Saturday, 18 July 2009

Diplomacy - Prix du Public at Paris Cinema International Festival

On Monday night the short film Diplomacy won the Prix du Public (Audience Award) at the Paris Cinema International Festival.

»» Interview with the director Jon Goldman in Paris.

Emilie from France kindly translated the text for us. Welcome to our blog, Emilie, and thanks so much!
After 'Kind of a Blur' here is the second Jon Goldman's short film in the competition. Nine minutes between tension and comedy for a meeting at the top. Diplomacy offers a confidential entry into the world of international diplomacy...

You are yourself a translator. Is this movie autobiographical ?

Well it's a bit complicated. I don't work in the world of diplomacy but in the movie business. I translate scripts from French to English. However I've been familiar with this kind of situation because as a translator, you often have the opportunity to change words for the sake of a better meaning. It's impossible to translate directly: between two languages there are two cultures. So you have to understand and really know the culture, not just the meaning.

It is a very precise film with a lot of attention to the details. How did the filming go?

First there was a huge amount of work put into the writing. Each word had to find its place. We shot the movie in two days in February. We edited it three months ago. That was before the elections in Iran but Obama was already president. At this moment I was really interested in what was going on between Iran and the United States. I imagined there was a possibility for a dialogue between the two of them.
For me it It was a difficult project but very fascinating. The editing style had to follow the rhythm of the dialogue and, at the same time, give enough time to read the subtitles. And we needed to be able to listen to the person talking at that moment and observe the reactions of the others.

How did you direct the actors?

The directions were very precise. Rehearsals were intense. They often wanted to change something but it was really difficult to allow space for improvisation in this movie. If they did propose a modification I had to think about it for 24h just to be sure whether it was right or wrong.

Did people see the film in Iran? How did they react?

I showed it to some Iranian politicians and journalists. Everyone who's seen it loved it. I've been told it was very difficult to show it to the people in Iran but thankfully there is YouTube!
So I intend to add a translation in Farsi for the Iranian version because some details about the language escape the viewer of the English version.
Diplomacy synopsis:

The American Secretary of State is about to meet the Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs. They both have an interpreter: Michael for the United States and Azar, a radiant young woman, for Iran. Faced with increasing tension, they improvise a tacit strategy and change the dignitaries’ words. Jon Goldman does a brilliant and energetic description of exchanges during negotiation, making us feel the tension which is about to explode. Based on a topical subject, the film brings up the latent lack of understanding between Iran and the United States and calls a general question on a possible dialogue between the two countries. Through a lucid sense of irony, the film suggests that, sometimes, moving a few words could change things, as diplomatic relations often hang by the subtle thread of rhetoric.

Cast: Michelle Forbes, Navid Neghaban, Omid Abtahi, Nazanin Boniadi

Diplomacy will have its U.S. premiere at the Rhode Island International Film Festival August 4-9.