One of the especially charming films from this past LCIFF was Wintry Spring, a touching and perceptive coming of age drama from Egypt. Spring's director, Mohammed Kamel, has graciously accepted our invitation to answer a few questions about the film ahead of our encore screening of the film this Saturday at the Microfest. (Maya Saroj interviews.)
LCIFF: One of the things most impressive about this film is the acting. Some scenes have little dialogue but convey many emotions. What are some of your favorite scenes in the film?
Mohamed Kamel: I like to work with the actors/actresses way much before the shooting of the film, as i believe that a mutual trust relationship should be built between the actor/actress and the director in order to have a productive artistic co-operation, as we sit together and talk in depth about each tiny detail in the film while making rehearsals, from the biggning I knew that Mr. Ahmed Kamal will fits perfectly for the role of the father, while for the girl I made a lot of auditions and meetings just to find the right girl that fits the role of the schoolgirl until I've met Eman Moustafa (Nour) and after I auditioned her I knew that she fits perfectly for the role, I just have to mention here that she is not a professional actress and never had preformed anywhere before as this role was her first attempt ever as an actress, which i hope that eventually succeeded in expressing the crisis of what the Nour been through in the film. As for the scene, it's difficult for me to favorite one over another as I look for them all as a one unite, but for example the scene were the father and the daughter sitting on the eating table in complete silence after the father saw his daughter steal the money and each one of them is having his/her own internal dialogue while eating but we only hear the sounds of spoons and forks are hitting the plates.
LCIFF: Wintry Spring deals with issues of a motherless daughter and a complicated father/daughter relationship in the film. How difficult was it to portray both sides with such depth in a short film?
MK: I believe more in the drama that based on the human conditions not the good or the bad or who's right or who's wrong, as I believe that human behavior is way more complex and unpredictable than that. And in the film just wanted to tell a simple story about the change through a father/daughter relationship as the girl goes through a crisis of the arrival of her puberty (which happens naturally in our daily life) and from the biggning i wanted to present the both sides of the story the father/daughter equally not using the cliché of portraying the father as a conservative oppressor or the daughter as broken helpless girl, after all the father loves his daughter even though the misunderstanding that happened as a result of this complex situation which I believe it raises questions rather than just condemning one side over another, and I believe this specific aspect gives the story the dynamics needed in developing the father/daughter relationship based on that compact situation which is very tensed and confusing for both sides as the girl finds her self in solitude while having these physical and psychological changes and cannot tell her dad about it which made the father gets worry and suspicious about his daughter behavior which results the tensions and made the dialogue naturally becomes very limited between them both and that drive me to find different alternative ways for each character to express about themselves and to communicate with even with no words as we see it in the final scene for instant.
LCIFF: Even though the film is set in Egypt, the topics addressed are quite universal. Was that something you set out to accomplish from the beginning?
MK: I'm always concern to tell the stories that puts the human condition as priority in the story line that raises questions about ourselves and makes us think, as I believe that the human have many similarities and shares same qualities no matter what the difference in the language or the cultures or the race, there's always something that unite us that we can relate to, something more powerful than any boundaries or barriers that try to divide us, and that's what i believe that the cinema has this power to gather us to share our human qualities and stories with each other.
LCIFF: In terms of filmmaking style, the camera goes between the solitude of a small space like a bedroom or bathroom, to a documentary like appearance especially in the street scenes. What are some of the challenges you had in shooting in these different spaces?
MK: I prefer not use too much camera movement as I like my camera to play the role of the observer rather than to be invasive in the narrative, and I knew from the beginning that most of the story is happening inside the small apartment portrays the small world of this family, and the challenge for me was how to find place with nearly close to what I've imagined with a certain interior design that could eventually serve the idea of separating the both worlds of the girl and the father even with small spaces given to serve this perspective, as for the image I’ve chosen the natural lighting over the artificial lighting as I prefer to shoot in real actual places and use it's natural source of light as key guide for each scene to build a real atmosphere for the film, after all aren't we all try tell the audience that this a real life in the first place?
LCIFF: Ultimately what do you hope the audience takes away after viewing the film?
MK: I hope that the audience would find something that they could relates them even if it's a minor thing and eventually I hope they enjoy their time watching the film.
Wintry Spring will be featured on April 22nd as part of Microfest.