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Sundance Pre-Production: TOUCH OF PINK Writer/Director Ian Iqbal Rashid

Touch of Pink stars Jimi Mistry, Kyle MacLachlan, Kristen Holden-Ried and Suleka Mathew
by Chris Parry

THE ‘TOUCH OF PINK’ PITCH: Alim is an Ismaili Canadian who lives in London, thousands of miles from his family, for one very good reason - he has a boyfriend. His ideal gay life begins to unravel when his mother shows up to find him a proper Muslim girlfriend and convince him to return to Canada for his cousin's extravagant wedding.

“Alim lives with Cary Grant's ghost.”

1. Will this be your first time at Sundance? If not, what else have you been to Park City with?
First time.

2. When you were 14 years old, if someone asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would your answer have been?
A writer.

3. How did you get started in filmmaking?
My boyfriend sent a short story I wrote to the BBC - without telling me! They invited me into a workshop which led to an agent which led to script-writing gigs which led to....

4. How have things changed for you since your film was accepted into the festival?
More people around the world now seem to be interested in the film. And me. A kind of instant credibility.

5. When you were shooting the film, did you have Sundance in mind?
Nope. Just trying not to embarrass myself.

6. How did you get your film started? How did you go from script to finished product?
Initially the script was just a labour of love which I used as a writing sample. People liked it but I think were a bit scared off by its oddball-ness. But the script got me an agent and some more writing work. I continued script-writing and developed a healthy career writing for British television. I worked on a hit series in the UK called This Life which won tons of awards and a Writers' Guild of England award for me.
A few years later, the Canadian production company Sienna Films made contact with me in the UK and requested a writing sample. My agent sent them Touch of Pink, thinking a script set partly in Toronto might be a good read for them. They fell in love with it, had the courage to option it, and the project came to life. Soon afterward they joined forces with Martin Pope Productions in the UK. By the time the film was ready for production, I had directed a couple of successful short films (one produced by Martin Pope for BBC films) and so was a risky but appropriate candidate to direct Pink. Fortunately our financiers agreed.

7. What's the one glaring lesson you learned while making this film?
Work with people you like. It might not make your film better (though I believe it does) but it does make your life better.

8. When you were in pre-production, did you find yourself watching other great movies in preparation?
Nope. Didn't watch any movies until after the sound mix. Didn't want anything to mess with where I was going with my own film. It was hard enough figuring what I wanted at times without messing around with Pedro Almodovar or Sophia Coppola's intentions.

9. If a studio said 'we love this, we love you, you can remake anything in our back catalogue for $40m' - what film, if any, would you remake?
Preston Sturges' The Palm Beach Story. But I'd make the gay version.

10. Two parter - which actor would you cut off an arm to work with, and which relatively unknown actor on your own film do you want the world to start recognizing sooner rather than later?
Part One: would love to work with Diane Keaton. Annie Hall and Shoot the Moon were big influences on me--both amongst my favourite films--and she seems like a fun and intelligent person to be around.
Part Two: The film is filled with talent that needs to be uncovered but Suleka Matthew's part as Nuru allowed her the greatest opportunity to show her incredible talent and range and radiance.

12. The festival circuit: what could be improved, and what couldn't be?
Will tell you in a year. I go to Sundance as a festival virgin.

13. Have you 'made it' yet? If not, at what point will you be able to say 'yes'?
At great risk of sounding Oprah-esque it's all about being happy with your life, isn't it? I'd 'made it' before I started.

14. A film is made by many people, as well as the director, but often films will open with a credit that says "a film by?" - Did you use that credit in your film? If so, defend yourself! If not, what do you think of those who do?
Funny you should mention that. I wrestled with this one for days but finally, encouraged by friends whose opinions matter to me, I accepted the credit. But I do agree that this is a controversial issue. Film is truly collaborative and I think the director as auteur theory has been completely misunderstood.
My defence is, that if any film is an authored piece, then this one is. It's written by me (which in this case actually has more to do with wanting that particular credit than directing the film did) it's very autobiographical and personal in nature (comes wrenched from my guts, okay?!) and my voice is very present throughout.
And besides, my agent made me.

Touch of Pink stars Jimi Mistry, Kyle MacLachlan, Kristen Holden-Ried and Suleka Mathew, and it is screening as part of this year’s Sundance Premiere series.


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=938
originally posted: 01/17/04 16:53:48
last updated: 01/31/04 12:41:03
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