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Vancouver International Film Festival 2010 Interview - "Pulsar" director Alex Stockman

Pulsar - At VIFF 2010
by Jason Whyte

"Itís a movie about love, paranoia and radiowaves, in which two lovers are separated by a ocean of communication devices." Director Alex Stockman on the film "Pulsar" 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 will be my third movie screening at the VIFF; actually fourth if I include "Any Way the Wind Blows" which I produced. The first one was my debut feature "Verboden te zuchten (I know Iíll see your face again)" from 2001, and the second was a short called "Eva reste au placard les nuits de la pleine lune". I did quite a few festivals with those two movies, including Venice, Rotterdam, Mar del Plata, Angers, and Moscou.. Unfortunately I donít think I will be able to attend the VIFF this year.

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

Iím the son of a photographer. The streets of my birthplace Brussels opened my eyes and led me to the CinemathŤque. Thatís where Iíve got the dream and the drive from. I used to work for a Flemish magazine as a rock and cinema critic. Thatís where I met Kaat Camerlynck who convinced me that itís not so difficult to make movies. Together we founded a production company together, called 404 Films, later on transformed into Corridor.

Growing up, you were no doubt asked the eternal question ďWhen I grow up I want to be a ÖĒ

"ÖFormula 1 driver."

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

Initially "Pulsar" was conceived as a 40 minute film. But the subject matter inspired me a lot, so the screenplay quickly expanded, and the project bursted out of its middle length format. Editor Nico Leunen, with whom I had made "Eva reste au placard les nuits de la pleine lune" before, officially certified to me that itís a feature film. So we re-introduced the project at the Flemish film board, which allocated us an extra production grant. We also received some post production completion funding from the Centre du Cinema of the French community of Belgium. The movie was actually shot in three periods; 5 weeks in spring 2009, a couple of days in September, and two more days in Iceland in spring 2010. When it premiered at the Locarno Film Festival, the print came fresh from the lab.

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?

Every frame of a movie is a challenge really. One of the special moments that pops up into my mind is spending some time alone on the set, on a Saturday, and feeling the silent magic of it all, inventing some new sequences on the spot.

Tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the filmís cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.

I had worked before with cinematographer Sťbastien Koeppel before on "Eva reste au placard les nuits de la pleine lune." We shot that on Fuji Eterna and really loved that film stock, so we used it again, only 35mm film stock this time in stead of Super 16. Our intention was to create a cozy, rather casual atmosphere that glides almost imperceptibly towards vaguely fantastic territory. We didnít want any over the top or in your face effects. The camera movements and the lighting should make you forget thereís a camera, yet secretly remind you that it's cinema.

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?

Someone asked me if Samuel, the filmís protagonist, really exists. A bit of a puzzling question, but it somehow confirms that weíve created something thatís really alive. I also noticed that audiences attentively listen to the movie, which pleases me, since itís a very sound driven movie.

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

Antonioni, Godard, Bresson are the first ones that come to my mind. As to
"Pulsar", I didnít have any particular other movies or film makers in my mind and felt I was on my own planet. Quite some people have linked it to Polanski though, which I donít mind at all.

If you werenít in this profession, what other career do you think you would be interested in?

Astronaut.

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

Iíll have Winona Ryder, Tony Leung and Jean-Louis Trintignant , music by Johnny Marr, screenplay by Pedro Costa and producer Wong Kar-Wai.

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 guess critical and media response are two different phenomena, the latter being mainly created by marketers and internet. But film critics remain vital to keep film history alive and to muse on the shape of cinema to come.

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

The Le Grand Rex in Paris would be nice.

What would you say to someone on the street to see your film instead of the latest blockbuster playing at the local megaplex?

Ever seen a movie about love, paranoia and radio waves?

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?

The message is in your favourite movies. A good thing to start with is finding two or three solid partners in crime; a cameraman, an actor or an actress, an emerging producer.

And finallyÖwhat is your all time favourite motion picture, and why?

I donít have one, but as a salute to Claude Chabrol, who passed away recently, Iíll choose "Le Boucher".

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

Be sure to follow instant happenings of VIFF í10 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, efilmcritic.com


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=3105
originally posted: 10/11/10 09:09:24
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