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Jewish Journal

AUGUST plays Outfest July 10

by Kalil Cohen

July 6, 2011 | 4:31 pm

Outfest: The 29th Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Film Festival starts this Thursday night with the Opening Night Gala film GUN HILL ROAD, starring Esai Morales, Judy Reyes, and newcomer Harmony Santana.  To find out more or buy tickets, visit www.outfest.org.

With over 150 films at 7 venues across Los Angeles, there is something for every audience.  Among this wide variety of films are several films by Jewish filmmakers, some of which I profiled last month here:
http://www.jewishjournal.com/oy_gay/item/jewish_films_at_outfest_2011_20110616/.

Among these is AUGUST, a beautifully shot film set in Los Angeles and centers on two ex-lovers whose passions are reignited when one moves back to Los Angeles while the other is in a long-term committed relationship. With a non-linear and interwoven narrative, this film is much more than a simple love triangle.  Major themes of the film are regret and desire, and the challenge of breaking habitual cycles. I recently caught up with Eldar Rapaport, Israeli-American filmmaker of AUGUST. Eldar is being featured at Outfest as one of the “Four in Focus” filmmakers presenting their feature film debuts.  I recently had the opportunity to preview AUGUST, and to find out more about the filmmaking process.

You can see AUGUST on July 10th at 9:45pm at the Director’s Guild of America, 7920 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, 90046
(between Crescent Heights and Fairfax)
There is free parking in the DGA parking lot located just south of Sunset on Hayworth Ave.

You can buy tickets here: http://www.outfest.org/tixSYS/2011/filmguide/films/3308


Have you made films in Israel as well as in the United States? If so, does your experience of making movies differ between the two countries?
I actually have never shot a film in Israel. I have worked on productions, but never directed.  My impression is that it’s easier there for the independents in the sense that you just go ahead and do it. Hit the ground running, less permits and paperwork. Raising money though is easier here. Many of my friends wait on government funds to go shoot.

I noticed that you feature Israeli musicians in the music for AUGUST.  Can you talk a bit about that decision?
This music was the inspiration for this entire film. I wrote the short film Postmortem (on which August is based) to the music of Harel Shachal and Anistar after seeing them perform in NYC and this past year I partnered with another Israeli musician, Surque who composed my original score. This music is an integral part of this film. I can’t see it any other way.

How has winning the Iris Prize affected your career?
I think I owe a lot to Iris. I’ve been trying to raise money for a while and only after my win investors were able to look at me and say “We guess we can trust him now. He has proof he knows what he’s doing.” From there on I raised the money pretty quickly.

AUGUST started as a short film. What was it like to turn that into a feature film?
It was a long process. The short was meant to be an anecdote with no continuation. But it was received so well that people asked for the feature. And so the process began. You come along bumps along the way as to the structure and characters arc but it’s also quite inspiring. It provides a lot more freedom to invent things. I think the most challenging was how to adapt it to LA and how to sustain the audience’s interest for 100 minutes of what was a topic of a short film. I think we succeeded in both.

What is your writing process like?  Do you tend to develop characters first and then the plot? Do you start with a general concept and see where it goes, or do you start writing with a good idea of where the story is heading?
My process is quite free form actually. I usually know my starting point and the end point and then I connect the two points. The characters are always very clear to me but their arcs reveal themselves while I write the story (in this case collaborating with Brian Sloan). So I dump a hell of a lot on the page and then start molding and cutting away. And I never write without music. I have to find a song that represents the film. It keeps me focused and helps me visualize things.

Do you have any projects in the works?
I’m about to shoot the Iris short at the end of this summer in Wales. It’s called “Little Man” and is based on the short story of Israeli novelist Etgar Keret. I’m also developing another Israeli novella, “Games of Joy,”  by Yael Hedaya into a feature film to be shot in NY.

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