3D 5th Wave 70s Culture 80s Cinema A Night of Horror AAustralian film Action Activism Adaptation Adelaide Film Festival Adventure Advocacy African American Age of Adaline AI albanian Alien Abduction alien covenant aliens alt-right altzheimers amazon Amitabh Bachchan Animation anime anthology Anti-vaxx Ari Gold Art Asia Pacific Screen Awards Asian Cinema Australian film AV Industry Avengers Bad Robot BDSM Beach Boys Berlinale BFG Bianca Biasi Big Hero 6 Biography Biopic Blade Runner Blake Lively B-Movies Bollywood Breast Cancer Brian Wilson Brisbane Bruce Willis Camille Keenan Canadian Cancer candyman Cannes cannibalism Cannon Films Cesars CGI Chapman To Character Actors Charlie Hunnam Charlize Theron Chemsex China Lion Chinese Chloe Grace Moretz Chris Hemsworth Chris Pratt Christchurch christian cinema christmas Christopher Nolan Classic Cinema Clint Eastwood Close Encounters Cloverfield Comedy Coming-of-Age Conor McGregor Conspiracy Controversy Crowd-sourced Cult Cure Dakota Johnson Dance Academy Dardennes Brothers darth vader Debut Deepika Padukone Depression Disaster Movies Disney Diversity Documentary doomsday Dr Moreau drama Dunkirk Dustin Clare Dystopic EL James eli roth Elizabeth Banks Entourage Environmental Epic Erotic Cinema Extra-terrestrial Extreme Sports faith-based Family Film Fantasy Father Daughter Feminism Fifty Shades of Grey Film Film Festival Foreign found footage French Cinema Friendship Fusion Technology Gareth Edwards Gay Cinema Ghostbusters Ghosts Golan Globus Gothic Graphic Novel green inferno Guardians of the Galaxy Guillermo del Toro Gun Control Hacker Hailee Steinfeld Han Solo Happiness Harrison Ford Harry Dean Stanton Hasbro Haunted house Hhorror Himalaya Hitchcock Hollywood Holocaust Hong Kong


Terry Gilliam says the surrealistic masterpieces of Jan Švankmajer are, “magical, because they make reality mysterious.” One of the most unique visual artists that world cinema has ever known, the Czech visionary defied the strict regime of his homeland with a wave of subversive short films throughout 60s and 70s. When censorship eased in the mid-80s, Švankmajer directed such unclassifiable, often nightmarish features as the Lewis Carroll reinterpretation, Alice (1988); an unforgettable vision of the classic tale, Faust (1994); perhaps his masterwork, Conspirators of Pleasure (1996); and, his family drama Little Otik (2000), in which a husband and wife raise a tree root as their own.

The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) welcomed the 83 year-old master for the World Premiere of his first feature in eight years, Insects (Hmyz). Based upon the 1922 play by brothers Karel and Josef Capek, Švankmajer focuses on the group of amateur theatre players trying to resurrect the text, yet find theimselves being torn asunder by jealousy, greed, ego…and bugs. The director broke away from a Czech Film Industry function to sit with SCREEN-SPACE and discuss (via translator) his latest mesmerizing film…

SCREEN-SPACE: You are returning to material that you first explored back in 1970. What makes it relevant and still creatively satisfying to you in 2018?

ŠVANKMAJER: This was one of many, many ideas and subjects that I wasn’t allowed shoot back in the 1970s because of the regime and the strict censorship. The 1970s was a very fruitful, very creative time for me. Ideas were just flowing from me, so many interesting stories that I admit I took for granted back then. So I just put those interesting stories into my drawer, a very big drawer, and now, or more accurately from about the 90s onwards, I have been revisiting them one by one and shooting the movies. Of course, certain details have changed from what I envisioned back in the 70s, but the themes and characters are still very relevant to me. I’m not interested in fleeting themes, but material that is deeper and constant in all our lives. It was just my good luck that I stashed them in these drawers around my home, so that I could eventually open those drawers and use the ideas of a younger man to tell stories as an older one. (Pictured, above; a scene from Insects)

SCREEN-SPACE: I find those comments interesting because I found this is to be one of your most buoyant, even playful films, as if you are enjoying the storytelling process with renewed vigour.

ŠVANKMAJER: It is certainly true that I did enjoy the process and that the material inspired new creativity in me, which is perhaps what you have sensed when watching the film. But I don’t think ‘playful’ is the right word. Thematically, the film is actually one of the darkest I have ever made. There is humour, but to observe it more closely it casts a very dark perspective, seeks out the very darkest edges of our persona. I don’t want anyone going into this film thinking they will find the light humour you may find in an American film (laughs). (Pictured, above; Svankmajer, left, directing actor Jirí Lábus in Insects)

SCREEN-SPACE: Your decision to top-and-tail the film with your own direct-to-camera thoughts, as you say in the film like a foreword from a book’s author, is an inspired device. Was that always in the script or did it become apparent that the film needed context as the final edit drew near?

ŠVANKMAJER: Neither, frankly. Not back in the 70s nor recently when I was rewriting the original story to accommodate some new scenarios. Those moments in the film that adopt a documentary aesthetic or the scenes when the actors are relating their dreams are not passages you can conjure in script form. Those are moments that arise during the creative process on-set

SCREEN-SPACE: You draw from the Capek Brothers play, of course, and Kafka’s Metamorphoses. But I also noted Fellini-esque flourishes. What other filmmakers, artists, authors still inspire your work?

ŠVANKMAJER: I love Fellini! I still often think about his work, I have to admit. La Strada is wonderful, although Armacord is closest to my heart. But Fellini can be for me, and certainly for this project, too ornamental, too busy. Do you understand? I think the strongest influence on Insect was Bunuel. He is very close to my heart. 

SCREEN-SPACE: The online diary that wrote while in production gives fascinating insight into your directing methodology. I read with interest the passage, “I direct them as if they were puppets in an animated film…”

ŠVANKMAJER: (Laughs) I’m making imaginative films, works that draw upon specific imagery not always of this world. These are not ‘actor’ films; the story, and so much more, that is important to the film I want to make is not necessarily the responsibility of the cast. Each aspect of the production is equally crucial to what I want to make as any other aspect. Costumes, sound, editing – all those things have to combine for my films to work. My actors always take some time to get used my sets, because the way I make my films is something different. I play with them to get the effect, the end result that I need. I am their puppet master.




IFFR 2018: The setting provided to meet with Paul Schrader is appropriately magisterial. A corner boardroom, high-walled and white carpeted, near the third floor film festival offices in Rotterdam’s de Doelen building, has been turned into bare space; tall windows allow the steely grey morning light to fill the room. The 72 year-old industry icon sits alone at a small table in the far corner, checking his phone; despite the imposing space he commands, Schrader appears, in every respect, to be a respectable if unremarkable elderly gentleman. But his legacy is remarkable; after half a century as a gifted screenwriter (Taxi Driver; Rolling Thunder; Obsession; The Mosquito Coast; The Last Temptation of Christ; Bringing Out the Dead) and director, often of his own scripts (Hardcore; American Gigolo; Cat People; Mishima A Life in Four Chapters; Affliction; Auto Focus; The Canyons), his immense reputation fills the room.

Schrader is attending the International Film Festival Rotterdam with his latest film First Reformed, a dark spiritual journey in which a damaged chaplain (Ethan Hawke) crusades via increasingly desperate means for environmental change. He is also presenting ‘Dark and the Lessons Learned’, a frank account of his torrid experiences shooting, relinquishing, then resurrecting his 2014 Nicholas Cage thriller, Dying of The Light. His handshake is soft; his voice strong, if a little congested. Thankfully, Paul Schrader, once considered one of Hollywood’s darker personalities, is in a good mood. By the time SCREEN-SPACE settled into the chair opposite him, he was already talking movies…

SCREEN-SPACE: You come to Rotterdam on a wave of good will for First Reformed, which is getting some of the best reviews of your career.

SCHRADER: I’ve not had a bad screening of this film. It seems to work for people. In fact, because the film pulls so many things together, themes that I’ve worked with over the last 15 years – writing about spiritual things, making spiritual films – I’ve decided to enjoy this moment, this victory lap of touring around the world with the film. I’m doing a whole lecture tour at various seminaries around the US. I’ve updated a book that I wrote 45 years ago, called Transcendental Style in Film, and that gets republished in May. (Pictured, above; First Reformed stars Ethan Hawke, left, and Amanda Seyfried, with their director)

SCREEN-SPACE: Is this the first time you’ve ever fully explored in film what you wrote about in your book?

SCHRADER: It’s the first time I’ve ever had the desire to. It came about maybe 3 years ago. I was giving an award to Pawel Pawlikowski for his film Ida and we had dinner together, and I was taken back by how much I liked [Ida], responded to its themes and story. And I was alone, walking home, and just said out loud to myself, “It’s time you made one of these.” I had never thought I would make a contemplative film, but after that dinner with Pawel it struck me that I was 70 years old and that I should make one.

SCREEN-SPACE: How did that desire manifest through the lead character Toller, played by Ethan Hawke? How is your contemplative protagonist different from other Schrader leads?

SCHRADER: The main character stems from Robert Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest. The setting is from Bergman’s Winter Light; there’s a levitation scene I’ve taken from Tarkovsky. The ending, sort of from Borzage. And it’s all held together by the glue of Taxi Driver (laughs). Toller is a sick man, his main sickness being what Kierkegaard called ‘the sickness unto death’, which is despair and angst. He is trying to find any way he can through his sickness, be it drink or keeping his journal or the ritual of church services. When he meets this kid with another kind of despair, a sad resignation about the environment, he tries to counsel the kid but the kid kills himself. So Toller adopts the boy’s sickness, adapts it into his own despair, and becomes an environmentalist jihadist. Now, that despair has become much more immediate in our current times. In the past, 2000 years ago, when mankind spoke about the future they spoke hypothetically, will no real notion of the end of days. Nowadays, such discussions are not so hypothetical. (Pictured above; Ethan Hawke as Toller, in First Reformed) 

SCREEN-SPACE: Let me read from Owen Gleiberman’s Variety review, in which he states your film exhibits, “the transcendental austerity of Bresson, Dreyer and Ozu”. What does it mean to be spoken of in that sort of company?

SCHRADER: It is a contemplative film. Most films lean into you, are desperate for your attention. Here’s a beautiful naked person, here’s some loud music to tell you how to feel. Another way a film can work, the way I think and hope First Reformed works, is to lean away from you. They give you less, slow it down, delay the cuts, don’t have music. When movies lean away, which is inherently an uncommercial thing to do, then the viewer can lean into the film, or they can leave. That’s the delicate dance that a filmmaker who works on the slow side has to do. Asking of yourself, ‘How can I slow it down? How can I withhold things from you and get you to come and join this story without boring you? Or at least boring you too much.’ (Laughs) (Pictured, above; Robert Bresson)

SCREEN-SPACE: I find it interesting that both you and your Taxi Driver collaborator Martin Scorsese, with his recent film Silence, have turned to the spiritual, contemplative narrative at this point in your creative lives…

SCHRADER: That was material I had once considered. After Mishima, producers in Japan asked if there was something I would like to do in their country. I knew that Marty had let the rights lapse on that book and I never thought he was ever going to make it. So I tried to secure it, but he caught me.

SCREEN-SPACE: When I spoke with Bret Easton Ellis about The Canyons, he said, “Schrader is a drill sargeant on the set and a lot of crazy as well, but all in a good way.” Does that sum up your directorial mantra?

SCHRADER: (Laughs) A film set is not a democracy and has to move very efficiently. Directors tend to be alpha types, whether male or female. You don’t really get recessive personality types becoming directors. And that is what’s expected of you, to be decisive and driven. You don’t want a drill sargeant who says, ‘What should we do today?’ Today, a film shoot goes so fast. A shoot that would’ve once been 40 days is now a 20-day shoot, and you have more footage. Someone like Ethan prefers the pace, because he says he never leaves ‘the zone’. A long shoot has a lot of dead time, whereas at the modern pace you just work, work, work. (Pictured, left; Schrader, centre, directing The Canyons)

SCREEN-SPACE: You have spent the last two decades writing narratives for the more mature leading man. Ethan Hawke, two films with Nicholas Cage, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Nick Nolte, the late James Coburn. Given the key demographic for the Hollywood suits are the under 25s, dealing with the financiers must be a challenge?

SCHRADER: I don’t think a film should unnecessarily expose anyone to financial risk. It should fit within key financial parameters. If I make a film like First Reformed, it has to have a certain budget. Whether it fails or succeeds commercially, we shot it responsibly. If I keep my budget down, that affords me the freedom to do things that other people can’t do, work that I find creatively interesting. Also, we are moving away from the theatrical distribution model, which, frankly, I don’t think is a necessarily bad thing. We have had theatrical distribution solely as a means by which to monetize movies, and it’s been the best way to do it for 100 years. Now, I’m thinking it’s not the best, most efficient way to do it. The theatre experience came out of a certain environment, and now there’s a different environment. For a film like First Reformed, which operates on the quiet side, it is good to start the conversation in a theatre. Critics should see it in a theatre; festival audiences will appreciate it in a theatre. But once the identity of the film is established, audiences can watch it anywhere that works for them. (Pictured, above; Nick Nolte, left, and Schrader on the set of Affliction)

SCREEN-SPACE: During your Masterclass, you derided a new breed of producer, one central to the horrible experience you had on Dying of The Light. Surely the ‘just-in-it-for-the-money’ producer is not a new Hollywood thing to a seasoned veteran such as you?

SCHRADER: It is a new Hollywood thing. In the past, people came to filmmaking through filmmaking, rising through the ranks of production companies or agencies or television, some entity within the community. Now, you are getting investors who really aren’t film people, who don’t watch a lot of movies. In the past, if you ran a film company, you were a film person. Now, the executives come from Coca-Cola, or from a toy company; people that just move from one boardroom to the next. I started out in the studio system, the first five films I did were studio pictures. But by the 80s the studios had changed, so I started making independent films. And now, the independent world is changing and you are doing essentially ‘internet films’. (Pictured, above; Nicholas Cage in Dying of The Light)

SCREEN-SPACE: I find it fascinating that so many of your films - Hardcore, Cat People, Mishima, Light of Day, Light Sleeper, Auto Focus - didn’t find favour with critics or audiences, yet have this enduring quality that makes them resonate today. What aspect of your storytelling gives these films such a life?

SCHRADER: I guess because they are singular. There’s only one film like Mishima. There’s certainly only one film like Auto Focus (laughs). They don’t blend into the landscape. Taxi Driver still stands out there. They are idiosyncratic; perhaps engage the mind more actively. A film like Patty Hearst, which is essentially about a person in a closet, doesn’t happen much. (Pictured, above; Schrader, left, directing Michael J. Fox and Joan Jett in Light of Day)

SCREEN-SPACE: Finally, please indulge me a story about the version of Close Encounters of The Third Kind that you wrote called Kingdom Come. An extraordinary script that Mr Spielberg perhaps did not fully appreciate…

SCHRADER: Oh, gosh. I remember when I met with Steven on it, which became an argumentative discussion. I had partly based the lead character on St Paul, a guy who debunked extra-terrestrial stories but has his own Road to Damascus experience and becomes a proselytiser for the phenomenon. I said to Steven, “I refuse to write a story about the first man to leave our solar system with the sole goal of setting up a McDonalds.” He said, “That’s exactly who I want.” (Laughs



IFFR 2018: Works from all corners of the international short film community earned plaudits when the judging panel at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) announced the Ammodo Tiger Short Film competition winners on Sunday January 28.

The jury consisted of Chinese filmmaker Ying Liang, who won a Tiger Short trophy in 2009 for Condolences; Dutch graphic designer Mieke Gerritzen; and, Kenyan filmmaker Jim Chuchu, founder of Nairobi-based arts initiative The Nest Collective. The winners were chosen from a field of 22 entrants, including 14 world premieres.

The three films to each earn the €5,000 cash prize were Mountain Plain Mountain, a co-production from Spain, Japan and The Netherlands co-directed by Araki Yu and Daniel Jacoby; director Sara Cwynar’s iPhone teen odyssey Rose Gold (pictured, right), from The USA; and, the latest installment of Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai’s meditative and sombre consideration of death, With History in a Room Filled with People with Funny Names 4, which draws upon the cultures of The USA, Thailand, South Africa and The United Kingdom. (Pictured, top; IFFR directors Bero Beyer, left, and Janneke Staarink, right, with Daniel Jacoby, Araki Yu, Sara Cwynar, and European Film Award nominee Heather Phillipson).

The jury commended the diversity of the narratives while recognising the humanism that binds the winning films. On Mountain Plain Mountain, they stated  “the directors find the microcosmos into which all the loneliness and the isolation of human beings is to be found.” In discussing Rose Gold, the jury said, “The film has been chosen because of the innocent imagery that also makes us feel uncomfortable, because we know that our world isn’t sweet and soft only.”

Arunanondchai’s work (pictured, left) earned particularly high praise, the jury remarking, “There are moments of breathtaking beauty in this ambitious, sprawling, yet deeply moving film. This film reminds us that for all our tech-enabled and capital-fuelled hubris, we remain lonely as we reach for greater meaning, staying inevitably mortal.”

Also honoured was Heather Phillipson’s WHAT’S THE DAMAGE from the U.K. (pictured, right), a timely reaction to the patriarchal white power cabals that govern world. The film was nominated by the IFFR judging panel to compete in the short film category at European Film Awards, to be held in Seville on December 15. "An amazing and original work with unexpected imagery composed as a new aesthetic,” noted the Tiger Short jury, noting, "There is infinite room in the world for cultural works that dissect, critique and rebuke the ghastly political phenomenon that is Trump, and WHAT’S THE DAMAGE is a worthy addition to that canon."

Amongst those competing for the IFFR Tiger Short awards were Australian-born, Paris-based Mel O’Callaghan with Dangerous on the Way, a shared production between Australia and Borneo.

All the nominated films will be screened over the remaining days of the IFFR, which runs until Sunday February 4 at various venues across Rotterdam.



IFFR 2018: Compiled from a lifetime of footage courtesy of the subject himself, the immense task of collating the images into a coherent whole ensures Have You Seen The Listers? is a groundbreaking feat for director Eddie Martin. That the life story of Anthony Lister should also prove such a profoundly personal insight into both the creative process and turbulent family life of the internationally acclaimed Australian artist is a remarkable cinematic achievement. “Individuals that push themselves and challenge the status quo inspire me,” says Martin, who has celebrated the outsider’s spirit in his films Jisoe (2005), Lionel (2008) and All This Mayhem (2014). The director spoke with SCREEN-SPACE ahead of his latest film’s international premiere at the prestigious International Film Festival Rotterdam

SCREEN-SPACE: When the footage became available to you, did you search for content that served a specific vision you had of Anthony’s life? Or were the twelve terabytes a kind of ‘co-storyteller’, guiding and influencing your own creativity?

MARTIN: There’s no question the available archive material will dictate elements during the making of a documentary film. However to begin the process of making this particular film, first and foremost it was about spending time with Anthony, getting to know him, his story and world. It was later when he presented me with his personal archives, I was able to evaluate the material in relation to the narrative and draw a greater sense of what l could utilise. Once I had a handle on all the elements, I was able to activate my vision for the film.

SCREEN-SPACE: Did Anthony give you free rein to tell his story through your eyes, or were there moments when he was ‘over your shoulder’ during the editing?

MARTIN: Being artistic by nature, Anthony (pictured, right) was incredibly trusting with the process and gave me the space to work independently, which I greatly appreciated. With that said I did show him an edit. I have a great deal of respect for my documentary subjects. You have to be incredibly brave to share your life with the world and it’s a responsibility I don’t take lightly. I didn’t want there to be any nasty surprises and I also wanted to ensure he was okay with everything we were putting out there. There are some incredibly personal and confrontational scenes. We talked through any concerns, there were a few things we had to look into due to legal reasons, but apart from that he was happy to share his story with audiences. Anthony is a unique, highly creative individual and I’m genuinely honoured for the trust he’s given me.

SCREEN-SPACE: What was the human trait, the essence of Anthony as both a man and an artist, that you felt had to be conveyed?

MARTIN: Anthony’s a really passionate character. While he makes mistakes along the way his battle to make art accessible and understood is a honourable one. Prioritising the passion he has for his work over family isn’t uncommon. Repeating the behavioural patterns of our parents is also universal. He has the confidence to express himself and the self-awareness to be honest about his mistakes.  I think this is something to be valued.

SCREEN-SPACE: I’m interested in Anika’s involvement with the production. She seemed open and willing to discuss their time while together on-camera, yet all but disappears from the film after they separate. Was that your call or hers?

MARTIN: It was both. Firstly Anthony’s story is told in a linear fashion, once separated Anika (pictured, left) was no longer present in Anthony’s world. So it didn’t make sense for her to provide commentary. The interview she gave was what she was comfortable with. Anika is an artist in her own right. She was incredibly open in revisiting, an at times, difficult past.  For me it was extremely important to hear her side of the story, we were very fortunate to have her involvement and I think it’s a side of the story we don’t hear often enough.

SCREEN-SPACE: The subjects of your films have been immensely talented individuals, rising from tough beginnings and overcoming social stigma and personal demons, to face the world on their own terms. What draws you to these types of enigmatic personalities?

MARTIN: I’m drawn to anti-heroes on the fringes of society, especially in today’s mainstream where corporate interests stifle personality. I think it’s important to hear stories from these alternative voices that present different ways of viewing the world while also sharing lessons learnt.

SCREEN-SPACE: From chronicling the life of one street artist in Jisoe twelve years ago, to revisiting the street artist’s existence in …Listers, how have you noticeably developed as an artist/filmmaker/storyteller?

MARTIN: Jisoe was my first film and therefore a purely instinctual process. I had no budget, but I did have a camera and a computer to edit on. It was all I needed to get excited and motivated to try making a documentary film. Now twelve years later, I still rely on my instincts. But what’s changed put simply is a developed understanding of story and structure. I’m grateful to have the support to work with budgets and more importantly a team. Filmmaking is a team sport and for good reason. I have worked with some amazing people and learnt a great deal from all of them along the way. I’m still learning with every film and that’s part of the experience I value the most.

HAVE YOU SEEN THE LISTERS? will screen at the Inetrnational Film Festival Rotterdam from January 29. Ticket and venue information can be found at the IFFR official website.



The very existence of a film like The Wound (Inxeba) within the South African film sector is remarkable. Johannesburg-based writer-director John Trengrove crafted the gay-themed narrative to, “push back against clichéd stereotypes of black masculinity perpetuated inside and outside of African cinema.” Central to the film is the tribal circumcision ceremony called Ukwaluka, a rite-of-passage tradition practiced by the Xhosa men during which teenage ‘initiates’ are mentored by young men (khankathas), who nurse them through the trying ordeal. With The Wound building momentum ahead of the US award season (at time of writing, it is shortlisted for the Foreign Film Oscar), Trengrove spoke to SCREEN-SPACE from Sao Paolo, Brazil, about the controversial and frank drama that questions and challenges the perception of the male-dominated African society…

SCREEN-SPACE: When you first started shopping the script around, what reaction did you get from the South African film industry as whole, and perhaps most importantly, the Xhosa people. Was this kind of depiction of their young men something they were immediately open to exploring?

From the beginning there was a strong traditionalist resistance to the idea of the film. We were seen as audacious for even suggesting that same-sex behaviour happens in these kinds of spaces. Of course, all our research showed the opposite, and there was, from the onset, many champions of the project, both from within and outside the Xhosa culture. From an industry standpoint, many colleagues thought we were committing commercial suicide. Who would watch a gay African film? Ironically it's precisely that intersection - a story about same sex desire set in the context of a traditional African custom - that has given the film all it's traction.

SCREEN-SPACE: You create a very volatile dynamic - a depiction of repressed homosexual passion within the context of a brutal and traditional passage into manhood. Was the search for your leads a particularly difficult period? Finding actors to explore the darker aspects of this narrative?

It was a long process. We knew we wouldn't be able to attract mainstream actors, for fear of a public backlash. For this reason we auditioned many non-professionals. We took more than a year and put hundreds of young men on camera. We had a rule...everyone we cast had to be first language Xhosa speakers and had to have first hand experience of the initiation. All three of the leads are very special individuals who, for their own personal reasons, decided to participate. They knew they'd face criticism, but they also believed in what the film was about. (Pctured, above; lead actor Nakhane Touré, centre, in The Wound).

SCREEN-SPACE: What discussions were had when deciding upon the degree to which the film would depict the circumcision ritual?

The community in the film are a real Xhosa community who practice the ritual twice a year. They had complete carte blanche to represent themselves and the ritualised sequences were shot as documentary with no directorial intervention. The most sensitive and taboo details of the practice were omitted. We were never interested in making an expose. 

SCREEN-SPACE: Comparisons are inevitable to Oscar-winner Moonlight. Are there films that have influenced you as a storyteller that we can see in The Wound?

Many films along the way. In particular I was watching a lot of Carlos Reygadas (Japón, 2002; Silent Light, 2007; Post Tenebras Lux, 2012) while I was writing the film. 

SCREEN-SPACE: The ritual takes place within a traditional tribal setting, but there are highways and power lines, and one very funny sequence about the social status of Blackberrys vs. iPhones. This old-vs.-new societal depiction strengthens the duality of the films themes, yes?

Absolutely. It was very interesting to explore the ways in which this ancient ritual rubs up against a westernised industrial world. There is another idea in the film, which is that individual freedom and self-identifying as gay is a middle class privilege. Also, from a traditionalist perspective, that being urbanised intersects with notions of whiteness and softness. (Pictured, left; co-stars Niza Jay Ncoyini, left, and Bongile Mantsai in The Wound).

SCREEN-SPACE: You use very tight framing, very intimate camera angles. When you go wide at the end, as the two protagonists look out over the highway, it is quite a shock. How would you describe the filming style you and your DOP employ?

We wanted to resits the "National Geographic" approach of fetishizing bodies against the African landscape. To put it bluntly, the characters of our story don't care about the landscape in the way that outsiders might. The story is about these men's bodies and what their bodies mean in a social context. For this reason it made sense to stay close to the characters rather than keeping an observational distance. I also liked the sense of claustrophobia this created. We needed to feel confined in spite of the wide, open spaces. On the few occasions when we did use wides, the effect is jarring rather than harmonious, as you suggest.

THE WOUND begins its Australian season on February 8 in select cinemas via distributor IC/OT Entertainment.