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Hey kids, we got to speak with the director of one of the most original and innovative films of the Tribeca Film Festival.  Having made a splash at Tribeca 2007 with the world’s first full-length feature filmed entirely on a cell phone, Cyrus Frisch returned to present Dazzle, which stars (- but never shows) Rutger Hauer and Dutch superstar Georgina Verbaan

 

Dazzle – Director Cyrus Frisch

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  In Dazzle, you integrate footage of the homeless with one character’s questioning why she looks away from their troubles, while another character regrets his involvement in war.  How important is social commentary to your films?

Cyrus Frisch:  Up until now, all my films center on the question of, ‘In what way am I responsible for the suffering of others?’  The stream of information of other people that are not happy or need help, how should we deal with it?  I have a strange feeling that if people look at the news every evening, they might end up being traumatised ultimately because how can you cope with all of that information?  You can only cope if you’re not letting it though completely. 

So, I was battling with those kinds of questions for years and all my films in some way another are about this.  About fifteen years ago, I started shooting material from all these wonderfully colourful people outside. In fact, I rented this house in order to be there.  It is the strangest place in Amsterdam, maybe even the whole of Holland, because all the weirdest people roam around there especially right beneath my house.  It’s very near Central Station in Amsterdam, so they came from all over Europe to buy their drugs and do their stuff right underneath my window.

 

LMD:  Were you afraid?

CF:  No, because they were wonderful people most of the time. 

 

LMD:  I wasn’t sure if I was looking at actors in those homeless scenes.

CF:  It’s fascinating because only here {in New York} people are asking, “Is this real?” And I would ask them, “What do you think?”  Everybody here was saying, “I think they’re actors,” and then I would say, “Well, I think I would be as good a director as you think I am.”  I don’t think I would be able to make those shots of a bum going insane with actors.

Then the question is raised, “Well, is there a moral issue?  Can you just film those people?”  Most of the people I knew, or I said, “I filmed you and I’m working on the film,” I explained it to them.  When I took the time, I noticed that all these people that everybody looks at as animals.  The animals are from big cities, they all have become like that because they are extremely sensitive.  Those people are so sensitive they cannot cope with society in a normal manner, therefore they become drug addicts, therefore they become bums, except for a few insane people.  So, in fact they’re very interesting and intelligent people and they understood why it was so important for me to make this film and they wanted me to use them.

 

LMD:  How did you get your actors involved on this very experimental project? 

CF:  Georgina Verbaan, by the way, is one of the major female actresses at the moment in Holland.  I made a play out of {the idea for the film} 5 years ago in Holland, and I really meant to use the play as a rehearsal period for the film, so, we did it.  I thought, ‘Who ideally should I have as the leading character?’ and I thought, Georgina Verbaan, because she has this talent for making heavy things light, somehow.  Nobody understood, because nobody had seen a role similar to this of hers, people could not make the connection.  And I’m the “enfant terrible” of Dutch film, the wild man, and she’s the total opposite and it attracted me to working with her.  It worked out very well in the play.  And I got Rutger Hauer as the counterpart. 

 

LMD:  How did you get him to come on board?

CF:  That wasn’t difficult at all.  Two years ago, I got a lot of attention for a film I did with this mobile phone.  I was in all kinds of radio and television programs and he was in the same programs, so about the third time we met on a television show, we shook hands and a week afterwards I realised, ‘Oh I should have asked him about the part’.  I sent him an email, “Are you interested in playing the lead next to Georgina Verbaan with only your voice?”  And within 10 minutes, he answered, “My God, that would be a challenge!”  So, that was it.  Then afterward, he said, “It’s going to be my first part in thirty years in a Dutch film.  I’m only doing this because I really love this project.  I think it’s very important.”  He loves my films, he really loves them.  So everybody was really amazed, “He’s coming back after thirty years and he’s gonna pick his film?”

 

LMD:  Then you can’t even see him.  That’s kind of perverse.

CF:  He has that sense of humour, but he really loves it.  The money he earned with this film, he gives it away to his charity.

 

LMD:  It must have been a recharge to his creative batteries to work in this new approach?

CF:  He’s just a very intelligent man.  It’s interesting because he can be very vague until you don’t know if he’s a genius, or he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or somewhere in between, you just don’t know.  Until you start talking about a script or about shots, he becomes as intense as I’ve never seen before.  Exactly right about everything and very practical.  I noticed before that somehow with the very best, it’s very easy to work with because they don’t doubt all those things that everybody else is doubting.  So it was a big party to make this film.

 

LMD:  Do you think that your reputation for doing such experimental work makes you more attractive for actors who enjoy putting glamour or ego aside?

CF:  Tilda Swinton, we write emails now and then.  She is also interested in working together because I don’t seem to follow the rules.

 

LMD:  Since your 2007 film, Why Didn't Anybody Tell Me It Would Become This Bad in Afghanistan was such a sensation, what did it mean to you to bring Dazzle to the Tribeca Film Festival?

CF:  It’s great because people take me more serious the second time I’ve come here.  The other thing it was - I wouldn’t call it a joke – but it was something that just happened in between.  It wasn’t something I planned at all, it just happened.  It only took me two months and then there was this strange film I made with this cellphone.  So for me it’s something very different from all my other work, because all my other films I worked on for years and years, it’s not comparable.  I don’t take that cellphone film completely serious, myself, though it might be my biggest thing.  My best film I made years ago, it’s called Forgive Me.  It was made in 2001; it was my best film up until now.  My cellphone film went to 40 international film festivals, which is strange because it’s not my best film.  Therefore, it feels good to be back here with a much better film.

 

LMD:  What is next for you?

CF:  I’m working on a major project called the World Problems project.  I have a dream that I want to get five filmmakers that are much better than me each making one fictional feature film about one of the main global issues and their solutions.  These are gonna be fictional films that are not only gonna give insight to things like poverty, the environment, major themes, and also what can you do about it, if you wanna do something about it.  I have a list of about 60 people that I ideally wanna have working on this project.  I have the first maybes, but it may be too early to {confirm}.  And they all say, “Fantastic, if you want my help, please do,” so, I just sent out emails to these geniuses saying, “If you have to write a scenario that might lead to world peace, how would the synopsis be?”  And they’re writing it!  These geniuses of our time, it’s so cool.

My personal next film will about all the major world problems and their possible solutions. It’s going to be very colourful, fast, funny, but also a very serious film.  Maybe something like Slumdog Millionaire in the sense of its colourfulness and the huge amounts of information. It’s going to be more, much more, cos it’s gonna deal with all these things in a way that makes sense.  Luckily, I’m doing it together with Elena Simons, a very intelligent Dutch girl who wrote a book called All the Major World Problems and Their Solutions.

 

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

April 30th 2009

 

 

 

 

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Photos

Exclusive photos by LMD

Film stills courtesy of Stichting Filmkracht

 

 

 

 

 

 

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