EDA Awards @ IDFA 2016 Filmmaker Interview: Jacqueline Zünd on ALMOST THERE

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zund Swiss filmmaker Jacqueline Zund follows three men who search for meaning and seek dignity as they approach the autumn of their lives. In America, a retired man trades in his staid and stationery life style to seek the adventures of a solo road trip across the country. At the same time, in Benidorm, Spain, a British drag queen past his prime finds validation and takes pleasure in pleasing appreciative audiences, and in Japan, a senior citizen finds fulfillment in reading books to children, especially when he’s praised by their teacher. Their stories are interwoven to create a moving compilation of how individuals deal with aging.

Jacqueline Zünd hails from Zurich, Switzerland. She studied journalism at Ringier Journalistenschule and film at London International Film School. Her first feature documentary, Goodnight Nobody (2010), screened at DOK Leipzig, Cannes, Visions du Réel, Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Montréal and other important film festivals. picking up a grand jury award, plus plus awards for cinematography, best score, best newcomer. She has been freelancing as a director since 1988. Almost There is her second documentary feature.

AWFJ: How and why did you encounter and commit to the subject/theme of your film and the main characters in it?

Jacqueline Zund: The beginning of the fascination for my subject was a photograph in an exhibition. The image showed a beach full of old folks, in the background a grotesque line of skyscrapers from the 60ies. A ghetto for pensioner, fascinating and hideous at the same time. It was Benidorm. I had to think about Houellebecqs subversive idea, that we should hide the old so we’re not constantly reminded of our transcience.

I decided to visit that place, where I saw my self confronted with the question: Where you find meaning and happiness, once everything is said and done?

I wanted to focus on men only. Because I think they’re more fragile in this matter. So I started to look for stories and characters. A long journey began.

AWFJ: What did you learn about the subject/theme from making the film?

JZ: To head for the place you’re most afraid of is the most efficient way to get rid of your fear.

What did you learn about filmmaking from making the film?

I learnt that it needs a lot of patience.

AWFJ: What were your biggest challenges?

JZ: The biggest challenges were to keep my protagonists interested during the long financing period. Bob for example, my american protagonist who swaped his safe home for a campervan, was suddenly very unhappy with this lifestyle. But he wanted to be part of the film, so he hung on. That was an intense year of writing e-mails and staying in contact.

AWFJ: Do you think that being female gave you a distinct perspective and/or way of handling the filmmaking process?

JZ: Yes.

AWFJ: What are your plans for the future?

JZ: My new film project «2,8 days» tells about the life of divided kids. (kids of seperated parents who live in two different worlds)

AWFJ: Who are the Filmmakers whose work has inspired/influenced your own?
JZ: There are so many good filmmakers who inspire me every day.

AWFJ: What advice do you have for other female Filmmakers who are trying to make their way through a still male-dominated industry?

JZ: I think doubts are an important part of creativity. But a lot of men can’t deal with this and consider them as weakness. I learnt to communicate my doubts in another way, so they don’t have to get nervous about it.

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