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Getting to Know 11 LAFF Directors to Watch

Getting to Know 11 LAFF Directors to Watch

The following is a series of interviews with directors whose films are screening at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival, which takes place June 18-28.

LAFF | America Unrolling Outside: “Passenger Side” Director Matthew Bissonnette

“In the spring of 2000, a friend and I drove my old Toyota Camry wagon from Los Angeles to New York City… That experience got me thinking about interior dialogues and exterior images, and I’m often thinking about brothers.”

LAFF | Queer Amour in Hollywood: “Hollywood, je t’aime” Director Jason Bushman

“For me, independent film is a grass-roots effort. It’s a private artistic and business endeavor, really, funded from all possible avenues and budgeted to provide the most bang for the smallest buck. “

LAFF | Exorcising Exes: “Harmony and Me” Director Bob Byington

“I’d had a bad breakup and it had seemed like the girl in question had put a microchip in my head, where every experience I had was involuntarily processed through a filter that involved my still being with her. The movie was meant to be an exorcism, but it was a failure in that regard.”

LAFF | Free Cruise Becomes Movie: “Wah Do Dem” Co-Director Ben Chace

“I won a free Caribbean Cruise for two in a raffle a few summers ago. Sam, my co-director, had just gotten back from shooting a film in Cambodia with Bajir Cannon, and suggested we use the cruise tickets to make a film. From there we began brainstorming different storylines, and got excited about juxtaposing these three different realms which we’d both had some experience with – hipster Brooklyn, luxury cruise tourism, and street level traveling in the third world.”

LAFF | Crossing Borders for Water: “Rehje” Directors Anais Huerta & Raúl Cuesta

“We wanted to introduce the problem of water and rural depopulation in the valley of Mexico through the story of a human being.”

LAFF | The Bee Suit Comes Off: “The Last Beekeeper” Director Jeremy Simmons

“I did an exploratory research shoot with a number of beekeepers in California’s central valley. Hearing their stories convinced me that this was a story with profound implications. It was a very personal tragedy for beekeepers, and posed some very important questions for the rest of us.”

LAFF | Telling Children’s Katrina Stories: “After the Storm” Director Hilla Medalia

“For me, it was the first time I was filming kids, so I had to learn how to get them to open up while being really gentle. What was really difficult was talking to them about some of the experiences they went through. It felt like it was closed in a box inside them and every time I tried to talk to them about it and open this box, they would be so emotional and cry.”

LAFF | Stories from the Ozarks: “Branson” Director Brent Meeske

“The biggest challenge was finding the characters. I knew there was something in Branson I wanted to make a documentary about, but after the initial success of finding the 60’s show, it was difficult locating the other stories.”

LAFF | Starting Over in Chile: “Turistas” Director Alicia Scherson

“I wanted it to be a very precise, specific movie: one character, one main location, it had to look very green and all the extras would be animals, bugs and trees.”

LAFF | Making a Feature in Kashmir: “Zero Bridge” Director Tariq Tapa

“I didn’t find out he was a gangster until I showed up with my camera and microphones. So, I met this gentleman, very nice, offered tea, a lovely host. And he absolutely looked the part I had in mind, and I liked the way he carried himself and thought he would work out as an actor.”

LAFF | Imaginary Friends, Blanket Tosses, and Diaries: “Dear Lemon Lima,” Director Suzi Yoonessi

“There were definitely challenges in making this film. It required a tremendous amount of energy and determination to make the world we were creating believable. The story did not take place in just any American suburb. It took place in Fairbanks, Alaska. It did not feature just any 13 year-old girl. It featured a half Yup’ik 13-year-old girl.”

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