AFTERSCHOOL -- the not quite new film by Antonio Campos that made its New York debut a year ago at the 2008 NY Film Festival, after playing Cannes and then moving on to Berlin -- begins with a scene that brings to mind the finale of the Olivier Assayas film Demonlover. As you might expect from something that startling, the
movie takes off into a narrative that addresses the subjects of kids, adults, teachers, school and society in general – always with a camera seemingly present.
It's not pretty.
In fact, it's been awhile since TrustMovies has seen anything that depressed him as much as this film. This is not because of its quality level, for Mr. Campos (shown just above) has achieved something difficult and demanding on his end and ours: making a movie about the next generation that is slow, often very quiet, and runs the risk of alienating its audience. That it will not put off thoughtful adults is due to Campos' technical skill and his careful planning of what happens and when -- and how the insular little world that the writer/director captures reacts to the event.
Friday 10/2: Antonio Campos and cast members, moderated by Anthony Kaufman
Saturday 10/3: Cast members & crew
Sunday 10/4: Antonio Campos
Monday 10/5: Antonio Campos, moderated by Ted Hope
Tuesday 10/6: Antonio Campos, moderated by Nicole Kassell (director of The Woodsmen)
Thursday 10/8: Antonio Campos & cast members
After a number of false starts, TrustMovies managed to connect with Antonio Campos, only to learn that the delays were caused by a death in his family -- Antonio's grandfather -- just the day previous. The young writer/director rallied and spoke with us long enough to answer some of our questions.
Antonio Campos: We shot it in 2007 and released in at Cannes in 2008 and at the NY Film Festival and then at the Berlin.
I have to think back to mid-point Antonioni to find a movie this quiet that has pulled me in so thoroughly. The stillness of the film is striking. Want to talk about that?
One of the very interesting and enjoyable things about the film is how noticeably less skilled is your character Robert's POV with his video camera than are you with yours.
In your interview in the press kit for the film, you say: “The last thing one thinks of is “Who is the person holding the camera?” That struck me as odd, because that is often the first thing I think of.
Yes. Which brings up the question you address about the person holding a camera when any emergency happens -- for instance, war photographers: Do you act to help, or do you simply record? Your film raises this point in an interesting manner.
Well, the original title, when I first started the script treatment, was Afterschool Special. I am essentially playing on the idea of an Afterschool Special: something overly dramatic and moralistic. But eventually, I felt that was a bit too gimmicky. And not what the film was really about. When the film became clear to me -- that the video was what the film was about -- I felt that Afterschool was more effective as one word. And in Afterschool Special it is always spelled as one word.
One of your final lines, “Brighton will be here for you,” seems to me one of the great, scary lines in movie history.
Does what you’ve put on film reflect what you found at private school in NYC?
Is there anything else you'd like to talk about, now that I've go you? Something that journalists don't often bring up -- but you wish they would?
There are only a few journalists who have picked up the influence that Kubrick has had on me. I didn't realize until after I made my film that Antonioni had influenced me, too. At the press screenings, people pick on the influences of Van Sant and Haneke. People often compare me to them. And Haneke is the more appropriate connection, as he has been a huge inspiration on the stuff that I've been doing. I don't necessarily see Afterschool as a Kubrickian film, but Kubrick is someone who I always go back to. My love for zoom shots came from him.
What are working on now?
A couple of things: a script I am writing called Moma, about a boy growing up in NYC and the relationship he has with his mother The other is a film we’re doing for our producing partner Sean Durkin who did Afterschool, titled Martha Marcy May Marlene.
are from the film itself. You can probably tell
which are from the POV of Campos, and which are from
that of his lead character in the film within the film.)