Tete-e-tete with Australian Filmmaker Bruce Beresford

The director opens up about his upcoming directorial and meeting Satyajit Ray
Bruce Beresford
Bruce Beresford

From directing Academy Award-winning movies Breaker Morant and Driving Miss Daisy, to making operas, and authoring a novel, Bruce Beresford has done it all. The Australian director was recently in attendance at the Kolkata International Film Festival, and Indulge caught up with him on his journey, upcoming directorial, and his lunch with the legend Satyajit Ray! excerpts from the chat.

You have directed short films, operas, documentaries, and films. How different was it working with each medium?
Operas are quite different. I thought it was a wonderful medium because the music is so passionate that it tells a story. In 1986, I directed my first opera. I’m not musically trained, but I do love directing them. In films, you can move all around but operas work under strict parameters because the singers have to do exactly what the music tells them to do. So the director has to think of bits of staging that fit in with the music. In films, you can change everything.

Was your first tryst with India during the making of Arts of Village India?
Yes. I was doing a series of art films for the Arts Council in Britain and one was Arts of Village India. There was an exhibition and we filmed that around 1968. I haven’t seen that film for years.

You had lunch with Satyajit Ray. Tell us about the encounter.
We were a group but I was near him. I talked to him about Pather Panchali. He was fairly quiet but very polite. He answered questions about the making of Pather Panchali. I told him I found the cameraman gifted. He told me that the cameraman was his still photographer. He told me bits about how the film was made in five years. His dedication was incredible. He added that it was difficult to find small amounts of money to do it.

Is this your first time in Kolkata?
Yes, and I’m enjoying it. I have met a lot of interesting people. it’s fun to be in an atmosphere where there is so much excitement about filmmaking. There’s an Australian-Indian co-production agreement in the pipeline.

Tell us about your movie that will go on floors this year.
It’s a film about an Australian man working in Germany, who comes back to his country as his mother is dying. But once he’s home, he finds it hard to get away. It’s about his interaction with all the characters in town. it sounds like a drama but it’s light-hearted. I wrote the script during lockdown.

Would you like to change anything from any of your films?
No. once they are done, I don’t see them again. Sometimes I do, but that’s only to grade them and that too, without the sound on.

What is your take on OTT?
I get bored watching them if they go on for 10-20 episodes. I think they should tell these stories shorter.

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