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Filmmaker Interview with Tomer Shushan and Shira Hochman

Filmmaker Interview by Chris Olson

The global effects of COVID-19 have been a gut-punch to many industries and individuals alike. Hopes and dreams have been shattered and the film industry is no exception.

Legendary film festival SXSW (South by Southwest) was one of the first to announce it would be cancelling/postponing their 2020 event - many others have followed suit in the days since.

I caught up with one director whose film White Eye was due to feature at the 2020 SXSW film festival, along with their producer Shira Hochman

White Eye short film
White Eye short film

So, your film White Eye was due to screen at SXSW. How do you feel about the festival being cancelled?

Tomer: It is a sad moment for the festival, the artists, the audience and the city of Austin. Things escalated so fast with this Virus, and the uncertainty is what makes it so hard. I was really expecting the international premiere at SXSW. I was so happy to take part in this festival and felt that it's going to be a great match for the film. All we can do is hope that this scary period will end soon.

I’m trying to be positive and glad that the festival continues with juried film awards and sharing an online link to press, buyers and others.

How would you pitch your film to a new audience?

Shira: Omar ran into his stolen bicycle, tied to a metal pillar. He's trying to figure out who stole it. In one breath, a quick thought. Too quick. The ego dominates the soul. He cannot see the suffering and pain of his decisions. Only in retrospect, but it is too late.

Why did you want to tell this story?

Tomer: So far in my previous works I was trying to tell stories from my point of view regarding the topics that interested me. One of them was the African refugees, that became over the years this part of the society that most of the people prefer to stay away from. I tried to learn more about the see-through people that sacrifice their life for taking care of their families from far distance, knowing their chances to see them again are very low. And while this story actually happened to me I realized that it's so easy for me to criticize the society I'm coming from but in one panic moment I turned out to be horrible like it.

White Eye SXSW
White Eye SXSW

How come all my beliefs and my values turn to the exact opposite when my instinct takes over? What does it mean about us? Why do we like to divide people only because of where they came from?

This moment and the questions that showed up a moment after, made me want to tell this story.

Other than Coronavirus, what challenges have there been getting this film made?

Shira: The production itself was very exciting. Shooting ONE SHOT in one night is definitely thrilling. Kobi and I had to prepare for this night very well.

From the moment of the ACTION to the CUT we couldn’t breathe, we prayed with all our heart that there will be no interruption to the take, that this dance succeed, and everyone will do the choreography in symbiotic way, to reach the most accurate take. This in itself is a fascinating and exciting thing. A complete set of 50 people is breathtaking for 20 minutes in each take.

Why do you make movies?

Tomer: Since I chose to be a storyteller I have been asking myself this question quite often. The answer comes when I see another person react to the film.

There is some urge inside of me since I can remember to observe people, lights and sounds, create a story and reason for them being there at this time.

Films have to access people's hearts and for me there is nothing more exciting than expressing myself and making people miss a beat.

Who are your filmmaking influences?

Tomer: Filmmakers that have influence on me are the ones that make me feel like I would like to make others feel.

There are many but the ones that always go with me are the directors:

Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Roy Andersson, Chantal Akerman and Bela Tarr.

The composers: William Basinksi and Joanna Brouk and Moby.

These artists have a lot of impact on me as a person and as a storyteller.

What's next for you?

Tomer: I'm developing two projects these days.

The first one is my debut feature film, “Between the sacred and the secular”.

The film is about an unexpected love story that happens one night in a wedding celebration between a thirty years old waiter and a rich young woman, that comes from two different classes and carries them to a wild night journey of passion which raises a threat of existence.

The second one is a T.V series named “TORSO”. It is about Leon, a private investigator who was hired by the suspicious wife of a police detective. Instead of discovering the husband's unfaithfulness, Leon reveals his complex secret. Going deeper and deeper in the trace Leon gets the chance to save the life of innocent people.



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