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Whistler Film Festival Interview – “Kivalina v. Exxon” director Ben Addelman

Kivalina v. Exxon - At Whistler Film Festival
by Jason Whyte

“In an epic battle against the world’s biggest polluters – the oil and gas corporations – Kivalina, a tiny village in Northwest Alaska struggles to survive and save itself from the consequences of global warming.” Director Ben Addelman on the film “Kivalina v. Exxon” which screens at Whistler Film Festival, 2011 edition.

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

Yes it is my first time at the Whistler film festival. And yes I have been to quite a few other festivals; Sundance, Hot docs, and many more. I will be at our screening.

Tell me a little bit about yourself and your background, and what led you to wanting to make films.

Very shortly after graduating from Concordia’s Communications Studies program I started making a documentary film about the Israeli Palestinian tensions that had been developing on Concordia’s campus over the years. The National Film Board took an interest and that project become the NFB production “Discordia”. After that I kept making documentaries. “Kivalina v. Exxon” is my fourth film and my fifth film is currently in development with the NFB.

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

“…Rock and Roller.”

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

Steve Cosens was the cinematographer. He was excellent to work with and a great guy to travel with. We shot on the Panasonic P2 camera. It’s a great little camera and good for shooting in remote locations.

Out of the entire production, what was the most difficult aspect of making this film? Also, what was the most pleasurable moment?

Traveling and shooting was the most pleasurable – then when everyone gets tiered traveling and shooting becomes the most difficult.

How has the film been received at other festivals or screenings? If this is your first festival, what do you expect at the film’s screenings in Whistler?

Whistler is the first. I never know what to expect.

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

Of course it’s always very important but I try not to think about it too much.

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?

It is hard to answer this question. Everyone’s path is different.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or making noise at a screening of your movie (or any screening that you attend)?

Shut up, bro!

A question that is easy for some but not for others and always gets a different response: what is your favourite movie of all time?

It’s impossible to say. Probably the two movies I’ve watched the most frequently are “This is Spinal Tap” and “No Country for Old Men.”

This is one of the many films playing at this year’s Whistler Film Festival. For show information, tickets and for other general information on films and events, point your browser to the official website HERE

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 12/02/11 04:57:44
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