In a recent interview with ÉCU, the talented filmmaker David Jakubovic talks about his film The Forest Is Red, which won Best Non-European Feature at ÉCU – The European Independent Film Festival 2012.
Jakubovic grew up in Israel, but was born in New York City, where he now lives. The Forest Is Red is set in New York and exploits its surroundings with beautiful black and white shots of the city. A proclaimed fan of French New Wave, Jakubovic’s relatively recent exposure to Godard’s work had a sizeable impact on this film and how it dabbles in experimentation. This surreal tale focuses on the subjectivity of reality and how people try to find meaning in what they do – even in something as bizarre as burying jam in the park.
GG: So, tell me a bit about The Forest Is Red.
DJ: I think [the protagonist] Nathan’s character came out of my feelings about religious intensity in America, the cold society of New York and how someone who is outwardly strange deals with a society which does everything it can to try to appear “normal”. Nathan falls in love with this girl who is the semblance of normal – and yet she has so many concealed problems. This kind of pretence can really lead to loneliness and alienation.
GG: Do you think you’re trying to show this dislocation and alienation from society through Nathan’s split personality disorder?
DJ: I actually thought of his schizophrenia as a philosophical and existential thing, rather than as a medical thing. I think it’s good that Devin [the actor who plays Nathan] played up the clinical aspect, because the audience can understand that this guy is crazy and schizophrenic because he’s living in a crazy city.
GG: Did you have the audience in mind when you were filming?
DJ: We wanted people to be able to connect to this movie as a movie, and not just an art movie. We tried to make sure that the pacing was quick and the music was fun, so that the film wasn’t just slow and pensive all the time. Philosophically intense movies can be exhausting. I think if you’re going to experiment in film you need to give the audience enough to sink their teeth into – you’ve got to be accessible.
GG: Do you think film festivals are important?
DJ: Well, the ÉCU festival was my first time having my work play at a film festival and I loved it. It was great that everyone was there being exposed to experimentation and watching movies they wouldn’t see anywhere else.
GG: What advice would you give to other filmmakers?
DJ: It’s a cliché, but you’ve got to work really hard. You figure out what you’re doing and you just have to do it a lot, and not be afraid to fail miserably. I think one of the most important things is the facility for self-criticism. You have to be able to look at your work and hate it, and say why you hate it. A strong self-critique doesn’t mean that you have to be in a constant state of depression about your work. It’s more of a functional, practical kind of thing: you always have to improve.