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BAFTA Film Sessions 2022: Directing

7 March 2022

Francine Stock in conversation with Aleem Khan, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, Audrey Diwan and Jane Campion

Francine Stock: Good afternoon everyone. I'm Francine Stock and welcome to the 2022 BAFTA Film Sessions. This is a hybrid series of fourteen sessions which celebrates the nominees from this year's EE British Academy Film Awards. And we're delighted to be joined today by four of this year's brilliant nominated directors.

Just a few little housekeeping bits and pieces before we start. If you want to join the conversation on social media, please use the hashtag #EEBAFTAs. There's going to be an opportunity also for you to ask your questions towards the end of the session. And if you're watching on YouTube or Facebook, please add them to the chat, for those questions with us here on Zoom then putting into the Q&A function at the bottom of the screen. Closed captions are available via the CC button on your screens and we also have Katie and Joe who are British Sign language interpreters during the course of conversation as well. So welcome to them. So to introduce the directors joining us today from with their nominated films are Aleem Khan, the writer, director of After Love, Ryûsuke Hamaguchi, who is writer director of Drive My Car, Audrey Diwan, who is the writer director of Happening and Jane Campion, writer, director of The Power of the Dog. So welcome to all of you. Uh, the format is that I'll be. I was speaking to each of you individually for a few minutes and then we'll have the sort of wider questions from everybody else afterwards.

Aleem if I can start with you and After Love, which is a project, I think that you have been nurturing for about a decade. And I believe it arises, there is an element of autobiography in this. It arises from something to do with your family. Is that right?

Aleem Khan: Well, the films not autobiographic in the sense that the journey that the character goes on is not from my life, but the central protagonist, Mary, was very closely modelled on my mum who is a white Muslim convert and she's been with my father since they were teenagers so there's yes, there's a semi autobiographic kind of element to the work.

FS: And over that ten year period did the film’s development change or is what we see now pretty much what you thought of back then?

AK: To be honest, actually, it took ten years to write the same film as I've ended up with. But uhm, I always. I think it just deepened. The layers just became more complex, more layered. But I I always knew what I was trying o explore through the work. And that was, that was many things. But I had quite a clear idea on what I wanted this character to kind of explore in terms of her identity, her connection to her faith, relationships and how we betray the people that were closest to, the strangers who can be closer to us than the people we live with, that will we live our lives with so yeah it just, uhm, it just deepened as I kind of was writing. I just got into this web and you know one door would lead to another and I just kind of just kept opening more and more doors.

FS: And you had this wonderful central performance from Joanna Scanlan and an extraordinary central character there. I'm interested in in the casting because I noted that she made the most amazing impression on me, at least as Charles Dickens’ wife in Ralph Fiennes’ film Invisible Woman, but aside from that, she had perhaps been more associated with kind of comedy roles before that. So at what point did you become interested in her for this?

AK: I was familiar with Joanna’s work, for her comedy work, but I had seen more of her film work actually. I knew that she was really known for her comedy and our casting director Shaheen Baig, when we were looking for talent, suggested her and I was immediately drawn to her because she had a physical resemblance to my mum and that was quite powerful for me. Uhm, in her in her height, in her size in her face. Joanna has incredibly powerful eyes that kind of reveal. And my mum has that, and so that was quite a superficial draw, but that that was quite powerful for me.

And I also just loved the idea that she had done a lot of comedy. I think comedy is a really clever way of concealing quite a deep, dark well and, and I thought there would be, there would be space to kind of explore deeper under the surface, and Joanna was incredibly open to that. And she's a very open book. She's very, yeah, she was very open with her life with me and it's funny. And she's spoken about it. She's known for her comedy, but she feels far more in tune with the kind of the more serious work that she's done, the dramatic work that she's done.

FS: And the whole use of the locations of this sort of Dover and Calais, and particularly the cliffs in Dover, which take on a kind of strange mythical, precarious nature that you feel that you're in a realistic, and then suddenly think, Oh no, I think I might be some or more sort of mythic or fantastical. What that was always there, was it from the beginning, that idea of the location?

AK: Yeah, I mean look, I always wanted to set the film between Dover and Calais and I think that was that was because I have a personal connection to Dover that my, you know, my grandparents lived there, and I used to holiday with my family in Calais. So I knew those locations very well. There was something about the mirroring of them and how the history that they have with this body of water. And that just seemed to speak to the essence of these two women. You know, from Mary’s kitchen, she can see the Channel. It's almost like she's seeing this woman in front of her her whole life, but not really seeing her, if that makes sense. And so there was something about that that was quite important to me, but the actual experience of being in those landscapes is really powerful. The sonic experience, especially the kind of the birds, the wind, the water, obviously, but also this kind of mechanical heartbeat that is in the soil. It's these ferries that constantly going back and forth. And it's like a rumble in the earth, but it's not. It's the engines. But it's like this kind of rumbling and there was something about that that I wanted to kind of internalise into Mary's kind of being and into her story.

FS: And this is something actually we might bring up with other directors as well, but language, the whole question of language and comprehension and how important was that?

AK: Yeah, it was important, I mean, I think the film is dealing with quite universal themes and ideas. It's dealing with grief and loss and family and grief as that kind of thing that there is no language needed, really. I think language is an interesting thing because it can include and exclude. And I grew up in a family where my father speaks Punjabi and my mum learned how to speak Punjabi so she could communicate with his family but his kids, we can only speak English. It was quite interesting being in family dynamics where we were trying to kind of… We always felt like me and my sisters always felt like we were outside of that circle and I guess you kind of learn how to communicate through kind of nonverbal forms and you get to pick up cues in a different way and I wanted that for the film. I wanted Mary to in this dynamic, although she can speak and communicate with Ahmed’s family when she's with his French family, it's how is she kind of communicating and creates a connection when she can't really understand what they're saying.

And it's also used in certain scenes to actually get the son Solomon to kind of manipulate the scene, take control of the scene, of the dynamic. I like how language can do that. How you can use it to really exclude characters or bring them in.

FS: And by the same token, we the audience, only know about the husband the father through these two sort of different prisms. I mean, we don't get, we barely get to see, we do just for a moment get to see him as it were in his own right. I mean what were you after there? What were you seeking to achieve there?

AK: I think when we lose people that we love, I think they can actually become more present in our lives, I think they kind of transpose into the things that they left behind, into their clothes, into their music, into the recipes that they've left for us. They become, sometimes they become a bigger part of our life. I think like you know I live in London and I have so many friends that live around me and I hardly see them. I see them a couple of times a year and I think there's something about that kind of access to people when you have that access readily, you don't take advantage of it. But when you've lost someone when you lose them all you want is to have that kind of final embrace or another kind of conversation. That kind of searching for the pieces of that person.

And I worked with a great editor called Garth C. Scales. He's a Canadian guy, but he lives in London and when we were in the edit, Ahmed actually had a, his character was a bit more expanded at the beginning of the film in the screenplay and what we shot, and in the edit, which I felt awful for the actor, but we really took him out in the first scene. I mean because the film is really about these two women and how they're operating in the shadow of this man that they've shared, and in a way that that opening shot of us not really ever seeing Ahmed as he's like, he's a silhouette in in the background, he just seemed more true to really what his essence represented in in the film. Yeah, so I've gone off on a tangent, but—

FS: No, no no. But I think I think that's that's really interesting because that's precisely what it does to us, as the audience is that we are seeking after him as well, because we never meet, we have no chance to have any sort of prejudge him in any way, because we only ever see him as that shadow presence.

AK: Yeah, and I think it's also like it's because it's about these two women they have different. They see different sides of this man, different perspectives, I mean and I wanted the audience and Gareth and I obviously, we wanted to put the audience into a space where they were, as Mary goes through the story, we're learning, we're seeing more layers of her kind of coming to the front and be discarded and she becomes this kind of cypher in this other family’s life. But we get to see the other sides of these characters, and we wanted Ahmed to be revealed through the snippets that these two women have interacted with, because we all have different layers to us. We all wear different masks and really, I think the film is looking at that question of who gets to see us? When, who you know, do we ever really? When are we ever completely, authentically ourselves? We're often walking through life kind of playing some version of something, so it's kind of speaking to that.

FS: Right, well look. Thank you for now. We'll be coming back with more questions. I'm sure just in a moment, but also thank you and congratulations, wonderful, a really moving film.

I'm now going to speak to Ryûsuke Hamaguchi and Kasue is going to translate for us but sort of in a sequential way. So thank you for that. Uh, so, my first question, I suppose is about adaptation, which is this is, Drive my Car is from a Murakami short story, and people sometimes say you know that some of the adaptations that are more straightforward are adaptations of perhaps not so good novels, or maybe you know it's very, very short, sort of minimal short stories. When you take a very well known writer, excellent writer like Murakami, does that throw up particular challenges? And what is your approach?

Ryûsuke Hamaguchi: Yeah, because Murakami is such a great author so that itself was a challenge. Huge challenge to be honest with you. It wasn't easy at all, but Murakami actually said that if anybody wants to turn his short stories into any sort of movies, they can, anybody can do anything on their own devices and he might have opinions too about his long stories, but for short stories he was actually quite fine. And so I had, I had freedom for that. I had my liberty. But instead of taking his words, I wanted to respect this world, the world that he described by his words, but not the words themselves. And so, and also I wanted to respect all these characters that he created, so I wanted to visualise his world rather than his exact words.

FS: Yeah, was there something then, in particular, was there kind of an essence of this story that you wanted to portray, you wanted to stick to most of all?

RH: What attracted me was these characters Kafuku and Misaki. Most of the conversations happen in a moving car, and you know, being in a car when you're driving or even not driving in a car is, it's an interesting situation. You sort of talk. You tend to be more personal, I think, than you would normally be. And these characters, they don't really talk much in a normal situation, and obviously you can see, say, a bit hesitant in the beginning, but they get to talk more as they drive along. And I'm really familiar with the situation myself and also I wanted to, really want to respect that so that, I just really want to describe that it takes a while to get them to talk, get them to get talking, but once they talk, they talk. So that's why it took about ninety minutes for them to start proper conversation as you can see.

FS: So it's like a sort of a. It's like a therapist couch really, in some ways, isn't it that you have a limited time, you have the journey and you have the discipline of knowing everybody looking ahead at the same thing. Does that allow for freedom of expression?

RH: Yes, absolutely. So you've got this limited time. You have to get from A to B so you have to finish the conversation and so you're talking about something that really matters to you, but you've got limited time, so you want it, you want to communicate. And so, yeah, that's not... I think that's really important, and also that sort of the time limit, limited time makes it more makes the conversation itself much deeper and concentrated.

FS: You feature the rehearsal periods for the production of Uncle Vanya, in which the cast go through their lines but the director asked them to be devoid of any emotion, stripped of any emotion when they do that. It's simply a line read. Is that a technique that you have yourself employed?

RH: Uhm, yes, but not exactly, but fundamentally yes. I mean repeated reading without emotions wouldn't necessarily make acting better, but however, I'm having a table read like this and I believe that some actors and words can familiarise with each other, if that makes sense.

FS: So the words become so familiar you don't need to think about how you're going to interpret them until the moment of performance.

RH: Yes, because some words can mean one word can mean various things and so you don't really want this set precise meaning at the table read stage because that would make everything flat. I think so, and I think I believe acting has to be more, acting has to be more spontaneous, so bring out that spontaneity. You need to be familiarised with these words and I think that would create more synergy and that's why I do this.

FS: And are there other ways in which your background in in theatre and improvisational theatre is feeding through into your directing work than film?

RH: Actually, there's a misunderstanding there. Uhm, when I made the film called Happy Hour, I had a workshop called Improv, but I actually don't have a theatre background to be honest with you! So I actually had to bring professionals to come in for this movie for the theatre scenes. But I don't have any theatre background or experience at all myself.

FS: But and yet clearly, you're very interested by it. So what is the fascination?

RH: Yes, I am interested in acting itself and obviously acting in theatre, acting in movies they're two different things, but there's always a magic, magic of acting.  And so when you're looking at an actor playing their character, it's always believable, isn't it? It's a world of make believe, but you believe that the character is real somehow. But as a filmmaker, you have to create that. We have to make that happen. We don't know when that can happen but we have to capture it. We have to capture the moments when it happens and that would create the story. And so, how? I think how is more the question. How to capture it, when to capture it as a filmmaker?

FS: Well, thank you very much Ryûsuke, that’s it for now. And Audrey, if I can bring you in here to talk about your film Happening, I was really struck, and this is an adaptation of a novel. But I was really struck when I was watching it that I forgot almost within minutes that this was not set… I mean I didn't feel it was a film of the 1960s, it seemed to me that it was, it had so much to say that was still contemporary as well, and I wondered if it felt like a challenge to you know to be doing as it were, a period film set in the early ‘60s?

Audrey Diwan: I wasn't interested at all in making a period piece because I strongly believe that, OK, the feelings I had while reading the book, Annie Ernaux’s book which I adapted I could feel the instance, the minute after minute where it was to be that girl trying to find a way to get an illegal abortion. I tried to make the movie be an experience that could be seen and worked, not regarding the period, not regarding the gender also, you know, and that was my main question. Can we be this girl and no matter if we are a man or woman, you know? And no matter if it's the 60s or today, and unfortunately I know that it is also today, you know.

FS: Well, well, that's right. I mean, I suppose that the whole question of reproductive rights, which one would assume, do you know, sixty years ago that that was being that that was an issue, but one had assumed that maybe forty years ago that was at least resolved, but it doesn't seem to be. It seems to be as much a live issue in certain countries now anyway now.

AD: Yeah, and you know, while talking with Annie Ernaux, I realised that she was trying to get to her exact memories, you know. And I wanted to do something that could be that could actually give the audience the same feeling, but not in the same place. I wanted to give the exact feeling of what it is to be that girl. So to hear her breathing, to move with her, and we made a huge work with the DP, with Laurent Tangy because he had to follow Anamaria Vartolomei, my comedian as if they were one and one only person. So it was almost something like dancing, you know, to have them moving together and I could, and I don't catch that much so you know, we have to rehearse a lot in the morning and then jump into the void, you know, and see what's happening.

FS: Yeah, I was going to ask you that because sometimes we're sort of, you know, on her shoulder, the nape of her neck, as it were following her a bit as one might think says, for example, the Dardenne brothers might do that. That idea of being very close to it, but it's also it's a combination of things isn’t it and sound as well.

AD: Uh, yeah, like how do you play with all, with the hearing, with the skin, with the movement but also with the frame, you know? And it was very important for me, because when I read the book, I had the feeling that I was reading some kind of an intimate thriller. I mean, if I replace my experience because I read the book shortly after getting medicalize abortion. What I felt is that the very most important difference in between medicalized abortion and illegal abortion was that when a woman goes to illegal she always, she relies on only one thing. It's random. And I couldn't accept the idea. I think it's unbearable. And first of all, I could feel this huge rage while reading because I was thinking how can it happen that women have to rely on that random, you know? Or are they gonna meet someone who's gonna help, or turn them to the police? Are they gonna end to hospital, survive or whatever? And so I will try… how it is to be a girl walking to the unknown, you know? And the frame helped me a lot doing that because it's a nearly square frame and so you don't see people coming into the this frame. People just appear. So she's trying not to be seen, and the more she's pregnant, the more she needs to hide and I felt her tension in her body because somebody, the people appears on screen and we are in the same feelings as she is you know. So I Had to use every, it's not tricks, that’s not the right word, but every method that I could find to be her and give the audience the feeling that we are all this girl.

FS: And in terms of when you say it's not a period film and yet there's also it has to be plausibly of that time as well, doesn't it? So so were there discussions that you find--

AD: I'm sorry, but—

FS: It has to be believably of that time as well, doesn't it? You have to think you have to know that it is the 1960s at one level. So were there any discussions you've had with your cast who had to sort of put behind the many twenty-first century notions or?

AD: not that much? I mean we really worked on the language and only at one exact precise thing is that you need not to talk too fast because you know back in the days, you don't have Internet, so maybe the music of the language is a bit slower, so that was a way to, you know think about the time, but don't have it in mind all the time, because then the actor can't play and I really didn't want them to be in the language, in the ideas of the ‘60s. I wanted them all to be in their bodies, you know, and to feel it to be in their eyes and how the body behaves and what it is to be tired because it's not only a story about illegal abortion, but it's also a movie about desire and what it is to have desire and not being allowed, to you know to have a sex relationship. And what is it to be in those special years, but it still exists when you know they are dancing together, there are those young people and they can actually feel their skin, but they are not allowed to. So I really not wanted to only show the pain and the loneliness that goes with that particular topic, but also all the desire that we feel while being young you know.

FS: We obviously just heard from Ryûsuke about adaptation. Did you stick very close and read the novel? Did you stick closely to it?

AD: I was not too far, but I was lucky to be working with Annie Ernaux. So she told me from the very beginning that she was not going to try to have the screenplay be close to the book, but she always told me if I wasn't right regarding to the period, way of thinking, way of talking should help me. So I knew that she would keep me in the right track somehow in the right path so and we talked a lot about the experience and how to make these feelings be alive, you know?

And also I told her from the very beginning that I would use very long shots. You know, I don't cut much and this was important to her because it also means that we will, you will feel that what she feels. You know, and when I say she's suffers, I can actually ask my comedian to show this suffering and it's gonna take 2 seconds. But if you, if she keeps this suffering for a while and it's not easy for the actress, then people will start feeling what she feels. But if you stay too long then you become provocation and you're being shocking for no reason, because really, really, it’s shockingly shocking enough. So it was always a matter of the right lengths of every shot.

FS: And that was something that you could tell in camera or was there, I mean, was there a lot of fine balancing in the edit?

AD: Uh, no on set. We were thinking about it each time on set because as I don't cut that much I can't edit too much and so I have to stay in her mind and we also worked a lot on silence. You know silence as a material and Anamaria Vartolomei, the comedian and I we wrote internal monologues, so each time she's silent she tries to give an idea to the audience and she's obsessed with an idea. And as she's lonely, she's silent and I needed to use that silence to make the audience be close to the character.

FS: So she actually memorised internal monologues. One of the things I love about this film is that it doesn't, it doesn't ever give you too much information. It never gives you too much motivation or -- it's great for that point of view, it allows you just to see her experience and I think that was it, was there ever any pressure from anybody to say only you have to explain a bit more what she feels or why she's doing this?

AD: Maybe that was, but I'm a bit stubborn I guess. And uh, no, but you have to take risk, I mean, I'm happy because my producers and they believe in something that I believe to. You know you have to jump in there into the void and and see what's happening. So the most complicated sequences we never rehearsed them in order to just see what's happening, you know when you when we're on set, when we have to find it, even if we make mistakes, even we if we're scared and I love all those feelings. I think I think that directing needs that risk. So it was as simple as my producers. Of course, it's very silent and we don't explain much, but we have to strongly believe that at some point people will get her, who she is, how she felt.

FS: Yeah, no, I think you absolutely did and I have to say that, uh, a number of men I know who have seen it have talked so much about the film and have felt so closely identified with that character. So I think you absolutely succeeded there. Anyway, Audrey thank you very much indeed, for now, but I'm sure we'll be coming back.

Jane, if I can move on to you now and The Power of the Dog which Thomas Savage’s story was, is this what we're seeing? Is this essentially the same thing? Or have you added a particular Jane Campion, dynamic to the story?

Jane Campion: Well, I think when you do adaptation it is important to find something that you feel you can grow into, that you can be part of that you're going to like for example, stand on the shoulders of the author, the original author whose work I love, and be able to see something that he couldn't see. I think it is really important to add something to give it, to bring your own vision as an artist into the work. And also to re-see it in a completely different medium. You know, like we've got sound, we've got music, visual image, it’s powerful and so completely different, and I'm taking away in the meantime, Thomas Savage’s amazing capacity for eye of God and seeing right into the minds of all the characters. So it is a complex translation and, for me it's always about like you know, I fall intensely in love with see with the original work. There's something in it that that makes me, well feel somewhat haunted by the potential of it. Uhm, thinking about it, you know the themes keep just popping up for me because as everybody here knows these projects take a really long time to be realised and you know you want to be in the mystery of it. You want to be, yeah, full of it. Or you you know? Or I think if you, if you're tired of it or whatever, that would show. So yeah, I think it's definitely, totally important to feel that there's some way in which you can enrich the project or hope to, you know. And also you know if you feel nervous about that. I felt nervous about, you know, telling a story in what I think is the heartland of America you know which is the 1925, the West, where so much of the mythology of America is borne.

FS: Well and quite and it it's you know that that sense of ownership, as it were, that that there is that you are you are you treading on turn out. I mean not only you also actually physically transported it to New Zealand, which again, it's—

JC: Pretty funny.

FS: I want to go back with that, to that thing that you said about falling in love with the project. So I wonder how does it manifest itself the this this infatuation or this this love to start with? Is it visual? Can you start to see it or is it just much more about mood?

JC: Well in my case how I experience it is that it's like my psyche has somehow become fascinated and I can't stop. Just thoughts coming up to me about it. And I start to realise that there's a lot of meat in there for me. There's some mystery in there that even I may not really know completely why I'm so transfixed by it, but the act of being involved in the project is gonna help, in a way, discover it, yeah, so it's not really a calculated thinking, it's just before you know where you are, you're involved, you know you're thinking about it, and there's a sort of actually a reluctance because you're going like ‘Oh no here we go.’ You know this is gonna be three years or four years or whatever, but you know, I mean, you know I'm not new to the scene so I know what it takes and I know how long the involvement is, but there's also a beautiful feeling when you feel you know, yes, you know this is a relationship with the work, with Savage’s work, that I'm excited for and I think in his case, you know the work and you know, is highly autobiographical, not in the way that Annie Ernaux’s writing is, which is such an extraordinary memoir. I talked to Audrey before about having read The Years, which I just loved. But it is autobiographical, and he's then fictionalised into. I think what is actually a very clever narrative. Yeah, I don't know if I'm answering the question or just raving.

FS: But it, but in terms of actually writing that adaptation, did you have anybody in mind? Do you do you think about actors or types of actors or is it purely from what's been on the on the page of the novel?

JC: Well, the character of Phil Burbank, which I suppose is the main portrait of the film or the story, and I often think films really are portraiture in in many ways, was so well done by Thomas Savage, you know he really did create Phil Burbank there as such a charismatic, difficult, strange, haunted man. You know that I can't really think of another American novel with such an interesting protagonist, so I was just really transfixed with trying to feel this this man and I, I guess I felt like on both sides of it, you know, like he's a terrible bully and you know, not that I’ve been a terrible bully, but I certainly have experienced bullies. You know, as a woman and trying to get around and being afraid of being put down, you know, so I was really… I wasn't really thinking of the actor at that stage, and you know, I think some people think that if you're the director and you're writing as well that you're going to be seeing this, you know, the film come out as if it was a film, but actually I see everything in a kind of 360 degree way and feel it like I'm actually in the scene and then I have to figure out how to translate that for, you know, yeah, two dimensional plane, you know?

FS: Yeah, and also I mean you have this amazing range from beautiful, beautiful exteriors and landscape. But I mean, really, really deeply felt landscape as it were, landscape that is, that is a character in itself. And then also these, sometimes quite oppressive interiors as well. Working with amazing DOP Aaron Wegner, did you talk to her from really early on?

JC: Well, Ari’s, you know she's got a very poetic I anyway, and I love her because she's a real seer of light. She loves it, but at the same time she's very grounded in text and so we became like, you know, older sister, younger sister or I always call her twelve years old because she's to me seems so young and so bold and brave. Uhm, but yeah, I think it was very helpful for me and her to have this long time together. It was kind of like let's try and create the best situation for ourselves to do the story justice. Uhm, you know films take, cost a lot of money to make and why not try and do it as well as possible? Give ourselves a time. We had the time and you know and so you're not at least blaming that as the reason why you fail if you fail.

But even with all the time in the world, I think what we discovered was that we kind of created the marinade for our thinking, and we created us, we educated our intuition together about what should happen on the day because you never really want to take away the impulses that you have when you see the actors performances. You know as Audrey was talking about when you, you know you want to give that space to the moment you know as it appears and hope like hell that you are thinking on your feet you know? I guess that's my greatest fear really that I'm not going to be fast enough 'cause I'm one of those people that you know maybe a day later, think of a great thing to have replied.

So I think you know a lot of rehearsal of your thoughts and imagining of the scenes and you know you're always having positions to sit back and if it you know if something doesn't appear better on the day, like a lot of drawing of the scenes etc. It really did put us in the best situation we could have and yet still leave an enormous amount up to the moment.

FS: Because actually I was talking about landscape and then interiors, but of course there is something which I think must have been quite in the moment, those extraordinary sequences which are, you know, Phil’s kind of very private dreamlike moments where everything and that is that we are literally kind of lifted into another dimension really almost there. So can you just tell us a little bit about that.

JC: Yeah, I you know there's not very much I can tell you because I also was in the dream and thinking back on it, I feel like you know it was, most of those situations there was just, you know, as few people in this space as possible, sometimes even just Aria myself and Ben and it was just kind of exciting to feel how Ari and Ben felt into each other or locked into each other. And you know, maybe I'd just whisper like Can you do that again, you know, like, try not to break the spell of the mood that Ben had found for himself. And just, you know, kind of marvelling at how Ari could seem to anticipate what he was going to do. And we didn't know what he was going to do, these were not rehearsed moments, so it's a kind of a moment in cinema, which I think I'll remember my whole life because they don't happen that often and you know, it's nice to be able to achieve a plan, but it's something so much more magical when real life exceeds your expectation. You know, like for example, when nature itself seems to collude and you've got you know, leaves fluttering down and is not sort of someone from the Greens Department throwing leaves in, you know that just actually happened. So I walked away that day, thinking Oh my God, I'm never going to forget this. There was a few other moments in my film history that I felt that about, but not so many you know.

FS: Well, I mean, and that's what's so great we've got today, we've got you know you with this great body of work already, and we've got a first time director too with Aleem, and I just wondered, do you keep on being surprised, though?. I mean there's something like that, that will happen as you work. You're always discovering something new for you.

JC: I think that's why I do it really because of the joy of discovery and that things may happen because you're working with extraordinary actors like Benedict who you intend to set free. They're going to do things you have no idea what they can be, but with the friendship that you've created with them and the trust, that there is an opportunity for spontaneity that you that is something I could never actually have managed as a first-time filmmaker. I wanted more control and now, you know, as I guess grown up, question, I yearn to be surprised, really, you know, and can accept a lot more suggestions and help from other people. I mean, nevertheless, you know, seeing Audrey’s work and Ryûsuke’s, sorry Aleem I'm yet to see yours. I'm absolutely stunned by what they do, you know? Like I love first time work because there's a sort of sense of the innocent exploration of film in ways that we've never we've never seen before. And their films they're amazing. So yeah, I think they're very powerful for that reason, and, you know, because both of them, all three of them, by the sounds of it, have you know felt what they wanted to do really deeply, you know.

Just speaking to Audrey’s film. I mean it's it so devastatingly lonely. It was absolutely riveted by the story and the intensity of it, you know, that she created by those bold few choices that she made at the beginning. You know it's so incredible.

FS: Thanks very much indeed. Well, actually this is a good point at which to bring back in Aleem with a question. Now that we've had and… Also, just to remind people you can put any questions in the Q&A. Aleem, an anonymous question as saying they loved your film and it's marvellous mix of poetic magic and human reality, but wondered why you felt the need to tie a bow at the end rather than leave us with a more open ambiguity. I'm not sure I agree with this question I have to say about how things between them might evolve. Did you feel that you needed to kind of give us some pointer towards the end?

AK: I didn't think I did do that for myself, but uhm, I wanted these characters to… What I did want for the characters was for there to be, how do I articulate it? There's more to their story, that there's this kind of new family triangle, this new dynamic that has been created ironically through the death of this man, that all these characters shared. And his death in a way kind of gave these characters the thing that they wanted in their life. Uhm, but it's very messy. It's very. It's not. It's not even bittersweet. For me, it's like life, you know it's we're wounded as we walk through life and we just we carry those wounds on our body and in ourselves. But we get by and I think these characters see I think what they see is that they understand their places in the tapestry of this shared experience they've had, but it's certainly not tied up. If anything, it's completely open, and for me it's important for the audience to decide for themselves where it then goes. But thank you for watching the film.

FS: A question from Camilla Stefani, who wonders if any of you, and this is for anybody to answer, if any of you have included scenes in your films that actually when it came to it, ended up very, very different from what you'd originally envisaged. But they also worked? Anybody have an example of that? Nobody has an example, OK?

AK: I already said, you know, Ahmed was far more expanded in in the screenplay but we really reduced that so I've spoken on that.

FS: I mean, there's, another question also from Samuel Building, who's wondering whether there was sort of whether any of you, I mean, Aleem, we could maybe keep you to one side for this because it's whether the directors who have several belt films under their belt, but if there are early rookie mistakes they remember doing on their on their debut film? Things that they would just never do again.

AD: Sorry, are these things we would never do again?

FS: Well, you know mistakes that you made in in your first film, things that you really learned from in your first film.

AD: Right, OK, I mean in my first film I remember that I planned too many too many things. So many things were already planned that I did the movie before I did the movie. And I was so disappointed to figure out that at the end the movie was exactly what I expected and nothing else and nothing else.

This means there's more work and I will always remember when I so Bong Joon-Ho’s Parasite movie. The sentence I will always remember is that the only plan that always succeeds--Sorry my English is so bad--is the one that is not met.

And I always remember that sentence. And of course, I had it in mind when he gave me the Golden Lion because like really, for some reason, we should never make plans. But yes, that that would be the one thing that I will always remember. Never try to know what's going to happen exactly because you have to follow different ways, and to be surprised.

FS: Yeah, that's great. Also your English. It's also very good so please. Jane I think you wanted to say something.

JC: I’m answering to the first question, like did you end up doing one scene very, very differently? Well, actually I do remember I did the very last scene in the film when Peter is in the bedroom alone and he has the rope that Phil made for him and puts it under the bed, actually and the script it was going to be that he went back to making his paper flowers and he made a paper rose for his mother. But during the making of the film, I started to notice that you know, even in rehearsal that Benedict and Kodi had an impact on each other, that was actually more complicated than the book, meaning they really enjoyed each other. As you know, Peter and Phil that somehow each other’s strangeness had a companionable aspect and even Phil’s kind of attention for Peter made him grow and glow, you know, as a young man that he had been seen and preferenced. And I think, therefore, that the rope became a sort of better symbol for that relationship the boat that had been made as a gift, as a present, that you know really memorialised their friendship. Their complicated friendship and also was the murder weapon. And it seemed to me, you know, there's something I actually thought about during the pandemics we had that break. And suddenly we thought, like, yes, that is what should be there and when then I had the idea that he should kind of hide it under the bed because it was also an erotic object in a way, you know, and that in a way, in the end Peter then had this… Peter had kind of created his own Bronco Henry in Phil, and that’s someone he could safely, maybe erotically, remember for his life.

FS: Yeah, and so it goes on, no, I, I thought that's really, yeah.

JC: But I didn't get that during the writing. I didn't get it till the pandemic, until I started, you know, I saw what the editor had put together, Peter Sciberras, of what we'd shot of the exteriors, and that that's when I thought about it.

FS: And actually, Jane, there's just one from Samuel Dawes. There's a question about the fact that The Power of the Dog has a surprising amount of invisible they say VFX work and I just wondered how you felt about working with that, whether you've done that much before?

JC: Yeah, I have done a bit of visual effects, but you know, yes obviously not of the Marvel variety, but yeah, I worked with a great guy who was very thoughtful and creative and the big challenge for us was actually working out how to make the dog on the hill. I thought it was going to become obvious when I, you know, went to Montana and actually the ranch where Tom Savage grew up. And you know, I would see somewhere or other, some arrangement of rocks or something that would have been, you know, the dog. And when I asked him about, I said where's the dog and they said, oh there's no dog we, we figured he just made it up but I was like, Oh my God, Oh my God this is gonna be harder to figure it out.

So we're watching the hills and I'm quite familiar with these hills. You know I’m from New Zealand and my parents actually had a farm near another group of hills like this, and there's a lot of shadows that you know from the clouds that move across the hills and we stand, you know, and Jay Hawkins, the guy, who did the CGI for us and I were looking at and we started to say, you know it's gotta in those, in the shadows, don't you think? Something that's kind of ephemeral that comes and goes. And it can just be seen for a moment, maybe at a certain time of day, that it remains kind of suitably mysterious and then within a few days he came back with a sort of version of it as a still and you know that was such a relief to see that that it could be done. And then from there on you know we kind of just perfected it as best we could. So I totally enjoyed working with him and you know, creating the town of Beech. We actually only had one building and everything was hinged around that. Possibly we could have had even less, you know we could have just had the front door, but you know it becomes very difficult for actors you know. If they don't have anything there and there's always a decision about how much you're going to make real and how much you know you could successfully do in CGI, or you know or digitally later and we did put on the last story of the house, which is the third story, but everything else was actually, their interiors were done on a stage in Auckland, but also some of them repeated actually on location so that we could do some inside outside. Like the cowboy’s kitchens there and the barn of course was completely there and the stockyards was also there, but we had a mechanical cow, uh, a digital mechanical cow that we could make, move and walk and run and eat and do whatever and you know we only had about seventy-five, maybe 100 cows and then multiplied them, multiplied and multiplied them every time we had to get around.

FS: Yeah, maybe the future of farming, you never know. You could be on to something there. Well, sadly, I think we are just about out of time and we'll see if I can very quickly, uhm, OK, I'll give one more work from Daisy Lee Kavov, which is for Ryûsuke, which is about how can you direct actors who speak so many different languages in the film, including sign language, and did a--Could they like the characters not necessarily communicate directly?

RH: We had actually, we had interpreters to be honest, but what I was looking at was the actual acting so how they move and what the voice is like so they can.. They are actors at the end of the day, so they can convey their emotions, so I didn't really see any problems at all with that, so I had to focus on the actual acting rather than the words they speak. But obviously I think we need more interpreters for day-to-day communications. Like would you like a cup of tea for example.

FS: Yeah, OK, well on that note I were sadly out of time, but I really want to thank all of you, to thank Ryûsuke and Kasue, to Audrey and Aleem and of course to Jane as well. Thank you very much indeed for your contributions this evening. And congratulations all of you too on your nominations.

Yeah, well, everybody else we can check out check out online and the BAFTA social channels for more information on what's coming up next in these 2022 BAFTA Film Sessions. And last but not least, don't forget to tune into the 2022 EE British Academy Awards on Sunday the 13th of March at 7:00 PM on BBC One, which will be hosted course by Rebel Wilson. But in the meantime, thank you to everybody this evening and goodbye.

AD: Bye bye thank you so much for coming.

AK: Thank you very much.

JC: Bye bye everybody.