Interviews

LouderThanBombs

Louder Than Bombs made its premiere almost a year ago at the Cannes Film Festival. The film marked a big step for the Norwegian director. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Gabriel Byrne and Isabelle Huppert, it was his first feature film with American actors. I recently talked to the director about the film, his style, and how this film makes him feel like he’s the luckiest guy alive.

Awards Daily: This was the first time you’ve worked with American actors. How was that for you?

Joachim Trier: I actually went to film school in London, the National Film and TV School.

AD: No way.

JT: Yes, it’s true, in Beaconsfield. I lived in England for a while, so I had the experience of working with a lot of English speaking actors before this. But, this is my first time making a feature film in the English language in America.

I’d done some films in Norway before — Reprise. Part of the motivation of doing this was to work with these kind of actors. The thing about it, was we set the film up in a way that it wasn’t going to be dependent on having the most famous actors in the world, but people that were prominent, but were also good actors.

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French film-maker Arnaud Desplechin likes to challenge himself with each film by trying out something different. With his latest release, My Golden Days, Desplechin took on the challenge of working with teenagers and breaking up narrative. The film depicts Paul Dédalus (Mathieu Amalric) looking back on his life, and reflecting on an affair he had as a teenager with a young woman, Esther (played by Lou Roy-Lecollinet).

I caught up with Desplechin to talk about making the film and delve into the inspirations behind the storytelling.

Arnaud Desplechin

 

Awards Daily: One thing that strikes me is how beautiful the narrative is. Talk to me about that.

Arnaud Desplechin: Thank you for that. When I started writing it, I knew I didn’t want to write a novel. In a way, I had already done that with My Sex Life… or How I Got Into an Argument and so this is a story of a man plunging into his memories. When I do plunge into my own memories, it’s only bits and pieces that I recall which don’t make sense. So, I knew that I wanted three stories, rather than one.

Each story would belong to different areas, one was about childhood and almost like a poem to his childhood, we kept that part short at just seven minutes.

After that, we had the trip to the USSR, and finally we had the coming of age part. I thought it would be different and close to my own memories that aren’t one logical story, but bits and pieces of recollections. I look at them and wonder how is it possible that I experienced different things and what sense do they have. This was the way I tried to construct it like a brain process, rather than the narrative.

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Kristin Hahn moved to Los Angeles, a stranger in this town. She didn’t know anyone. She just knew she wanted to tell stories. Even then she wasn’t aware of what that entailed. One phone call changed her path. Hahn would get a job working with Bob Ellison, her mentor. At night she attended USC.
Today Hahn is a producer, behind such films as The Departed, Cake and The Time Traveller’s Wife. Next up she’s working on Stargirl staring Joey King with Catherine Hardwick directing.
I recently had the chance to catch up with Hahn to talk about her journey in this town, and discuss her latest film, Tumbledown.

Awards Daily: First of all, I’m glad to be speaking to a female producer. Now, I have to say how refreshing it was to see Rebecca Hall in this role.

Kristin Hahn: She’s the best, she’s so dreamy and I love her in this role, and I feel like you just want to live with her.

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BRIDGEND 2

A quiet community is in he path of danger when a sudden tsunami threatens to destroy them. A geologist battles to find and save his family. This is The Wave. It’s not a Hollywood blockbuster. It was this year’s official submission for Norway in the Best Foreign Language film category. I managed to catch up with director Roar Uthaug to discuss the challenges of working with water and a budget of $5 million dollars — and see what beans he could spill about the Tomb Raider reboot.

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Just as the voting closes for this week’s Oscars, I had the chance to catch up with Ruben Feffer. Feffer is wrapping up a vacation, but he still had time to talk about composing Boy and the World.

The animated feature is nominated for an Oscar. Containing very little dialogue, music is integral to the plot. I spoke to Feffer about the challenges of composing a film purely reliant on its score.

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In 2012’s The Act of Killing, filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer explored the mass genocide in Indonesia from 1965 to 1966, exposing the horrors of that regime. In this year’s The Look of Silence, Oppenheimer profiles Adi Rukun, a man born soon after the massacres, who confronts the perpetrators who killed his brother during that time.

We’re honored to share this interview with Oppenheimer and Rukun as they discuss the fears they faced to make this film. The Look of Silence is nominated for Best Documentary Feature. Read how the Indonesian government has reacted to the film.

The interview closes with a statement from Adi Rukun.

Awards Daily: OK, let’s get back to how you and Adi Rukun met.

Joshua Oppenheimer: In 2001, 2002, I was helping to teach a group of plantation workers on the same oil plantation where Adi’s family lived. I was teaching them how to make a film about how to organize a union in the aftermath of a military dictatorship under which unions were illegal.

It was a Belgian-owned company, where they made the women spray the pesticides and the herbicides because they said it was easy and the women didn’t have any protective clothing. Women in their forties were dying from liver failure. The workers had confronted the company to ask for protective clothing, and the company met those demands by hiring paramilitary to threaten and attack the workers who dropped their demand. They explained that there had been a mass killing in 1965 and their parents and grandparents had been killed by the same paramilitary. I realized what was killing these women was not just poison but also fear. Continue reading…

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Deniz Gamze Erguven is one of only two female directors nominated for an Academy Award this year, the other is Liz Garbus for Whatever Happened, Miss Simone? Erguven’s film, Mustang, has received a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. Mustang almost didn’t happen after producers dropped out right before filming. However, Charles Gillibert stepped in and the coming of age film was made. I had a brief chat with Erguven about her Mustang journey and what it’s like to be a filmmaker in France.
Awards Daily: Congratulations on being nominated for Mustang, but the film almost didn’t happen — and now here you are.

Deniz Gamze Erguven: We went from a low to a high.

AD: On that high, how is the experience for you.

DGE: It’s a responsibility. The Foreign Language Oscar goes to a country, and you’ve been chosen by France where I feel like the adopted child. It means a lot to me. I want to be worthy of the trust we’ve been given. So there’s this emotional responsibility. When the nominations came out for me, the pressure was huge. I was relieved.

AD: How did Mustang happen?

DGE: It’s my second film project. I had worked long years on another film, and at the point when I started off I was hungry of everything, about working with actors and picking a film. I tried getting into production with a sense of urgency. Also the subject matter of the film was urgent. It was urgent in every possible way. It took longer than planned. I was hoping to shoot during the Summer of 2013. I had written it in Summer 2012, but the financing took longer than expected. We were ready to shoot by 2014. At that point the producer had completely dropped the film. We later found out it was under-financed and left for dead. We had three days to find another producer. I actually didn’t tell the girls about it.

I had also discovered I was pregnant the week before so it all felt dramatic at that point. Since then, it’s been one straight line. Aside from being postponed for four weeks, then it was a race. I wanted to finish before the baby came. I remember we didn’t even stop for Christmas. We were with the editor, alone in the office with piles of garbage. I was getting bigger and bigger. The baby was born, and we hadn’t finished, so I had my little koala sticking on me, and we went on in post production right until Cannes.

Mustang started running really fast once it was at Cannes. The French distributor released it early on, and we were doing a lot of press.

I was making jokes at the beginning of Cannes that we would show the film on Tuesday, do press on Wednesday, and be has-beens on Thursday. That Thursday never came, and we were doing endless press and it became bigger and we went from doing student magazines, the film was released and we did festivals, the film won lots of awards. Then it was released here and in Europe which meant more travel and more press right up to today, and here we are.

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Paco Delgado is a celebrated costume designer who has worked with Pedro Almodavar and Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables. He reunited with Hooper for The Danish Girl, which tells the true story of Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo transgender surgery.
Delgado received his second nomination for Best Costume design. I spoke to Delgado about the challenges of having to dress Eddie Redmanye both as a male and as a female, and discussed how he created the look of Lili and his partner Gerda.

Awards Daily: Congratulations on your second nomination. How does it feel to have your work celebrated like this?

Paco Delgado: I’m very very happy. It’s always a surprise because you never know what’s going to happen and you don’t expect it to happen. It was a very nice surprise and it’s fantastic.

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Henry Hughes has served two tours in Afghanistan. With a thousand stories to tell, Hughes decided to focus on the story of a female translator who is working with the U.S Military in Afghanistan.

I sat down to talk to Hughes who scored an Oscar nomination for Best Live Action Short, to talk about his choices behind the subject and find out what it’s like having George Lucas as a mentor.

Awards Daily: Before we even start talking about the film, you trained yourself in Afghanistan, like twice, right?

Henry Hughes: Yeah, I did two tours with the 173rd Airborne [Brigade Combat Team], which is like airborne infantry or paratroopers. I did two tours, I was an officer. That’s like the resume of it [laughs].

AD: Obviously with that kind of background you must have thousands of stories. What made you want to tell this particular story?

HH: You know, it’s hard to capture what it feels like to go to war, like in a movie or in a book. A part of the issue is that we kind of see the same story over and over again, which is my story. A young white man goes to war, very idealistic, and comes back and tries to figure out what to make of it all. Or doesn’t come back. I felt like we’re not getting anywhere new with this territory, we’re not illuminating things different. Then, when I met my interpreter, it didn’t hit me right away that I would make a story about her. We were just friends for a year and then I got out of the army and we kept calling each other and you start to realize that this person has a lot of inherent conflict and that she had to find her own way in the world. She is having to bridge two cultures and gender. No one is supporting her to go there, she had to do it on her own. Having that sort of integrity is the stuff of movies and the stuff of inspiration, I guess.

AD: How long did it take for you, from writing the script to directing and then getting it made. How long was that process?

HH: The script was kind of rushed into production actually because I was at the American Film Institute and this was my thesis film. We were going to make a different thesis about something else entirely, but we ended up losing the life rights. I had done an exercise in my year at AFI where you shoot like two or three days and you cut it together and it’s all like internal; you don’t show it to other people. It’s a way for us to practice our craft. I had done something [for that] with the character of my interpreter and I thought that if I have to do something very quickly, I can do this because I know this person and I know that world. We started writing the script around seven or eight weeks before production.

Henry Hughes winner of the Gold medal in the Narrative category for "Day One" attends the 42nd Student Academy Awards Ceremony at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater on Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Paul A. Hebert/Invision/AP)

AD: One thing that is so refreshing is that you tell it from her point of view. There are so many viewpoints you could have told it from. What was the decision behind that? 

HH: Certainly, and part of it is that I think the female point of view, in that environment, is far more interesting. My mother was in the army, for instance, and I grew up with my mom and two sisters, and much later we had a little brother. I grew up around a lot of women and you see things differently. The electronic voices for all the military equipment, like in a tank or in a cockpit or even Siri, it’s always a woman’s voice. It cuts through all of that stuff. It’s totally happened where I’ve had an interpreter who is a woman where you say something and you hear her say it back to you and there’s something about having the other gender say it that just tamps down, somewhat, that Lord of the Flies, boy’s club stuff. It gets closer to what the truth is, I think.

AD: There are two important scenes are so powerful. The first one is, obviously, the first scene and then the second is when she’s going to the toilet. What can you tell me about those two scenes?

HH: Sure, the toilet one is a combination of a few things that actually happened to us; one where she was using the restroom and we’re like out in the middle of a mission and her whole thing for a long time was like, “try not to use the bathroom while we’re out on mission.” But it was like five hours and you need to drink water and so, I remember, it just got to a point where she couldn’t take it anymore and said, “I have to go.” I was like, “I didn’t know you had been holding it in for weeks of missions, what are you doing, man, just go [laughs]! We’ll find a spot!” It made me think about how she had to hide that.

Then there was another event where we had gone out and found four IED roadside bombs and I knew there was more on the route because you could just tell. It was like we were still going that way, we haven’t seen this land for while, there is going to be more. But it was getting dark and so we realized that the next one would find us, so we stopped searching. We circled the wagon, fuck the night. So it was my turn and I was using the restroom and I saw this motorcyclist driving on the road that we were just on, he passed me, and then about 100 meters or so down the road he blew up. That was obviously a crazy and interesting feeling to sit with because I regret not saying anything. Why didn’t I think to? I was tired and it slipped my mind. It didn’t even occur to me to say, “Hey stop.” In the film, it somewhat comes across, not as well as I had hoped it would, that her stopping to pee stopped them from getting hit.

AD: That just gave me goosebumps! Something else I loved is the way it flows. There’s  a nice flow to the whole film. From the way you wrote it and envisioned it, there’s a final product on the screen; was that how you had envisioned it?

HH: Um, it’s hard for me to say. I was really trying to capture something that’s really hard to do and I can’t tell if maybe someone else can feel this or not. It’s after these sublime moments that are very particular to a conflict like this where you have things that are beautiful and things that are horrible and things that are both. Also, you don’t have the structure in how you view the world; this is now beyond that. You don’t have language to comprehend it. So, I feel that that was certainly a part of that and I wanted it to be a rush and somewhat of a roller-coaster of ups and downs. At the end, I can’t tell you what it was like to go to war. I haven’t figured that out yet and that’s what I’m trying. I can maybe take you on an emotional ride that’ll make you feel like how I felt. Over the course of a longer time, that’s certainly how I felt.

AD: How long have you been back now?

HH: Since 2011.

AD: Wow, that’s very recent.

HH: I suppose. I don’t know. It feels far away now [laughs].

AD: I have to ask, how does it feel to have the Oscar nomination?

HH: Sure, it’s unsettling [laughs]. All of a sudden there’s this thing other than you that people think you are, which is fine, except that’s not me. I got like weird with all that for a moment, I just tried to focus on how cool it’s going to be that my wife and I get to go to the Oscars.

AD: That’s incredible. And I read somewhere that George Lucas is your mentor!

HH: It’s totally right! He was very kind in volunteering to be a mentor for a veteran as a part of a veteran’s program called American Corporate Partner’s. I happened to get George because he saw some of my work; I assume other people submitted work. He’s just been incredibly supportive; I’ll show him my work and he’ll give me notes. Less on particular stuff and more about big picture, how you want to be a filmmaker, how you want to be an adult, how you want to be a husband, that kind of stuff. It’s cool. It’s interesting because obviously he’s this massive titan in the industry or iconoclast, but he’s also a  human. I appreciate that about him. He’s been very good to me.

AD: That’s so cool. How can we see Day One? I’ve had the honor of seeing it, but how can the public get to see the film?

HH: It’s in theaters presently, along with the other Oscar nominees. It’ll be out on iTunes and VOD and all that on demand stuff February 22nd or something. It’ll be on Amazon, iTunes, Verizon, and Google Play.

AD: That’s great!  What can we expect from you next?

HH: I definitely want to continue working in this area. It’s very integral to who I am and what I want to explore. I hope that I get to make a feature or series about this. I’m shopping around both ideas. Not for the same story, but for the same world. Something that we’ve really had a good look at is the way that we look at love or sex because of the sexual revolution. We haven’t had that kind of talk about what combat is for the modern day. Our stories and the way we look at it are kind of antiquated. I think we need to look at it from a new point of view.

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Leonardo Di Caprio won the SAG Award this past weekend for Best Actor in The Revenant. He’s tipped to march all the way to gold at the Oscars later this month. This weekend, the Directors Guild will hand out its prizes. The Revenant led the way when the Oscar nominations were announced with 12 including Best Picture, Best Costume Design, Best Actor, Team Innaritu/Lubezcki were nominated in their respective categories for Best Director and Best Cinematographer.

 

Catch up with conversations I’ve had with some of the nominees from The Revenant, and enjoy re-visiting Sasha’s review of the film

 
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Not only is Todd Haynes’ Carol a beautiful love story, its outfits are stunning ensembles, like characters in their own right. Sandy Powell has received an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design for Carol.  Powell is also a double nominee this year, as she has received a nomination for Best Costume Design for Cinderella as well. I sat down to talk to Sandy on how she created the look for the Carol and what it’s like being a double nominee.

Sandy Powell : This is so weird, this is the third interview I’ve done and it has all been with Brits.

Awards Daily: That’s so funny. I was looking forward to speaking to you because you’re a fellow Brit. Anyway, congratulations on being a double nominee.

SP: I know, it’s weird isn’t it? [Laughs] It was a thrill to get the nomination and then you hear it again. I’m not ungrateful, but it’s also a tricky one.

AD: And you’re dressing the same person.

SP: Yes! I know, but differently. Couldn’t be more different which is great.
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Joe Walker was nominated for editing 12 Years a Slave, working with fellow Brit Steve McQueen. He recently was nominated for an ACE award for his work on Sicario. I sat down to talk to Walker about his working relationship with Denis Villenueve and discussed more about his craft… and we talked about being Brits in LA, bonding over going to pub quiz.

Joe Walker : Hello!

Awards Daily : Hi, Joe! How are you doing?

JW: I’m very well! Everyone was saying, “oh you’ll love Jazz; she’s from Britain [laughs]!”

AD: I love that! Where are are you from in the UK?

JW: I’m from Ealing in West London. That was my stomping ground. Strangely enough, I live not a mile away from Steve McQueen, who is an Ealing-ite. They used to call it the Queen of the Suburbs.

AD: That’s so funny! I’m from south London in Tooting.

JW: I used to live in Balham, the Gateway to the South! How funny! My brother lives in Tooting.

AD: I know Balham.

JW: I got to tell you [Balham] was very grim when I was there in the ’80s.

AD: Oh my gosh, yes. It’s changed now. It’s become very posh [laughs].

JW: [laughs] It used to be if you wanted to find somebody to smash you car window to grab your glasses.

AD: Are you still living in London then?

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JW: No, I’ve got no real control over where I live these days. I’m renting a place in West Hollywood which is where my daughter lives.  I’ve got another daughter who’s at university back in the UK. I’m currently working in Montreal for six months with Denis; I’m working on an Amy Adams science fiction film. I’ve gotten used to living out of suitcases. It’s a bit bad [laughs]! I’m very engaged with what I’m dong at work so I’m really happy about it, but trying to control where I live these days. The next thing I do will probably be in Hungary. I’ve gotten used to packing light.

AD: You do get used to that! I mean, I’ve lived in West Hollywood now for just over a year and having gone back and forth in a long distance relationship. Finally moving, it was like “Okay, I’ve got to learn to pack.” It’s an interesting town.

JW: I was in Santa Monica and there’s a lot of British people there. I always sort of detected this slight feeling, it was like a shared look that said, “We know what it’s really like on the other side of the pond.” We’re all quite lucky to be over here and we better keep really quiet about it.

AD: There is a great community of Brits in LA and they have pub quiz every other Tuesday and it’s a lot of fun and a lot of them are Brits so it’s a good evening.

JW: I had a little bonding moment or two with Emily Blunt and one of the things we bonded over was the fact that we both went to the same pub quiz on the river. There’s a great place for Sunday lunch in Balham so we had a bit of a joke about that. That’s the strength of Emily Blunt, that you can talk about pub quizzes and then she turns around and she’s wearing a glittery dress and there’s a million cameras flashing and she’s oozing timeless Hollywood glamour. She’s an extraordinary girl, that one.

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Andrea Berloff and Jonathan Herman have received a Writer’s Guild nomination for Straight Outta Compton, the surprise hit of Summer 2015 that spans the rise and fall of N.W.A.

I had a catch up with the two to find out more about the appeal of the movie and how they had to rush a draft script in order to film in Los Angeles.

Awards Daily: Let’s start by talking about the genesis of the film and how it all began.

Andrew Berloff: I guess in 2009 or so New Line acquired the rights to the songs and they acquired a script as part of that. That was something of an Eazy-E story, and then when I was hired in 2010 the thought was trying to figure out how to tell the story of the whole band, N.W.A.

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Brie Larson has already collected more than major ten awards this season for her universally acclaimed performance in Room.  Almost every Oscar expert has Larson down to win the Oscar for Best Actress. Director Lenny Abrahamson says, “She’s lovely. She’s funny, warm, beautiful and a little boy is going to love her.” That’s just what you take away when you see Larson in Room, how much she loves co-star and on-screen son, Jacob Tremblay.

I caught up with Larson the day before the AFI Awards to talk about how she brought Ma to life, and how she physically trained for the role.
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In I Smile Back, Sarah Silverman plays Laney, a suburban wife and mother. She has everything; the perfect family, the perfect husband (Josh Charles), and a big house. But underneath, Laney is suffering from depression and addiction that sends her spiraling into a world of recklessness.
The film is based on the Amy Koppleman novel and Silverman was approached by Koppleman to play the lead character after hearing her on the Howard Stern Show.

In a departure from her comedy, Silverman took on the role. I sat down with her to talk about her latest role, and discussed the challenges of making the film during a bitter winter in New York.
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Brian d’Arcy James has quite a presence, dashing and charming, and lots of leading man talent. I first heard him sing alongside Idina Menzel on the cast recording of The Wild Party. He appeared in the Broadway productions of Shrek, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Titanic. He has just spent the last two hours tap dancing, singing and strutting his stuff on stage at the St. James Theater in the Tony Award winning Something Rotten. d’Arcy James plays Nick Bottom, a playwright desperate to write a hit play. It’s a complete tranformation from his role in Spotlight where he plays reporter Matt Carroll, one of the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe who exposes sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church.

d’Arcy James is having a whale of a time on Broadway, but he’s also enjoying talking about Spotlight and being a part of the movie.

I caught up with d’Arcy James just before Christmas, in between rehearsals for his Carnegie Hall show to find out how Broadway is treating him, but also to talk Spotlight.

AD: It’s such an honor to speak to you! I’m a huge fan! 

BJ: Oh, that’s very nice. Thank you!

AD: You’ve got Something Rotten! and you’ve got your Carnegie shows this weekend

BJ: Yeah, it’s a nice way to end the year with a little cherry on top with Carnegie Hall after a pretty extraordinary year.
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At the start of 2015, Leon Bridges was looking forward to going on tour with his new album, Coming Home. By the end of the year, Bridges would feature in the Oscar conversation as a potential contender in the Best Original Song Category. So Long is featured in the brand new Will Smith film, Concussion. I sat down to have a brief conversation with Leon Bridges to talk about the songwriting process and learn more about his influences.
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Badgers, horses, bears, hooded monks all served as inspiration for the costuming on Innaritu’s The Revenant. Costume designer Jacqueline West sat down with me to talk about how a trip to Italy inspired some of her unique designs for the film.

AD: The look in The Revenant is perfect. Talk to me about how you captured the look for that.

JW: It was a long process. It started with my very first conversation with Alejandro almost two years ago. I was in Italy and the first two images I sent to [him] he loved and when I got back to Los Angeles they were on his wall already. One was an Arikara hunter-trapper for the Arikaran Nation and it was a Bodmer painting and he had a hood on. There was something quite almost monastical about him and I think that really sang to Alejandro. The other image I sent him was an icon of a monk. Again, hooded and I think for Alejandro the idea of the spirituality and metaphysical idea that Glass was out in the wilderness for a different reason. It wasn’t monetary or mercenary like some of the other trappers, i.e. Fitzgerald. It was much more that he was looking for answers and he was looking for them in nature. His living with the Native Americans who have a whole different idea of animals and nature and he was guiding trappers that were actually trapping what the natives called Brother Beaver because they lived in such harmony with nature as they felt they lived it was the same harmony. You feel Glass feels all that and you feel that sympathy for a life that is crumbling and being eradicated and he has an almost St. Francis Assisi relationship with animals, you feel he’s in harmony and that he and animals are using each other to survive. Surviving together was the poetry of the bearskin on Glass, the thing that almost takes his life to protect it’s children then saves him in the end and that bearskin became like almost a symbol of man and animal both succumbing to the real victor which is nature always.

 
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Judy Becker has had a busy year. Her work can be seen in two films this season; Carol and now Joy. I sat down with Judy to talk about what inspired her when it came to creating the look of the film.

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Awards Daily :  Let’s talk about your key inspiration when you first read the script. What was your first inspiration when reading through it? 

Howard Shore:  Well, it’s a fantastic script, it really is. I was excited to work on it and to be a part of it. The discussions I started to have with Tom McCarthy were interesting because he was describing the story to me really in terms of themes and motifs and we were talking about ideas that were inherent in the script that could be used as inspiration for themes, like the pressure in the church. It was such an important part of the story and the things like legacy journalism, that type of insight into this type of journalistic investigation, Deference And Complicity was really important. It’s so much about what the story is about.

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