California filmmaker James Kenney ties together 11 stories from around the globe into one feature film in "Other Than." The documentary's vivid images and compelling stories surround the shared human experience of being an outsider in differing parts of the world.
What it's really about: "As the modern world becomes smaller and our differences become larger, can we afford to ignore what it means to be similar and yet unique? Eleven filmmakers on five continents explore the fine line between us and them. Travel to New Zealand, Vietnam, Canada, the U.S., Israel, and Brazil. Five continents. One Film. The film is really about outsiders in different cultures and how their experiences might comment on each other or overlap. The films push the limits of the documentary genre, incorporating a range from man-on-the-street to stop-motion animation. Subjects range from the light-hearted to the very serious."
Why did you want to make movies? "I come from a fine art and design background, but as I grew older, I became more interested in content – in exploring bigger topics. I am very interested in outsiders, and therefore acceptance and belonging. My films are often frankensteins: how can parts co-exist when they don't seem to relate."
What inspired you to make this film? "I have been a short film festival programmer for years and have always been interested in how films from different sources can rub up against each other to enhance meaning. I wanted to see what would happen if a feature was developed from short documentaries around a common theme. Early pitches in this films development called it a documentary "Paris Je t'aime"; however, the difference is that the film doesn't revolve around a place, but rather it goes to many locations to explore the theme – that of "the other."
His outside influences: "Fast, Cheap & Out of Control" by Errol Morris was a very big inspiration. I love how he was able to weave subjects from very different backgrounds, but have them seemingly comment on each others' states of being."
On the challenges of a film that crosses several contients: "The biggest challenge to developing and producing "Other Than" was remotely keeping in contact with filmmaking teams on 5 continents during their production and post production. Most of my work on the film was done over the internet from a cabin in the woods… while film crews travelled to exotic locations."
What do you think SnagFilms audiences will respond to most in your movie? "In the film you meet a collection of extremely interesting people from many cultures who all seem to be talking about the same universal human condition."
What's next: "I am in production on a new feature documentary that will again span vast periods and places."
[Full Disclosure: SnagFilms is the parent company of Indiewire.]
Full length feature is below and can also be viewed at SnagFilms.com