“My film Akeda follows a child as he is being lead by a film director on a propaganda film set.” Director Dan Bronfeld on AKEDA which screens at VIFF 2018.
So how did you get into this business? Talk to me a bit about how you got your start and what you have worked on in the past.
Since an early age I got very interested in story telling, so my first tool I adopted was the camera which lead me years after to serve as a photographer along my military service in my country. After that time I felt I was interested to explore more than only the stillness of the image and started to make documentaries on the actual characters that I was following as a photographer. It was pretty amazing to see this transition. After years of documentaries I shifted to narrative, which I felt pretty organically since I had a story which I could not capture physically, so It encouraged me to recreate it. The visual storytelling was always an expressive and practical to share the things I saw and felt.
How did this project come together for you? Give me a rundown from the preparation, to shooting, to post-production to now!
Since I moved to the US from the Middle East I have started to observe, compare and ask quotation about the relation of the two. Los Angeles is a city that you can not escape the pop culture influence. It’s around you and every spot you’re turning your head. Meanwhile over the middle I started to notice this powerful cultural and aesthetics inspiringly embrace by another entity which realized the power of the medium, this was the Islamic State. This moment fascinated me and kept me learning this new species. The rest of it was this idea for a movie that will rise those question of this cultural entertainment encounter. How wars become a cinematic bat take field? What is our roll back in the West and responsibilities for the content we have created? Those type of question lead me to create AKEDA.
What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?
I think my strongest drive is the NEED of giving my ideas to appear visually and to get shared with the rest of the world. It’s even gets to a responsibility sense. Especially when I would like to believe that the stories I’m interested of telling have meaning and could make a change for some people.
What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?
It’s a hard question since filmmaking is an endless challenge. The biggest in my film was the casting process. The first one was the child since he had a very complex roll to play. To honestly I was very concerned about this decision of having the lead roll of a kid, but I did it. So finding was extremely hard. After seeing so many children i got even more concerned, but a suddenly we got last minute a tape from Florida of Gustavo Quiroz. His tape captured me immediately. The way he read the lines was fine but had the limitation of a tape rather then in person, but the way Gustavo reacted to the man who read of screening was very strong. Specially his eyes. I took the chance of casting him without meeting him, but felt very confident with this decision. The other lead Actor Karim Saleh I was trying to get from the start after seeing his stunning performance in other films he done. I was luck to have such two lead actors. The rest of the cast was unique and had it own journey to find each one of them. Eventually after you did this hard work of gather all of this talent together now was to see how the recreate your words and ideas. A reward that reveal to you why are we so much devoted to this long process of making films.
I’m about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie; what camera did you film with, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.
AKEDA was shoot by a very unique talented cinematographer, Kaushal Shah who I met during my Master studies. Kaushal grow up in Mumbai, India. His sensitivity to the world around him was very poetic to see and has reflected in any of his work. I felt that this is the human touch this story needs, and Kaushal was the right painter to draw this story. We filmed it with Sony F-5.
What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Vancouver?
I hope many hearts would experience my film. This is my wish.
After the film screens at Vancouver, where is the film going to show next? Theatrical, online, more festivals?
It will go to more festivals around the globe.
We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?
I’m still also learning along the way what it requires, but for now I could say from my experience is that you need to be Patient, consistent, believe in yourself and be open minded for the other people who you collaborate with.
And final question: what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?
I think it would be ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA by the great Nuri Bilge Ceylan. Who I’m very excited to watch his film THE WILD PEAR TREE which will screen in VIFF.
For more information on the film screenings at VIFF, point your browser to www.viff.org!