Q&A with film director Miranda July
1) Tell us a bit about your film The Future which is
showing at this year's NZ International film Festival
It's about a couple who are about to adopt a dying cat and the revelations about time this provokes. And what they do, now that they know life is finite.
2) What does it mean to be part of a festival like this?
Well, it means one is sort of jealous of one's movie because it gets to go to places one can't. I've never been to New Zealand, but have a great fantasy life about it, which revolves around the idea that it's easier to be a filmmaker there, especially as a woman. This might not be true.
3) You've just finished in Sundance, got a nomination in
Berlin and are part of the circuit currently - what have been the
highlights of touring The Future?
My husband also has a movie out this year, Beginners, so the highlights have been the few times we've been at the same festival at the same time. We reunite after a day of press and scream and throw ourselves around the room.
4) What was the last Festival you attended? And was there anything which you saw which blew your mind (either good or bad)?
I was last at the Sydney Film Festival where I saw the Greek movie Attenberg. It blew my mind in a good way.
5) Has anyone ever suggested something about your film that you wish you had incorporated?
No. But everything I make is full of things that I wish I had done better. That's the feeling that usually propels me into the next work: THIS time I'll get it right.
6) Where did you get the idea for The Future from? And
for the cat to narrate parts of it?
When I was editing my first movie, a pretty hopeful movie, I was actually going through a terrible break up. I remember thinking: I want to get THIS feeling into a movie - this dark, cold feeling. So the first image was of someone stopping time in the midst of a breakup and then being stuck in this moment, terrified. The cat came into the story on his own, I watched a real stray cat get hit by a car and as I was burying him I was vowing to redeem him somehow. He really became the soul of the movie, the more honest and emotional counterpoint to the human characters.
7) There's quite a spiritual element to The Future for all the characters involved - was that deliberate?
Yes. When you're thinking about time and mortality, it seems important to really go all the way, consider not just life but what comes after, and what haunts us.
8) You're a performance artist by "trade" as it were - what was the hardest part of getting your vision for this film onto celluloid?
I've been making movies as long as I've been performing - I started out making short movies like most directors. That said, I think my performances taught me a lot about filmmaking too, they are very scripted and ambitious in scale, with a full score, lighting, and lots of complex technical details. My first movie was financed in part because one of the producers had seen me perform and knew that I was very comfortable with massive undertakings.
9) How would you describe the film to anyone who's thinking of seeing it?
Not much. Sometimes I mention that the score is by Jon Brion, because maybe that will convince them to see it. He did the score for Punch Drunk Love and Magnolia and is one of my favorite composers.
10) What do you want people to take from watching the film?
I hope they feel sad in a way that is very open - not a heavy depressing sadness, but the kind that gives you more room for things that are hard to talk about.