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Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #2 : Amy Kohn Explores Love and Religion in ‘A Courtship’

Meet the 2015 Tribeca Filmmakers #2 : Amy Kohn Explores Love and Religion in 'A Courtship'

READ MORE: Meet the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Filmmakers

Drawing inspiration from “Amour” and “Love is Strange,” Amy Kohn’s documentary “A Courtship” exposes the intimacy of relationships and the thorniness and beauty of love while exploring the practice of Christian courtship. A highly conservative alternative to dating, courtship is a process in which couples commit to physical and emotional purity until marriage, saving even hand holding and first kisses for their wedding day. Courtship may seem like an unusual way to pursue a romantic relationship, especially in a world where Internet dating and premarital sex are the norm, but longing for love and a life partner is a universal feeling and the film follows one woman’s unusual journey to obtain them. 

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

Kelly follows courtship, a conservative Christian dating ritual, giving the responsibility of finding her husband to her parents and God.

Now what’s it REALLY about?

This film is about a woman who found God later in life and decided she wanted to be married according to the principals of Christian courtship. In courtship, couples remain pure until marriage, saving their first kisses for the altar. They also rely on their parents and the will of God to find their spouse. Kelly, the main character in my film, has parents who don’t believe in courtship so she enlisted spiritual parents to find her spouse. Religion is a divisive issue, but this film explores religious issues through the lens of relationships, romance and love and asks difficult questions about vulnerability, faith and personal responsibility that I think everyone can relate to.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

I’ve lived in New York for almost 20 years, but I grew up in California and have spent time living in Europe. I’m an identical twin. I recently got married and had a baby who is now 3 months old. I love foreign languages, travel and other cultures. I am a show runner for documentary and reality TV shows. This is my first feature film. I think part of the reason I enjoy documentary work so much is that it allows me to meet people and enter worlds that I might not otherwise have encountered.

Biggest challenge in completing this film?

Funding was a big challenge. Most documentary grants are for issue oriented films. I struggled to find grants I could even apply to. However, I thought this was a fascinating story and I really wanted to make this film, so I worked to save money and pay for the project. It took me over 4 years to complete, but it was worth it.

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

Religion is divisive and people who are on different sides of religious issues rarely (or never) talk to each other. This makes it easy to judge people on the other side of the issue. This film shows that everyone, regardless of belief system, struggles with relationships and the challenges of finding love. I hope that this film will open up people to the idea that dialogue is possible between people even of very different faiths. There is always common ground.

Any films inspire you?

Two films that I really have enjoyed are “Amour” and “Love is Strange.” Both are intimate portrayals of relationships and the thorniness and beauty of love. Though they are fiction films both had a rawness which made them feel very real. The themes in these films really resonated with me

What’s next?

I’m currently on maternity leave, but I am planning on going back to work soon. I am looking for an interesting documentary series to run. I would love to make another film but first I need to come up with an idea and then look for some funding. 

What cameras did you shoot on?

Sony EX-1

Did you crowdfund?
If so, via what platform. If not, why?

Indiegogo

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

I didn’t. In fact, I studied economics and public policy and worked as a management consultant for a few years out of school, but it wasn’t for me. I slowly transitioned into film working as an office manager for a film company then doing development for a fiction producer who introduced me to a documentary producer who gave me great opportunities on a few of his documentaries for HBO. I learned everything I know on the job. I actually got my first job directing at MTV. They asked me if I could shoot and I said yes. I had to give them a sample. I shot a short movie about my sister and her dog over the weekend and then edited it together. I got the job. I couldn’t believe it!

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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