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TORONTO ’06 DISCOVERY INTERVIEW: Pavel Giroud: “Independence only has to do with freedom.”

TORONTO '06 DISCOVERY INTERVIEW: Pavel Giroud: "Independence only has to do with freedom."

Every day through the end of the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers in the Discovery section of the festival, which TIFF describes as “provocative feature films by new and emerging directors.”

Nineteen filmmakers were given the opportunity to participate in an e-mail interview, and each was sent the same questions. Director Pavel Giroud is at Toronto with his feature film, “The Silly Age,” a coming-of-age film about a ten-year old and his divorced mother in 1958 Havana.

How old are you? Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?

I was born in Havana, Cuba, in 1972 still live in Havana. I direct and produce musical, advertising and documentary videos.

What were the circumstances that lead you to become a filmmaker?

A little after graduating at the Higher Design Institute, I began to experiment with single channel video and video installations. Then I studied scriptwriting and made my first short-length films in which I did the camera, sound effects and music.

Did you go to film school? Or how did you learn about filmmaking?

My film studies have only been a three month workshop in the San Antonio de los Banos International School of Cinema. Actually, I am self-taught in cinema.

What are your goals for the Toronto International Film Festival?

I hope that the screening in Toronto will mean a much larger audience, since it is a festival with much prestige and reach.

How/where did the initial idea for your film come from?

It was written by a friend of mine who agreed that I directed it. I was very interested in the story and we developed it together.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in either developing the project or making and securing distribution for the movie?

The first real challenge was being able to finish the film. Once you finish it, you can face any challenge that may come. If you have nothing in your hand, there are no options.

How did you finance the film?

The film was funded by the Cuba Cinema Art and Industry Institute, the Spanish producer Mediapro and the Venezuelan Cinema Institute through Alter Producciones. Ibeermadia program, Television Espanola and other film organizations also participated.

What are your biggest creative influences?

My film does not refer to any given author, but is full of small details where many influences can be identified. There are sequences in the style of Sergio Leone or Woody Allen (the one in “Interiors“), and others in which I am fascinated by, Wong Kar Wai and Jean Pierre Melville cannot be denied. I guess every filmmaker I have ever been felt captivated by had something in the film.

What is your definition of independent film?

Freedom of creation. To think only in your individual work shot after shot and attract the audience with it. Not to offer the audience what you already know will work. It doesn’t matter whether a Major is supporting you or you are working with a little money raised by a group of friends. Independence only has to do with freedom.

What are some of your favorite films?

That is question that cannot be answered. In my 34 years many films have inspired me, made me laugh, cry. They have moved me, frightened or revolted me. I would not be able to put “The Godfather” over and above “In the Mood for Love” or consider “Citizen Kane” more important than “Vertigo” or “Goodfellas.” I would need a long sheet of paper to make a list.

What are your interests outside of film?

Music, food, literature and sports (as a spectator, not an athlete).

How do you define success as a filmmaker? What are your personal goals as a filmmaker?

My main purpose is making films until get tired of it. Success depends on what you consider success is. For me, success is feeling pleased with what I do. If I were famous, rich and coveted as a filmmaker, but there was something I did that I didn’t like, I would be nearer to failure than to success.

Can you tell us a bit about your next projects?

A totally different story from “The Silly Age,” where I leave childhood to enter into the universe of old age. A story with humor, weapons, police, love, and tough men.

[Get the latest from the Toronto International Film Festival throughout the day in indieWIRE’s special Toronto ’06 section.]

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