- Andrzej Wajda: a spiritual resistant in the communist world
- “Movie Moments of Grace” Explained at Catholic Media Conference
- The 100 greatest films of the 21st Century
- Maren Ade’s "Toni Erdmann" Wins FIPRESCI Grand Prix 2016
- Indian nun writes script for Malayalam cinema
- St Peter’s and the Papal Basilicas of Rome 3D: An amazing film production
- 80th anniversary of Vigilanti Cura and OCIC
- "Ignacio de Loyola" advanced screening in the Vatican
- Catholics and cinema in Italy: An international perspective
- Documentary Filmmaking Practices in Africa : an International Conference
- Mombasa Archbishop applauds the role of film-makers in educating society.
- The 12th Asian Women’s Film Festival
- New production company to tackle Hollywood gender gap
- Spotlight is not an anti-catholic film
- The Oscars 2016: addressing important issues
- New documentary on life of Sr Dorothy Stang
- Marathi Jesus of Nazareth Online
- Leela Santhosh, a tribal woman film director
- Frames of poverty and social class inequality in children’s movies
- In 2015 more spectators in Europe’s cinemas
- Call for papers for the conference "Catholics and cinema in Italy between the 40s and the 70s "
- ‘Pope won’t ‘play himself’ in upcoming film
- Ave Maria - Palestinian short film nominated for Oscar
- SIGNIS Sri Lanka film appreciation seminar
- Documentary film: ’All You Need Is Love’
- Video takes Laudato Si’ to the people
- Film on displaced tribal people named ’Best Film’
- SIGNIS statement - Spotlight
- SIGNIS Statement on The Letters
- The LAFF launches a new african film student competition
- Rome’s homeless form audience for Vatican premiere of film about Pope Francis
- Indian film and its role in promoting a culture of peace
- American Bishop on Spotlight: praise for the media
- Latest James Bond film confronted with the Indian censor
- Interview with David Oelhoffen, director of Far From Men
- “Joy and hope, grief and anxiety”: a short film project of the German Bishops’ Conference.
- World Toilet Day: the importance of promoting sanitation via films
- “Fr. Gaetano Nicosia. The Angel of the Lepers”. A documentary movie
- ’India’s Daughter’ brings gender inequality, violence against women into sharp focus
- 24 writers and filmmakers return national awards
- Young CAFOD supporters show their climate change films to MPs
- Georges Khabbaz’ new film ‘Waynon’ to represent Lebanon at the Oscars
- Stations of the Cross chosen for the Italian Critics’ Award
- Are horror films C(c)atholic?
- Muhammad: The Messenger of God on Iranian cinema screens
- Insight Student Filmmaker Award 2015
- The south-Korean cinema - Office by Hong Won-Chan
- Participate in the Showing Film Award’s V Edition
- "Healing" Named ‘Australian Film of the Year’ by the Catholic Film Office
- "The Vatican Museums 3D": Experience the Greatest Art Collection in History
- "The Railway Man" Named ‘Film of the Year’ by the Australian Catholic Film Office
- The Iñigo Film Festival Awards Short Films at WYD Rio 2013
- SIGNIS Co-Sponsor of International Conference on Jesus Films in Poland
- SIGNIS Workshop Trains a New Generation of Jurors in Lyon
- Ken Loach Receives the Robert Bresson Award 2012
- SIGNIS Workshop for a New Generation of Jurors in Lyon
- Cinema, Religion and Politics in the Air
- New Egyptian Cinema: the Presence of Religion
- Exchanging One Habit for Another: "A Nun’s New Habit" Screened at Cahayasuara
- Angelus Winner Nominated For Academy Award
- A New Generation of Filipino Filmmakers: Mark Meily Awarded at the Brussels Independent Film Festival
- Faith Shorts
- "Samson & Delilah" Named Australian Film of the Year by the Catholic Film Office for 2009
- Priests Honoured at 56th Indian National Film Awards
- SIGNIS Award Winning Film Chosen as Best Film in Asian Pacific Film Festival 2009
- "Yarwng", a Salesian Priest’s Award Winning Film
- The Face of the Other (Den Andres Ansikt) in Oslo
- Angelus Announces 2009 Festival Winners
- Religion and Film in Armenia (1911-2009): From the Arrival of Cinema to the Establishment of the Ecumenical Jury
- Images of the Afterlife in Theology and Film
- "Slumdog Millionnaire" - A Brief Note
- H2Onews: Vatican Applause for “Slumdog Millionaire” Oscar
- "The Black Balloon" Named Australian Film of the Year by the Catholic Film Office for 2008
- Film Workshop "Cinema: Going Beyond the Barriers" in Prague
- First SIGNIS East Asia Film Seminar 2008: "Depiction of Core Family Values in East Asian Movies"
- Classic Film about the Life and Work of St Vincent de Paul Re-released
- Meeting Daniel Burman
- The Bresson Prize for Daniel Burman
- The Life of St.Thomas on Celluloid soon in India
- Egoyan’s "Adoration" Wins Ecumenical Prize in Cannes 2008
- SIGNIS Film Seminar to Give a “Face for the Faceless”
- Australian Catholic Film Office Names "The Jammed" Best Film of 2007
- Ken Loach to Speak at Homeless Movie Club in London
- ’Evening of Angelus’ returns to Sundance Film Festival
- Church and Film: 90 Years of History in Brazil
- Peacemaking in the World of Film
- "Ten Canoes" Named Australian Film of the Year by the Catholic Film Office for 2006
- Interreligious Screening of "Bamako" in the UK
- Alter-Ciné Foundation Documentary Film Grants 2007
- U.S. Bishops Choose Top 10 Films for 2006
- "Grbavica" Wins John Templeton Award 2006
- Vatican to Host World Premiere of "The Nativity Story"
- SIGNIS-Romania’s “Facing Children”: a Film Festival for Child Rights
- Angelus Student Film Festival selects 26 finalists
- Indian Catholic church makes Bollywood film on AIDS
- ’Evening of Angelus’ draws 400 people in Sundance
- Look Both Ways named Australian Film of the Year by Australian Catholic Film Office
- US Bishops’ Film Office Chooses Top 10 Films of 2005
- ’L’enfant’ Wins 2005 Templeton European Film of the Year Award
Interview with David Oelhoffen, director of Far From Men
Larry Rich, covering the Tribeca Film Festival IN New York for SIGNIS, interviewed David Oelhoffen, the director of Far From Men. Here is the transcript of it.
Larry Rich: The film is based on a story by Albert Camus, “The Guest,” but it certainly expands on that. Camus is obviously trying to say something about our human condition. What were you trying to do—if that’s not too abstract?
David Oelhoffen: No, it’s not abstract— because the beginning of my work was to try to understand the meaning of a short text written 60 years ago. It was not abstract question for me. Really, it is connected to current wars, and problems and issues, the confrontation between the Western world and the Arab world. Unfortunately [the same story] could take place now in a lot of places in the world connected to today’s wars. What I tried to do was to tell the story of two men trying to achieve a kind of brotherhood, a humanist approach in the midst of the chaos, in the middle of the chaotic world, and [ask] how well does a humanist approach work?. It is seen as more and more difficult and less and less efficient in the long run by some. So basically I’m trying to show how difficult it is to achieve brotherhood, how fragile it is, how important it is, and I think it’s very connected to today’s world.
LR: The two main characters, Daru and Mohammed, are caught in the middle of the two sides of a conflict. One of the things I found really interesting is that in Camus’s story Mohammed doesn’t even have a name. In your film he is a much more three-dimensional character. What were you trying to do there?
DO: In the short story, Camus is very focused on Daru’s dilemma. I wanted to build a story about brotherhood, so I needed to do two big correctives. On the one hand I had to build a background for Mohammed. On the other hand, I changed the character of Daru as was well. In the short story he’s a Frenchman, an Algerian-born pied noir*. [In Camus’s story] he has no identity problem—his identity is very clear. Instead, I wanted him to be like Mohammed, an outsider. He’s a pariah. So it’s the story of two pariahs who are [complete] opposites at the beginning of the story, but in the end they both have the same problem. They have one thing in common: there is no option for them to find shelter in their own communities. They have to find their own strength, their own values, not their communities’ values. They find they have the same solution for their problems. It’s what most interested me, these two outsiders who have to help each other to survive...
LR: That relationship develops very realistically during the film. It doesn’t happen immediately—it’s part of their journey. One of the things you’ve referred to is that it’s a Western, or at least a Western motif. Would you talk a little bit about that— why you decided to take that approach?
DO: In the short story by Camus there are elements of the Western: a prisoner to be escorted to the nearest town—very Western…
LR: 3:10 to Yuma…
DO: Yes. An isolated school, big landscape, hostile nature, all of these elements are in the short story. For me the short story by Camus talks about the law, the contradictions of the law, the struggle between two systems of laws—the tribal laws vs. the colonizers’ laws, which is a main theme of many Westerns. So I thought it was consistent not to be afraid of those elements, but I did not try to imitate American Western. Of course not all Westerns are very interesting. There is the standard Western which promotes the myth of the conquest of the West, but there are Westerns that try to show the contradictions of that myth, like Little Big Man or Anthony Mann’s Westerns. That kind of Western always interested me a lot. What I tried to do with Far From Men is not [exactly] the same myth because Far From Men is part of European history. We are not talking about the myth of the conquest of the West, but another myth, about French or European Universalism. They are not bringing civilization to the natives like in the American Western with weapons, but with the schoolteacher—another kind of weapon. I think the film shows the contradictions of that myth, how it has been perverted and turned against the native populations. The film begins at a time when this very unfair world is collapsing. Daru thinks he’s a good guy, but he’s part of a very unfair system. What I tried to do is show the contradiction of the European myth of universalism, of Europe bringing civilization to Africa—how perverted that is.
LR: I worked for a long time in Latin America and there was the myth of the civilizing influence of the Spanish and Portuguese. Although Daru at one point keeps repeating to his friend Slimane about how he is teaching them to read, and he seems to have some notion that this will give the children some skills But on the other hand he is giving out grain and teaching about the rivers in France.
DO: Yes. Slimane says to him, “Teaching them to read? No teaching them French.”
LR: It’s a very interesting exchange. He means to do well but that’s often the problem, meaning to do well
DO: Now he’s not perfect fellow, Daru. At the beginning of the story he doesn’t seem to realize a lot of things. It’s through the journey with Mohammed that he realizes he is part of the unfair system. He realizes more about himself. He’s almost a ghost—he keeps talking to Mohammed about life, life, life is the most important thing, but he is almost dead. He has no one, no love in his life, he is still in grief [over his long—dead wife], and life is not so generous. He has been isolated for a big part of his life.
LR: Daru’s back-story, that he was in the war and does not want to be part of that kind of violence again.. Is that what you are trying to show?
DO: He has been very damaged by the war. He has a fantasy life for that reason. He tries to build a shelter, isolated from the problems of the world. Of course History with a big H catches up with you no matter where you are. - You can be in South America or you can be in the Atlas Mountains. History is not an abstraction. It is everywhere. I think it’s very naive to think you can build a life disconnected from history. That’s what Daru is basically trying to do: to build the little kingdom where he is the master. It’s a selfish point of view
LR: For both of them there are references to honor. Both of them in the end see themselves as men of honor. What is that honor at the core for each of them?
DO: Honor is when you care for others—it’s the opposite of individualism. Mohammed is a man of honor because he cares very much for his younger brothers
LR: He’s willing to die for them.
DO: .Daru is a man of honor because he cares for his little children and he cares for this guy Mohammed because he does not want to be involved in his death. Honor begins when you care for others I’m not sure if that’s a very good definition
LR: It is. They are very complex characters. It is all about the dawning awareness of the other.
DO: What I like about these two characters is they’re not powerful men. They don’t have the ability to change history, to stop the war. They see things from a victim’s point of view, not from the point of view of the powerful. Their honor is connected to humanist values. They have no power. As outsiders they don’t have the option to find shelter in their own communities. That’s why honor for them is so important. It’s the only thing they may have actually.
LR: Near the very end in that wonderful scene at the crossroads, Daru talks to Mohammed about trust in the Creator. Do they both have some deeper, transcendent understanding of the world? Both come from very different cultures, very different religious backgrounds. They both seem to be observant in some way.
DO: For me they’re not religious men. Religion is not the guide for them. Religion was a big part of the culture, especially back in the ‘50s in Algeria. Daru is a traditional Catholic, and when he talks to Mohammed at the end about trusting God, he’s just trying again to convince Mohammed using Mohammed’s own tradition [to make the right decision]. What he is saying is exactly what Mohammed [prayed in Arabic] earlier at the school. It is Daru’s way of saying to Mohammed, I know you scripture and I know your God, and I was listening to you when you were afraid in my school.
LR: Beyond what we have discussed, are there other things you would like to say about the film?
DO: It was very hard and a long process to produce the movie, but I was happy to work with Reda Kateb and Viggo Mortensen—it was an ideal cast. The music by Nick Cavin and Warren Ellis was an important part of the film. They understood quickly that the center of the film was the relationship of the two characters and they focused the music on the evolution of that relationship. It is about the two characters, not about violence The music is quite harsh at the beginning. Then when the relationship softens, the music becomes more melodic. I liked working with them a lot and they helped me in our conversations before the filming to understand that the most important thing was the evolution of the relationship.