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CANNES L’ATELIER ’06 INTERVIEW: Christina Andreef: “Nikki Gemmell’s book jumped off the page wanting

CANNES L'ATELIER '06 INTERVIEW: Christina Andreef: "Nikki Gemmell's book jumped off the page wanting

Every day through the end of the 2006 Festival de Cannes, including weekends, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers participating in the L’Atelier du Festival, which according to Cannes, “was created in 2005 to reveal a new generation of filmmakers through the world, whose works, still at the project stage, might one day be honoured by being selected for the Cannes Film Festival.” Eighteen filmmakers were given the opportunity to participate in an e-mail interview, and each was sent the same questions.

Director Christina Andreef is at L’Atelier with her feature film project, “Shiver,” a film based on Nikki Gemmell’s novel of the same title. “Shiver” is a woman’s story of love, lust and sexual encounter that takes place on an Australian scientific base in Antarctica.

Please tell us about yourself and your background, including where you were born and grew up, as well as how you became a filmmaker.

I was born and grew up in small town New Zealand in a family of 6 kids, with an Anglo-Irish mother and a Bulgarian father. I’ve lived in Sydney over 20 years now. I studied News Journalism at Wellington Polytech (NZ) in the 70’s, travelled the world for years and fell into film theory by luck at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. It was the late 70’s, the “troubles” and the hunger strikes in Belfast. The films we watched were the French new wave, and subversive American films. I loved it! I continued on with post-grad at Macquarie University in Sydney.

Please tell us about your previous work, including information about your recent films and other creative projects.

I worked on lots of friends’ films for free while I was a student, and then became a director’s assistant to both Jane Campion and Alison Maclean in the late 80’s early 90’s. That was the best film school anyone could ever have. After working on “The Piano” I wrote and directed my own short films, “Excursion to the Bridge of Friendship” (official selection Sundance and Cannes 1993), “The Gap” (Sundance and Telluride 1994) and “Shooting the Breeze” (Sundance & Berlin 1996). I then wrote and directed my first feature “Soft Fruit” in 1999. “Soft Fruit” was my fourth film to be invited to Sundance and my second to Cannes (Critic’s Week 2000). It won the International Critics’ Prize (Fipresci) at San Sebastian and the Jury Prize in Turin. At home in Australia it was nominated for 7 AFI Awards and was voted most popular Australian Film, by the audience, at the Sydney Film Festival.

“Shiver” Director Christina Andreef. Photo courtesy of the filmmaker.

Please tell us about your new project. What is it about and what inspired you to pursue this new project?

I work with Producer, Helen Bowden, in our company Toi-Toi Films in Sydney. I have recently completed the screenplay adaptation of Nikki Gemmell’s novel “Shiver“, which we are currently financing, and I will direct. The reason we chose this novel to adapt was firstly that Nikki was a young Australian writer with a searing honesty about love, lust and emotion, and also a writer with an astonishing knack for the visual. Her book is set on an Australian scientific base in Antarctica and it jumped off the page wanting to be a raw, sexy, romantic film.

What do you hope to accomplish for the project while you are in Cannes? What are your specific needs to continue developing your new project?

We want to shore up the financing of “Shiver” while in Cannes and make further headway with the casting. Specifically, we need a fantastic International Sales Agent to get behind us with the courage to back an Aussie/Kiwi cast and crew.

What are some of your favourite movies and influences, including other films and filmmakers, as well as other creative influences? Which films are you most interested in seeing at this year’s Festival?

Favourite movies are…so many…”Three Colours Blue” and “Red” by Kieslowski and his Decalog series. Most films by the Coen Brothers, especially “Barton Fink” and “Fargo“, everything by David Lynch, Jane Campion and Alison Maclean. I love “Trainspotting“, I’m very intrigued by Catherine Breillat‘s work.

[Get the latest from the Festival de Cannes throughout the day in indieWIRE’s special Cannes ’06 section.]

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