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AFI Fest 2011 | 14 Directors In Their Own Words

By Devin Lee Fuller | Indiewire November 7, 2011 at 2:14PM

Indiewire invited directors with films in 2011 AFI Fest’s Breakthrough, New Auteurs and Young Americans section to submit responses in their own words about their films. Below 14 AFI filmmakers open up about their works playing at the event. AFI Fest wraps Thursday, November 10 in Los Angeles.
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Movies at AFI Fest 2011.
Movies at AFI Fest 2011.

Indiewire invited directors with films in 2011 AFI Fest’s Breakthrough, New Auteurs and Young Americans section to submit responses in their own words about their films. Below 14 AFI filmmakers open up about their works playing at the event. AFI Fest wraps Thursday, November 10 in Los Angeles.


Markus Schleinzer, “Michael”
“‘Monsters aren’t like us. We’re normal.’ The image of the monster is an excellent way of explaining things because it draws a distinct line between one’s own world and evil. Yet many of the most horrible crimes are committed by fully functioning, very normal people who no one would imagine as being capable of such things. And the discussion about these actions, deeds, crimes and perpetrators, as well as victims will never be sensible on the level of the monster image because the point of it is to distance oneself from them.”

Alex Ross Perry, “The Color Wheel”
“I also hope that some of the AFI audiences are familiar and comfortable with a certain type of bygone film, be it screwball comedy or grimy ‘70s independent American cinema. I think people are nostalgic for the golden days of cinema, no matter when they think that is, might find something to respond to in ‘The Color Wheel.’”

Brett Eichenberger, “Light of Mine”
“When I was six I saw ‘E.T.,’ and it introduced me to the magic of film. That film had a huge emotional impact on me. I then realized film had the ability to affect millions of people. That’s when I knew I wanted to make movies. I wanted to create that same experience for others. I still have the 2nd grade journal entry that mentions wanting to be just like Steven Spielberg someday.”

Naghi Nemati, “Three and a Half”
“Annually, there are thousands of people who are immigrating from their homelands to other countries for a better life or to reach some social freedoms. Through these immigrations which are mostly illegal, there are numerous incidents waiting for each person that can totally change everyone’s destiny.”

Francesca Fuenzalida, “Expecting”
“I read an article called ‘Abortion Express,’ which caught my attention because it talked about how Chile had around 160,000 illegal abortions, a country where abortion is a crime even in cases where the life of the mother was in danger or fetal malformation. A country in which the divorce law was passed only a few years ago, but on the other hand is full of contradictions such as having had a woman president who had recently been separated and is atheistic. That is the country I live in and where I get my stories.”

Sophia Takai, “Green”
“As I set out to make something relatively simple to produce most of the challenges arose from emotional issues not technical ones. The film is about jealousy, so that was an issue. Casting my best friend to play my fiance’s girlfriend was either really masochistic or quite emotionally mature. I still don’t know which.”

Cristián Jiménez, “Bonsái”
“To me ‘Bonsái’ does not just tell Julio’s story, but refers to a moment right after the end of the dictatorship when the collective horizon that had had so much weight over the years was suddenly not there anymore. Maybe it was a heavy thing, but as much it was oppressive, it provided with certainties. This is about youngsters who have to deal with this sudden lack of certainties which makes them more lonely than they could have ever imagined.”

Clay Liford, “Wuss”
“I think I really wanted to deal with the time I spent back home after graduating college. I moved back to my parents house to help them through a difficult time. I hadn’t necessarily failed at any career path yet. I just never really got a chance to get it off the ground. So, I felt stifled. I tended to hang out with neighborhood kids significantly younger than myself. It was a weird time.”

Bill Morrison, “Spark of Being”
“I’m not sure whether I saw Frank Hurley’s footage of Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition to Antarctica in 1914 before I read ‘Frankenstein,’ or whether I read the book first. For me, the two opening scenes were always linked - the image of a ship encased in a sea of ice, with sled dogs pulling men away from, and back to, the wreck. As I had been making found footage collage films for years, I had always hoped to one day make a Frankenstein in this way, the form following the story.”

Ruslan Pak, “Hanaan”
“You know why I make films? One day, I was in a movie theater alone watching a very boring film. I dozed off, and suddenly there was a voice from above, ordering me to make a film. Since then, I cannot do anything else but make films…”

Alexandra-Therese Keining, “With Every Heartbeat”
“Most movies dealing with this subject are often pretty dark and depressing. I really wanted to embody the sense of lightness and the lust for life that hits you when one falls in love.”

Tristan Patterson, “Dragonslayer”
“I wanted to make a movie that was cinematically alive, but also absolutely true to Skreech’s experience as it was unfolding in real time. Going in, I imagined this might feel like the first album from some garage band you discover that no one else even knows about yet. Maybe the recordings are a little fucked up here and there, or a track gets interrupted by cops banging on the door, but then out of nowhere, a moment crystallizes and something strange and beautiful takes hold.”

Michaël R. Roskam, “Bullhead”
“With this movie I want to expose you to the Belgian cattle industry which is a shady world controlled by gangsters and opportunists, where corruption, hormone peddling and even murder have become commonplace.”

Athina Tsangari, “Attenberg”
“The question we get a lot in festival Q&As is ‘If you were an animal, what would you be?”. And people seem to get either furious or giddy with the so-called ‘silly walks’ by the girls. I like not knowing how audiences will respond to anything I do. It would take all the fun out of it.

This article is related to: AFI Fest, AFI, Festivals, Interviews, First Person