Her commentary, which sagaciously guides her granddaughter from beyond the grave, weaves its way into Jane’s life, nudging her away from her husband and into the arms of a younger lover who is just as lonely and lost as she is.
Director Coiro says: “The film was inspired by a set of tapes I made of my own Grandmother before she passed away, by Kate Bosworth, whose ability to tap into a rare, broken and wounded fragility informed the lead character of Jane; a character I wrote just for her, by my desire to figure out the meaning of Leonard Cohen’s song ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ and by the island of Ischia, whose magical light, intriguing history, warm people and gorgeous vistas made me feel, as Grandma Eves says, that ‘time is shiftable.’
“It was shot entirely on location in Ischia, Italy with a crew of four. I wrote the script without ever having visited Ischia and directed the script when I was seven months pregnant.”
On the challenges: “I was 7 months pregnant when we started shooting. I was 8 months pregnant when we left Italy and they almost didn’t let me get on the plane!”
What do you want the Tribeca audience to come away with? “I hope that the Tribeca audience feels as if they have been immersed in a timeless story in which all the characters are sympathetic and somehow remind them of some aspect of their own lives. This is not a morality tale about infidelity but a reflection on mistakes and choices, mortality and existence. And I also hope that they enjoy the location porn that Ischia allowed us to capture.”
The film’s inspirations: “‘Manhattan’ by Woody Allen. ‘Control’ by Anton Corbjin. ‘Breathless’ and ‘Contempt,’ both by Jean-Luc Godard. The play ‘Betrayal’ by Harold Pinter.
Future projects: “‘A Case Of You,’ starring Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood, Brendan Fraser, Sam Rockwell, Vince Vaughn, Peter Dinklage, Busy Phillips and Keir O’Donnell is currently in the editing room.”
Indiewire invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2012 festival.
Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch for the latest profiles.