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BAFTA Screenwriter Lectures Series: Alfonso Cuaron & Nadine Labaki
December 3, 2018
Here at Candid we had the privilege to be invited to a series of lectures by Bafta dedicated to the art of screenwriting for films. Usually our film reviewers would be traipsing across London to various dark and dingy screening rooms, attending these lectures was a welcome change, giving us chance to see the inner workings of all these talented film-makers, whose films we’ve been watching and reviewing year in, year out.
The Bafta Screenwriters Lectures consisted of an impressive host of talents whch included: Alfonso Cuaron (Y Tu Mamá También, Gravity, Roma), Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver, American Gigolo, First Reformed) , Oli Parker (Mamma Mia!, The Best Exotic Marigold), Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Hunt for The Wilder People), Nicole Holofcener (Friends With Money, Enough Said) and Nadine Labaki (Caramel, Cappernaum). We decide to attend two of the lectures, that of Cuaron and Labaki. Our decision was based on solely on the film-makers that I knew their work most and had the stongest affections for.
Alfonso Cuaron’s film are intimate affairs films that are juxtaposed by the expansive space they occupy. The conversation in this lecture started analyzing Cuaron’s films from 2000 onwards with the release of Y Tu Mama Tambien, despite previous international success with previous films such as his 1997 adaptation of Great Expectations (Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke). Cuaron’s lecture was geared more to the conversational, in a mostly Q&A format, with interviewer Jeremy Brock guiding us through Cuaron’s career trajectory. Cuaron comes across as engaging, likeable seemingly easy-going figure; extremely detail orientated in his work (we are given snapshots of his scripts where everything is mentioned to the minutest specifics). Brock attempted a few times to project a common thread amongst all his films, but Cuaron humbly denied any intentionality, claiming that he works mostly on instinctual level. Where Brock tried to downplay, Cuaron was suprisingly happy to address his involvement with the Harry Potter franchise, he directed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, describing it as the most fun project, opening many doors for future films he wanted to make. You can read transcripts of the lecture here.
Cuaron’s has just released his epic semi-autobiographical film Roma about the life and his family’s relationship with their live-in maid Cleo. The film will be available on Netflix from the 14th of December.
Nadine Labaki is a younger filmmaker, her presentation was less ad-hoc and more prepared in comparison. Eagerly and thoroughly divulging the impetuses and methodology behind her films, describing her own thoughts and emotional in the process giving us a captivating, glimpse into her own life. Labaki’s life and unique voice feels honest to the core, very matter-of-fact, there are no airs and graces, despite being one of Lebanon’s foremost film-makers. With three films under her belt, each one a complete labour of love, articulating in a clear and concise manner her personal message to the world. Her debut Caramel gave the perspective of various female characters in modern day in Beirut. Her follow-up in 2010 Where Do We Go Now? explores the frictions between Christians and Muslims in Lebanese society. With her latest upcoming release Capernaum, already received the Jury prize at Cannes earlier this year, is possibly her most poignant if most gut-wrenching, highlighting the current refugee crisis in Lebanon. Roping in a series of non-actors, refugees themselves adding another level of nuance to this tragic tale about young boy who seeks to sue his parents from bringing him into this world. You can read transcripts of the lecture here.
Capernaum will be released in the UK in 2019.
Words by Daniel Theophanous @danny_theo_.
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