Joray: Woodwind is pure existentialism

Woodwind’s Swiss-Italian cinematographer Nicolas Joray goes deeper on the values of the film, his craft with the camera and his experience behind the scenes in India and South Africa.

Even though Joray hails from the visual department, it was the unique story of sound that pulled him into the story.

“The interesting development of music in the film, and the language of the sounds already integrated in the script by director Fin Manjoo, really impressed me to join this movie,” says Joray.

“I also loved the room for multiple interpretation between the lines. The storyline itself has a simple structure, but in a more metaphysical direction based on pure existentialism. The searching of Bonifaz really opened a philosophical dimension,” he added.

With four decades of experience in the camera department, the DOP Joray spoke about his early inspiration for Italian neorealism. This time he points to the visual style Woodwind reminded him of.

“The Neorealism with Bonifaz’s transformation together in this reality, it touched me very much. I also love the poetic style of Russian cinema with Andrei Tarkovsky and the realism of Elem Klimov,” said Joray.

The cinematographer is hinting that the film provides an interesting contrast between realism and a more poetic inner world. This reminded Joray of his work in the 1970s when filmmakers were exploring a different revolution in the craft.

“In 1972 I was in with the Nouvelle Vague. It was a very interesting time, the techniques changed a lot in this decade. In my early years we shot feature films with a camera of nearly 50 kilos, and on other movies I had to load the mags with b/w stock. Then the low weight 16mm cameras got used more and more, the flexible ARRI 35 BL family arrived. Filmmaking got more “democratic” and more possibilities of personal expression were possible,” said Joray.

The DOP was looking for an intimate portrayal of the lead character, Bonifaz the composer and this was one of his modes of operation in setting up his visual department with director, Fin Manjoo. Then there’s also vast landscapes in the Himalayas that Bonifaz explores in the film, which would’ve reminded Joray of his mountain home back in the Swiss Alps.

“I was very impressed by the width and depth of the valleys on the other side of the Rhotang Pass in the Himalayas. There was a bright blue sky combined with the dry brown landscape, surrounded by the tops of white, snow capped mountains. It was a great experience! You could feel already the Tibetan spirit, and we also could enjoy their food,” remembered Joray.

“The Manali valley reminded me more of my place (in Switzerland). The green of the woods , the grey rocks, even the buildings, the stables looked a little bit like Leventina, the way it is constructed with stones, without cement and even their roofs were partially covered with stone plates , similar to the roof on my house. The colours and structure of the landscape is not so different between the villages on the foothills of the Himalayas and Switzerland. They were also nice, friendly people,” reflected Joray.

Readers can already get a sense of what Joray is talking about with the landscapes toward the end of the Woodwind trailer.

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