“I was just freshly married and already thinking anout getting a divorce. So I thought of my grandparents and asked myself. How did they manage? They were married over 50 years. Did they knew something our generation had forgotten? Or was it just the “duty” that they stayed together. The absence of an exit possibility?” — Director Yasemin Samdereli on THE NIGHT OF ALL NIGHTS which screens at the 25th edition of HotDocs.
Great to have you here at HotDocs! Are you going to be attending your screenings?
Yes! I will be there on Saturday, April 28th at 9:30pm at the TIFF Bell Lightbox 2 and at the second screening on Monday the 30th at 12:45pm. Unfortunately I can’t be here for the final screening. This is my first date with Hot Docs!
Tell me more about your process of getting this documentary project together!
We started in 2012 by trying to get funding for this project. We failed. I think it was mainly because my sister and I, as we work together as a team, do both mainly fictional projects. We just had done a really successful movie called ALMANYA – WELCOME TO GERMANY. So everybody was irritated that we didn’t do a sequel. Then we got another very well known documentary director and producer on board, Arne Birkenstock, and together we made the concept more international and applied a year later for money. This time we were supported. Shortly after that our distributors got on board as well.
How long was your process from beginning to end and did you have any challenges during the filming process?
We started in 2012 and finished the movie in 2017. We had a lot of challenges. Starting finding the couples. Finding couples who are together isn’t an easy task. Finding people who are willing to speak honestly about the up and down of their love lives, even more so. Additionally we were looking for couples in India and Japan. And then the language barrier. I was really scared. How do you manage to get intimate with people you can’t speak without an interpreter? The editing of the material was also a big challenge. Imagine having to edit dialogue which you don’t really understand. The clay animation, which was from the very beginning part of the concept was also a huge challenge. It took very long to get it done. But I should also mention that I had a child in between. That added LOTS of joy but made things, of course, a bit slower.
How long did post-production take and editing the final product together?
The post production did take two years but as I said, I was pregnant while shooting our last couple.
Throughout the whole process, what kept you going while making this feature? What drove you? How much coffee are we talking about here?
I just loved the idea of old couples taking about themselves. And once you meet the couples who we found for this documentary you realize that I really fell in love with them. Luckily I don’t drink coffee. My motto is: when the going gets tough, the tough eat chocolate.
A very technical question, but what kind of cameras and editing equipment did you use to capture this documentary?
It was edited on Final Draft. The camera we used was a Canon!
What excites you the most about presenting this to HotDocs audiences?
One of our main subjects, Bill & Norman, will be there to see the movie. I should explain that Bill & Norman are one of the four couples of our movie. Two men from the US who have been together for more then 55 years now. There love story is incredible and they still have not seen the movie yet.
After the movie shows at HotDocs, where is the movie going next? Are there any other festivals coming up?
To be honest I don’t know any details. I want to show our movie as fast as possible to the other couples. Therefore I am hoping that we can screen our movie in Japan and India as well.
How do you feel with the theatrical experience versus streaming debate for documentaries? Are you okay with the movie going to streaming/digital only, or do you strive for the theatrical experience?
I love the cinema. Maybe that is just a sign for me being old fashioned. In my ideal, movies have first a theatrical release and then go to a streaming platform.
What is the one piece of advice you would say to anyone looking into making a documentary short or feature for the first time?
I always say. Don’t listen to advice. It is important that filmmakers follow their instincts.
And finally, what is your all time favorite documentary feature film?
It is not one all time favourite as there are too many great documentaries to just have one! I would like to mention two movies; the first is called AUTUMN GOLD by Jan Tenhaven and the second is RHYTHM IS IT by Enrique Sanchez Lansch.
This is one of the many movies playing at #HotDocs25. For more information and screening times visit www.hotdocs.ca!