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DOC NYC Women Directors: Meet Linda Hoaglund – ‘The Wound and The Gift’

DOC NYC Women Directors: Meet Linda Hoaglund - 'The Wound and The Gift'

Linda Hoaglund was born in Japan as the daughter of American missionary
parents and raised in rural Japan, where she attended Japanese public schools.
A graduate of Yale University, she subtitled 200 Japanese films, including Seven
Samurai
and Spirited Away, before she began directing her own films. Her
previous film credits are a trilogy about World War II: Wings of Defeat (Producer, Writer), ANPO: Art X War (Director, Producer),
and Things Left Behind
(Director/Producer). (Linda Hoaglund)

The Wound and The Gift will play at DOC NYC on November 15.

W&H: Please give us your
description of the film playing.

LH: The film
is a cinematic fable about animals and humans. All over the world, people are
saving animals that were bred, abused, or sold on the black market, sheltering
them in sanctuaries and homes. By caring for these wounded animals, we are
learning how much they give back to humans.

The narrative spine is an ancient
fable about a wounded crane, saved by peasants, that tries to express her
gratitude with a gift. Illustrated scenes from the fable are
interwoven with stunning verité footage of animal sanctuaries. As the film
unfolds, we cannot help but wonder: Who is saving who?

W&H: What drew you to this story?

LH: I was
inspired to make this film after I started approaching people walking with
their dogs in New York. When 50 out of 50 turned out to be “rescue dogs,”
I realized the enormous scope of the animal-rescue movement and that there
is something unique about animals that have been abandoned and then rescued by
humans. I wanted to find out what made them special.

W&H: What was the biggest challenge
in making the film?

LH: As we
were filming a Super Adoption of 700 rescued dogs all seeking new homes, I
recalled my favorite folk tale from my childhood in Japan. It is a story about
a wounded crane, saved by a peasant, that tries to thank the peasant for his
kindness by weaving a magical cloth. I decided I would weave together real-life
stories of rescued animals and their sanctuaries, with scenes from the crane
fable.

This turned out to be a much bigger challenge than I had imagined.
Fortunately, I had a team of amazing women who all believed in my vision and
helped me to realize it. Kirsten Johnson, the cinematographer, managed to
capture the animals’ individual personalities. Victo Ngai, the artist, imbued
every living creature in her fable illustrations with a spirit. Vanessa
Redgrave, the actor, whose reading of the narration elevated a fable into a
legend. And I remain grateful to my amazing editor, William Lehman, who makes
it look so easy!

W&H: What do you want people to
think about when they are leaving the theater?

LH: I hope
that people who have seen my film will consider adopting an animal or
contributing to an animal shelter or sanctuary. I also hope that people who
don’t live with animals will appreciate that each animal is a unique individual
with a rich inner life.

W&H: What advice do you have for
other female directors?

LH: Look for
people who really appreciate your vision and are willing to genuinely support
you. When it comes time to taking notes on various cuts, if you have a smart
producer, listen to her notes!

W&H: What’s the biggest
misconception about you and your work?

LH: If there
is a misconception, I’m responsible for it, because my first three films were
all serious films that dealt with controversial topics related to World War II.
I needed to make those films to bridge the gap between the Japanese narrative
of defeat and the American narrative of victory. I hope that when people see The Wound and The Gift, they’ll realize
that I’m a versatile director with a wide range of interests and a great sense
of humor! What hasn’t changed is my belief that beautiful images are the most
important element of a film. A beautiful image can help you see things in a
whole new way.

W&H: How did you get your film
funded?

LH: I started
filming with the director’s fee from my previous film. After that, I found an
investor, who helped me find more investors. We also raised funds through a
successful Kickstarter campaign.

W&H:  Name your favorite woman-directed film and
why.

LH: Brothers by Susanne Bier, because Bier
managed to make a tender, haunting film about war and masculinity showing only
a minimum of violence.

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