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Vancouver International Film Festival 2010 Interview – “Transfer” director Damir Lukacevic

Transfer - At VIFF 2010
by Jason Whyte

“The near future. Hermann and his wife Anna, at the end of their lives, are pursuing the old dream of starting all over. In a sanatorium they get to buy the bodies of two Africans. Via Personality Transfer, Hermann and Anna acqure full control over the bodies of the Africans, for twenty hours a day. To secure their families’ survival in Africa, Apolain and Sarah have decided to sell the only thing they own and which is worth a lot of money on the European market: Their bodies so young, healthy and beautiful, that one of the many European millionaires wants to own it. Only at night Apolain and Sarah wake up and can be themselves again for four hours. After the Personality Transfer, life changes for all four people involved.” Director Damir Lukacevic on the film “Transfer” which screens at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival.

Is this your first film in the VIFF? Do you have any other festival experience? Do you plan to attend Vancouver for the screenings?

This is my first film in the VIFF. “Transfer” received the audience award at its German premiere in May at the 20. Filmkunstfestival in Schwerin. After that “Transfer” was shown in Shanghai, in Pula, Croatia) and in Neuchatel, Switzerland. Soon it will be shown in Lund, Sweden, at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas, at the Shriekfest in Los Angeles, in Malaga, Spain and at the International Film Festival in Sao Paolo, Brazil.

I myself will be in Vancouver.

Could you give me a little look into your background and what led you to the desire to want to make film?

I was born in Zagreb, Croatia but raised up in Germany. As a kid I was always reading books, comic strips, listening to music, watching films. I think I never had a choice to do something else, I had to make movies.

How did this project come to fruition? If you could, please provide me with a rundown, start to finish, from your involvement.

“Transfer” is based on a short story written by the Spanish science fiction writer Elia Barcelo. I always liked the stories written by Stanislaw Lem or Phillip K. Dick. You descreibe the future but what you actuall mean is to describe the hopes and the fears of the presence. What I liked about the story was that I could combine a couple of aspects of filmmaking, such as the visuality, the political aspect, the philosophical aspect, the surreal and the thriller. After I read the short story by Elia Barcelo, I knew I had to make this film. But for Germany, this a very uncommon film project and genre. It took me three years to realize it.

What was the biggest challenge in the production of the movie, be it principal photography or post-production? What was your favourite moment of the process?

The identification of four people/four souls inside of two bodies was an artistic challenge for all of us. I wanted to achieve that the audience can recognize in every scene which character he or she is looking at. I wanted to achieve this through every aspect of filmmaking. But first of all it was a big challenge for the actors. I needed to find two young actors who are black, young, beautiful and have the sensitivity to play both young Africans and old white Europeans inside the bodies of two Africans. I was searching on three continents for those actors, in Africa, in Europe and in North America. Finally I was lucky to find them after a very long search in Los Angeles; B.J. Britt who plays Hermann & Apolain along with Regine Nehy who plays Anna & Sarah.

Talk a bit about the experiences that you have had with the film. Have you had any interesting audience stories or questions that have arisen at screenings?

I had a lot of good discussions at film festivals with people who saw the film. That is actually the main reason why I want to come to Vancouver. For me as a filmmaker, it’s always the best thing to get in touch with the audience and to see if the film works for the audience.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world? Did you have inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?

Concerning science fiction films, there was “Seconds” by John Frankenheimer, “Coma”, “Gattaca”, “Soylent Green”, A Scanner Darkly”, “Dr. Jekyll und Mr. Hide” and “The Dead Zone.”

If you weren’t in this profession, what other career do you think you would be interested in?

Maybe a gardener or a cook.

Please tell me some filmmakers or talent that you would love to work with, even if money was no object.

Janusz Kaminski, Christopher Walken, Tom Hanks, Sean Penn, Al Pacino, Natalie Portman, Johnny Depp, Merryl Streep, Howard Shore, Stuart Dryburgh and Roger Deakins, among many others.

How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?

I think the critical & media response is absolutely crucial for a film. You need a good film, the support from the media and a lot of luck if you want to reach an audience.

If your film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?

Pyongyang, North Korea.

No doubt there are a lot of aspiring filmmakers at film festivals who are out there curious about making a film of their own. Do you have any advice that you could provide for those looking to get a start, and especially for those with films in the festival circuit?

Believe in yourself. Tell your own stories. And don’t give up.

This is one of the official selections in this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival lineup. For more information on films screening at this year’s fest, showtimes, updates and other general info, point your browser to

Be sure to follow instant happenings of VIFF ’10 on my Twitter account @jasonwhyte, including mini-reviews of films, comments on festival action and even a Tweetphoto or two. #viff10 is the official hashtag.

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 10/08/10 11:22:58
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