We talk to the writer-director for his opinion about the best works in cinema during the past year, including movies in 2017 because films are usually released later in South Africa.
Question: What was the best film you’ve seen in 2018?
A: Woodwind, without a doubt, but this opinion only counts for myself and shouldn’t matter to anyone else. Each person has their own ideals of how a film should be shaped and according to my personal tastes and standards, I’m thankful to everyone in our cast and crew, that we’ve fulfilled all our objectives so this position is not surprising.
However, what does ‘best film’ mean? Are we talking about the most entertaining film, the funniest film, the most educational film, the best film to arouse an audience, to make them hungry, to make them take up arms, to cry or panic? These are different attributes. So, I’m answering you according to my bias and expectations of what a film should achieve. Ultimately, all that matters to me is that a work of art is essential to our lives and we receive our fruit from the film itself.
Q: Other than Woodwind what were the best films you’ve seen this past year?
A: In the past year I’ve seen all the films nominated for awards at Cannes, Sundance, the Oscars, other prominent ‘judging houses/juries’, plus films of all the directors that I admire. After all that, the one that stood out the most for me was The Square (2017) but it also fell short of the mark, so when you consider that I haven’t been altogether impressed then my estimation of Woodwind isn’t that high. The most impressive work of art in motion picture over this time period has been Twin Peaks The Return (2017) but that’s been categorized as a TV show. I see it as one incredible 16-hour motion picture which I think is superior to Woodwind, but I don’t like to compare one art against another. You’re asking the questions so now I have to think like that. If we could follow Bonifaz for 16 hours, I might change my mind 🙂
Q: So what about your estimation of the best films in recent years?
A: Over the past decade or so: Tree of Life (2011), The White Ribbon (2009) and There Will Be Blood (2007) – that’s the best three I’ve seen in recent times.
Q: You spoke about Woodwind being the best according to your objectives in the past year, so what are those objectives?
A: If you watch Woodwind, I spell out my objectives of art in the film itself. The first third of the film isn’t shaped in that particular style because only when the composer Bonifaz learns to create his ideal music at a certain point in the movie, only then you see the film change into a new form, fitting those ideals. The artistic choices in each moment reflects the mode of the artist, Bonifaz in each moment. To best understand those objectives you must watch the film, but I don’t want to avoid the question so I will tell you that Woodwind is the transformative power of motion pictures and sound. I enjoy all kinds of films from over a century of cinema but we hardly come across movies that tap into this potential quality. I’ve only started and there’s a long way to go.
Q: You’ve only started, what’s next and how’s that going to fit into your vision forward?
A: Woodwind’s protagonist was a very sophisticated artist so I had to reflect the world of that character, but in my second feature film, No Matter the story is about an everyman, a gardener who works in the mines. Here the subject matter is not about art but the story represents a humanity which is easier for everyone to relate to, and even I’m emotionally overwhelmed with this character… but I don’t want to give away anything about No Matter right now.
In this interview I prefer to focus on Woodwind because it’s available to watch now, though I’m not saying this to sell Blu-ray’s or DVDs, because how I’m satisfied with the film shouldn’t matter to others, I think those who’ve heard about the movie, have already decided whether they’re going to add the film to their collection or not.
If anything I know that my statement isn’t going to be received well because there’s going to be many angry viewers shouting that Oscar winner The Shape of Water or the frontrunner for most popular movie, Black Panther was somehow more essential to them. We’ve got to respect all opinions.