11 Feb 5 Questions with director Danae Elon
Director Danae Elon is already familiar with the trip to Kingston — she’s currently an MA student in the cultural studies department at Queen’s and travels between Kingston and her home in Montreal. She’s screened films at TIFF, Tribeca, Docs NYC, Berlin, Melbourne, RIDM, London Human Rights, Zurich and Geneva Human Rights and many more.
Her latest film A SISTER’S SONG will screen at KCFF on Thursday, February 28 at 5 pm.
By Ana Sofijanic
Q: What inspired you to film ‘A Sisters Song’?
A: I got inspired mainly because of the characters. I was making a film about a totally different subject in a Monastery in Greece, where there was a lot of time sit and talk to people. One day a beautiful young nun came to me and told me an emotional story about how she had come to the Monastery at a very young age. She then spoke about her family, and I gathered that there was a problem. It was one of those encounters that made me feel compelled to go on a journey with this woman to mediate her relationships and discover where it would take both of us.
Q: Tell me about some of the challenges you faced during the production of the film?
A: One of the biggest challenges was that I filmed and photographed the film entirely on my own because of the intimacy of the project. I had a lot to think about as the dramatic story was unfolding. Also, I was unable to look the at the material I captured with a kind eye. Until there was a rough cut with people reacting to it did I finally discover the film.
Q: You are an experienced filmmaker and have been in the industry since 1995. How would you say your style and approach to filmmaking has changed since then?
A: At the beginning of my career I stuck to a more traditional way of telling stories. I thought that stories were about an issue, and the issue had characters, and the characters had a point, and you had to make a conclusion about the situation. But very quickly I started making more personal films. I used my own life in order to talk about larger sociopolitical issues. Also, I have always tried to find the humour and irony in stories. The more established I got in my career, the more risks I took and the more comfortable I got in doing that. Today, I find that the more I make documentaries, the more I am seeking something else. I’m interested in the artistry of the documentary language and how we can challenge how we look at reality with the camera and the language of film. I am on a quest to look at documentaries outside of the market constraints, which brings me to show the unexpected. In fact, A Sister’s Song got a AIDC Award for Innovative Film precisely for that reason.
Q: After doing many successful years of film production, what has made you want to return to academia?
A: I wanted to spend some time and space to read about what I have been doing all these years. I’m currently working on some challenging projects that required me to do a lot of academic research and have made me question how I want to approach what I am doing. I would also really like to build the confidence to teach, to give people the same kind of desires that my teachers gave me, and to inspire young people whether they do filmmaking or not.
Q: What do you think about the film community in Kingston?
A: Kingston has a wonderful Film school and a great art center, but it’s only now that I’m discovering that there is a film scene and I’m very excited about it.