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Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #13 : Diane Bell Tackles Violence and Familial Responsibility in ‘Bleeding Heart’

Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #13 : Diane Bell Tackles Violence and Familial Responsibility in 'Bleeding Heart'

READ MORE: Meet the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Filmmakers

Reserved yoga instructor May’s (Jessica Biel) peaceful, clean-living life is thrown out of balance by the arrival of her long-lost sister Shiva (Zosia Mamet), a street-smart yet naive young woman trapped in an abusive relationship. May feels compelled to rescue the hapless Shiva, but she finds herself increasingly drawn out of her sedate world and deeper into Shiva’s chaotic one. [Synopsis courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival.]

What’s your film about in 140 characters or less?

A yoga teacher decides to help her biological sister who’s trapped in an abusive relationship.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

It’s about violence, in particular violence against women. I spent years working as a yoga teacher and have been very immersed in the world of meditation and Buddhist practice where peace is believed to be every step, and rightly so. But I’ve also taught yoga classes to street working prostitutes in Edinburgh, Scotland (where I’m from) and in Barcelona, Spain (where I lived for a number or years) and became aware of the shocking level of violence with which many women in our societies live. It’s easy to be peaceful when those around you are peaceful too, but how do we deal with someone who is violent and who doesn’t want to negotiate in a peaceful way? Chant? This question fascinates me and it drives the film.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I studied mental philosophy at university in Scotland, and then got into yoga and moved to Barcelona. My first loves were always cinema and writing, and I naturally fell into screenwriting. The first screenplay I wrote solo got optioned and it brought to me America, where I soon became frustrated with the development process and decided to make my own film. The result was “Obselidia,” my first film as writer/director. It premiered at Sundance 2010 and won two awards. Earlier this year, with my partner Chris Byrne, I launched the Rebel Heart Film Workshop in which we teach step by step how to make a stand out indie film based on how we made “Obselidia.” We are passionate about sharing what we’ve learned and love connecting with and empowering other filmmakers.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

Shooting in 19 days on a limited budget meant every day was a challenge, but I was blessed with the best actors a director could dream of, and the most brilliant crew, in particular my genius DP, Zak Mulligan and fantastic 1st AD, Jacques Terblanche.

What do you want the Tribeca audience to take away from your film?

Questions I hope will arise: Is violence ever justified? What should we do to help those who need it? Do we do enough? Is there a way to deal peacefully with someone who is hellbent on violence? Also, I hope they’ll be as excited as I am by the performances of all our actors, but in particular Jessica Biel and Zosia Mamet. These women blew me away.

Any films inspire you?

So many, I’d need to write a book to list them! In terms of inspiration for this particular film: movies by Claude Chabrol and Francois Ozon, Robert Altman’s “Three Sisters,” “Drive,” “Thelma and Louise.” I wanted to make a film that was a genre film, a noir thriller, but also a drama.

What’s next?

“Of Dust And Bones.” It’s a meditation on suffering in the world and how we live with it, my personal reaction to ISIS and Syria and much of the horror that is happening right now. It’s the story a war photographer’s widow who has retreated to the desert to live a reclusive life, and what happens when her dead husband’s best friend comes to visit, with an unwanted agenda. I want to explore a different process making this film. My last two films have been very tightly scheduled; this new one, I want to have time, shoot 3 pages a day and really dig deep into it with the actors and DP. If all goes to plan, we’ll be launching our crowdfunding campaign at the beginning of April. 

What cameras did you shoot on?

Alexa.

Did you crowdfund?

“Bleeding Heart” was fully financed by a production company, Super Crispy.

Did you go to film school? If so, which one? 

The same one that Godard went to: the cinema.

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 2015 festival. For profiles go HERE.

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