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TIFF 2015 Women Directors: Meet Patricia Rozema – ‘Into the Forest’

TIFF 2015 Women Directors: Meet Patricia Rozema - 'Into the Forest'

Canadian filmmaker Patricia Rozema’s first feature, “I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing,” won the Prix de la Jeunesse and was runner-up for the Camera d’Or at the 1987 Cannes Film Festival. “When Night Is Falling” (1995) was in competition at the Berlin Film Festival. “Six Gestures” (1997) screened at the Venice Film Festival and was awarded a Primetime Emmy. Other directing credits include “Mansfield Park” (1999), “Kitt Kittredge: An American Girl” (2008) and the HBO television series “Tell Me You Love Me.” (Press materials)

Into the Forest” will premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival on September 12.

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

PR: A few years in the future, two young women struggle to survive when all forms of power (fossil fuels, electricity) and the comfort they bring suddenly disappear. A character-based survival story.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

PR: I loved the three main characters. The plausibility of the premise. Somehow it felt both real and fable-like at the same time, visceral and yet dreamlike. I even heightened that contradiction in my adaptation. It was a beautiful challenge on a level of tone. And it felt like it could be a both a cautionary tale and an inspiration at the same time. It felt of our time.

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

PR: Shooting was fantastic. Editing was tough. Getting the tone and balance just right. Hanging onto my initial conception. Knowing who to listen to, and who might not get it because it’s a brand new thing. Knowing exactly how “leading” to be in terms of the film’s point: Too much and it preaches, too little and it feels, well, pointless.

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

PR: The worst can happen, and we will be okay. Let go. We invent conveniences and then believe we won’t survive without them. Maybe we can. Maybe.

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

PR: Don’t waste mind-time wondering if you aren’t doing better or working more or getting cooperation because of your gender. Ignore that because you can never really answer it. And even if you know you’ve landed in a nest of sexism, just keep your mind and heart trained on the movie itself. You don’t matter — the movie does.

And if you want to parent responsibly as well  — I would give the same advice to men, by the way — take fewer larger steps as a filmmaker. I’m very ambitious that way: I want my little ones to feel cherished, and I want to make beautiful films.

W&H: How did you get your film funded? Share some insights into how you got the film made.

PR: Ellen Page and the producers she was working with approached me (Page and I had been working on something else together), and I jumped in with both feet. We realized our Canadian-ness could get us some additional dollars, so we offered it to some Canadian producers, who then did backflips to pull it together quite quickly. We were lucky, thanks to hard-working taxpayers. We’ve tried to thank them by being hardworking filmmakers.

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

PR: “The Piano” by Jane Campion. Because it’s perfect. It loves all the characters deeply. It’s tough-minded and still poetic. And funny. A clean, strong story, which is also a clean, strong metaphor. Entirely original. It bears many interpretations. Brilliant compositions. Campion has such a complete mastery of her craft that she makes it look effortless — which it never is.

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