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Clermont-Ferrand Interviews: Daniel Mulloy, director of Home

Saturday 11 February 2017, by Abla Kandalaft

We interviewed Daniel Mulloy, director of short film Home, selected at the Clermont-Ferrand Film Festival, starring Jack O’Connell and Holliday Grainger.
The film, partly funded by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees was released in cinemas on 20 June 2016, to coincide with World Refugee Day.

Daniel tells us and the Brasserie du Court team about the filmmaking process, his time spent in a refugee camp and the support of the Kosovar crew...

Le court du jour : “Home” de Daniel Mulloy from ClermontFd Short Film Festival on Vimeo.

Filmed by the students of the Arfis at La Brasserie du Court.

More on the film...

What motivated you to tell the story of a family in England finding itself fleeing (into) a war zone?

I was motivated by meeting families doing the exact opposite, fleeing a war zone. In 2014/15 refugees were migrating through the Balkans, escaping death in conflict zones such as Syria. I met many who were escaping through the Balkans and heard first hand about their reality.

Returning to the UK, I felt sickening by the rhetoric used to describe refugees in my own country. There was a strong shift to the right and neo-fascistic rhetoric had become the norm. Leading elements of the British press and political elite were referring to refugees as ’swarms’, ’being swamped’ and ’overridden’, terms used to refer to rodents, not humans.

Many shared my anxiety about this terrifying phenomenon and wanted to counter it. Together we planned to make ’Home’; a ludicrous story about a family leaving their tranquil suburban life in the UK and heading into a deadly war zone. It became a study of the effect that migration has on the relationships within this particular family. New realities are revealed about the parents and bravery and power shift. Above all it became a story about love and the power for it has to survive even the most brutal of events. The endurance of love was the most powerful thing I took away from the people I was meeting and it was the seed I always returned to.

Can you tell us a bit more about the shooting conditions and the casting process?

The casting process grew from the actor Jack O’Connell who came on board early in the process. Jack connected to the story and then, with Casting Director Kharmel Cochrane, we continued to draw amazing collaborators.

We knew we would had very little time to shoot, about 4-5 days. We were filming in the UK, in Kosovo and on the Albanian boarder. We needed to shoot many large scale scenes and they were only possible to achieve through the extreme commitment of our cast and crew. Both Jack and Holliday Grainger are immense artists and it was their brilliance, as well as that of young Tahliya and Zaki (who play their children), that would become the film’s heart. We shot on 35mm and many scenes were captured in one or two takes.

For many among the Kosovo crew the story was very close to home. Almost all the Kosovo team had at one time themselves been refugees and their experience and input gave the film a very raw and real dimension. The Kosovo Security Forces were also very generous and patient and their involvement brings a power and scale.

Can you shed light on the reference to Helena Neuauber?

Helena Neubauer is my grandmother. My grandmother escaped the Holocaust and became a refugee. She was a very powerful, compelling leader and human. She looked out for me as a guardian angel. After a full career as a Pediatrician, both in the Czech Republic and Germany, my Grandmother passed away last year at the age of 103. The film is dedicated to her memory and the countless lives that she touched.

What are your cinematic projects in the future?

They are developing and I am thankful to be bringing them to life with friends who I admire greatly, as human beings and as professionals.

Any cinematic coups de coeur in the past year you’d like to tell us about?

I am very grateful that something I dreamed up fleetingly, over two years ago, has since turned into a film. The fact that people believed in that dream is my ’coups de coeur’. To have collaborated with so many talented individuals, all willing to leave their fingerprints on the film is something I am very grateful for.

If you’ve already been to Cleermont-Ferrand, could you tell us an anecdote about the festival? If not can you tell us about your expectations for this edition?

The first time I came to Clermont I had recently collaborated with a producer named Ohna Falby. I had two films in competition and Ohna had produced one of them. I had just flown over from Sundance and my immunity was shot, I was a total wreck. Ohna was unfortunate enough to be sharing a room with me, coughing and spluttering. Essentially Ohna spent her precious time at Clermont juggling meetings, whilst simultaneously curing me of a fever. Clermont has a very special energy and despite the fever we had the most amazing time, watched incredible films and presented films to Clermont’s hugely involved, articulate and passionate audiences.

Any message or comments?

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