In the middle of her preparation for this weekend’s New York and L.A. opening of the SXSW 2007 premiere documentary, Steal A Pencil For Me, I asked director Michele Ohayon (Cowboy Del Amor) to answer a few quick questions about her acclaimed new film. The doc, a sweet and sad love story centered around the Holocaust, is without a doubt worth checking out. Audiences at SXSW loved it, and you should to. Here’s what Michele had to say:
Me: How was the process of discovering this story and making it a film, different from your previous features?
Ohayon: I had a huge challenge telling a love story that took place 60 years ago, with main characters that are now in their 80s and 90s. And, a story that revolves around letters, which are not visual. Being a cinema verite queen, i was facing the archival footage ordeal for the first time. I had to be extremely creative in telling the story in a visual way, but it all paid off!
Me: What was the couple’s reaction when they first saw the film?
Ohayon: They were speechless, for once. They loved it, loved it, loved it and were overwhelmed by the standing ovations. Jack claims that he saw it seven times, and every time he likes it even better. The first time they saw it was at SXSW!!
Me: It’s obviously heartbreaking material as well as truly uplifting. Was there a point in the production where you were afraid the doc might be too sad?
Ohayon: I was aware of it, and tried to keep it from “sinking” into the sad. I think that people are moved by the love story and the optimistic look the lovers had desite the horrible circumstances of the camps. I tried to avoid too many graphic images, yet keep a truthful portrayal of the era and the war.
Me: What’s next for you and where and when can people see the film after the first opening weekend?
Ohayon: I have several projects in the works. Surprises. We are playing Steal A Pencil For Me this week in New York and L.A. And perhaps next week, if people go see it this weekend! Otherwise, put it on your Netflix queue.