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VIFF '09 Interview - Leslie, My Name is Evil director Reginald Harkema

By Jason Whyte
Posted 10/08/09 18:21:19

“Leslie, My Name is Evil is a pop art vision of the Manson Family as told through the story of Leslie, a cheerleader turned hippie death cult murderess, and Perry, a sexually repressed chemist, who falls in love with Leslie when he becomes a jury member at the Manson trial.” Director Reginald Harkema on the film “Leslie, My Name is Evil” which is screening at the 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival.

Growing up, you were no doubt asked the eternal question “When I grow up I want to be a …” Finish this sentence, please!

Ichthyologist…shark scientist. I was eight and “Jaws” was a blockbuster. The first and only time I have been influenced by Steven Spielberg.

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

Shooting a 1960s California period piece in Ontario in November. We grabbed 3 days of beautiful and when we got our last exterior, a minute later it started to snow. God must love “Leslie, My Name is Evil”!

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world (directors, actors, cinematographers, etc)? Did you have inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?

I love these list questions. Godard. French New Wave. Dziga Vertov. Russian montage. Melodrama. New Queer Cinema of the early 90’s. Fassbinder. “I’m Not There” by Todd Haynes. CNN and Turner Classic Movies.

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

Critical response is everything. But so is venue. Industry dailies killed this film on a sales level. But what else would you expect from a bunch of uptight straight guys who don’t get camp? Since then, there’s been a groundswell of serious film criticism praising “Leslie, My Name is Evil” as a piece of art rather than a widget. That don’t pay the bills, but at least it bodes well for the film’s profile in the future.

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

This movie’s got hot naked chicks killing people!

And finally…what is your all time favourite motion picture, and why?

The Mother and the Whore by Jean Eustache and I won’t explain why until you go and see it.

This is one of the many films playing at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival. For more information on the film’s screenings, showtimes and update information, point your browser to viff.org. – Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com

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