Pur Laine – Synopsis
An old man suddenly dies, leaving his most recent wife to sell the house and start a new life. When his daughter from a previous marriage appears and claims the house is hers, all hell breaks loose.
(Screened at #OCanFilmFest2018 on November 3, 2018)
About the director, Alexander Cruz
Alexander was born and raised in Ottawa (b. 1985), but has worked and lived in Calgary, Toronto and Manila. He spent most of his twenties looking for greener pastures as a production assistant and videographer for different studios. Once he realized you have to be rich to be a starving artist, he returned to Ottawa a few years back and found inspiration telling local stories. He has made several short documentaries like “Mémoires sans frontières,” (2012),“Fiesta” (2013) and “68 années de l’hiver” (2014), and other experimental art house stuff that even he doesn’t quite understand. His films have been exhibited at art and film festivals across Canada, in the United States and in South East Asia. With “Pur Laine” (2018), he followed the advice of others and wrote about what he knows: the struggle of first and second-generation immigrants, and the lingering anxieties of les habitants. He lives in Hull.
What inspired your film?
My film was inspired by family conflicts that I know too well. When I was younger I used to hate seeing these kinds of arrangements: an older man married to a younger Filipina. As I got older (and lived in the Philippines) however, I realized things are a lot more complicated than the tired old narratives that we tell ourselves.
What was your biggest challenge in making your film?
The biggest challenge in making the film, like any film, is making the damn film! The film was initially a coming of age story centering on Levi, but I realized the scope was too big and I needed to do more with less. So, I honed in on what drives the characters: home, and all of the nostalgia that comes with it. That was tough. So was casting, and editing, and finding the energy to power through it all but hell apparently I’m still here.
What was the best part of the experience for you?
I would say the first few days of the shoot was the best experience for me. We filmed in my dad’s house. All of the scenes were between Marie Claire (Isabelle Lafond) and Florent (Emile Boudreau) and I was inspired by the emotional range of what we filmed over those two days. Most of the time, I’m just focussed on getting what I need and keeping up. For a moment, though, I felt like we had created something. Of course, part of that surprise is having known the character of that home prior to the shoot. Usually my dad is just on his ass, semi-conscious while he watches a re-run of the Blue Jays game. On film it feels like Vieux Hull – you can smell the depanneur wine. It’s a lot of fun.
What advice would you give aspiring filmmakers?
It’s funny, because I still have a hard time calling myself a “filmmaker” or an artist.” Both titles seem bloody pretentious if no one knows who you are. In any case, the advice I’d give to aspiring filmmakers is to focus on improving. Watch your films and be honest. Distance yourself from the product, don’t personalize the outcome, and take responsibility for where you have to better. Most people give up because their film isn’t what they wanted it to be, or because they were once the talk of the town and now younger and more talented people are. For me, what’s so interesting (and gruelling) about this craft is that there is so much to learn, so it’s better to approach things with humility. And don’t drink your own juice. We all have our heads up our butts to a degree, and accept that many people see us as such and don’t think we’re worth a dime.
What’s next for you?
I’m always working on something. A doc on a musician friend of mine that I’ve shelved for some time, and a script of course. Can’t say much about what the latter is about, because even I don’t really know.
Click here for more info on the films screening this year.