Tag Archives: Directing

Oh, girl: A Talk with Julie Taymor

At the 31st edition of Göteborg International Film Festival, back in early February 2008, I participated in a press session and a Masterclass with American stage and film director Julie Taymor (Frida, Across the Universe). It was a great day, and I got to talk quite a bit with Taymor about a wide range of topics. I wrote it up for my editor at Norwegian film magazine Rushprint (Norwegian version here), and now I’ve finally written an English language translation. Taymor’s reflections upon her working method, her films and thoughts upon the visual arts, really makes for an interesting read. Or at least so I think. Here it is, “Oh, girl: A Talk with Julie Taymor“:

Director Julie Taymor

Director Julie Taymor

The idiograph

“The first thing I do when I’m creating, either for stage or for cinema, is to find the idiograph of the story. Which is; the one, simple expression that can tell everything. And at the same time be recognizable for the audience. It’s like in old Japanese paintings – if you were to paint a bamboo forest, you should be able to find its essence with only three strokes,” says American stage and film director Julie Taymor with coruscating eyes and gesticulating hands. We’re sitting in a café in Gothenburg, Sweden (and I note to myself that I’ve learned a new word: idiograph.).

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Filed under Directing, Interview

The Soloist – interview with Abbas Kiarostami

So, on with the first interview published on Subtitles to Cinema. It is a conversation I had with the great Iranian film director Abbas Kiarostami a while ago. Hope you enjoy it!

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Abbas Kiarostami makes only one half of his films. The rest is up to the audience to create themselves.

“I prefer to work alone,” he says.

Abbas Kiarostami

Photo: Hanne Hvattum (contact)

The Iranian film director, photographer and poet is sitting across from me on a soft bench in the middle of Oslo’s Stenersen Museum, surrounded by walls with his own huge, black/white photos. The precise, short-worded and patient man in his sixties have got his sunglasses so firmly joined to his nose that they seem to have been with him since birth. And what is he talking about in this moment? To be alone. Working in solitude, without anyone interfering with him.

“The video camera has liberated the cinema artist,” says Kiarostami. “Now, we’re no longer trapped by big budgets and large crews when we are about to make film. An artist should be mostly alone with his tools: The camera and the actors, or objects.”

In Kiarostami’s video work Five dedicated to Ozu (2003) you can find a characteristic scene: A piece of wood, sized like a fist is washed onto the shore. The waves pushes it gently up and down in the sand for a few minutes, until a smaller piece of the wood comes off from the large one. The smallest wooden piece remains on the beach, but he larger one floats out to sea.

There’s similar scenes in many of Kiarostami’s photographies; motives from nature that allude to what he wants to say about us humans. A treet that stands alone, separated from a group of trees that stands together like soldiers.

“To me, nature represents an escape from daily life, the political life, society and city life.”

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Filed under Directing, Interview, Iranian cinema