New Delhi, April 11 (IANS) Oscar-winning filmmaker Marshall Curry feels the world is going through a difficult time, saying people “have been whipped up by demagogues who want us to demonise each other and discriminate against strangers who might have different religions or skin colour”.
This year, Curry won an Oscar for “The Neighbors’ Window”, a short narrative film that he wrote and directed. He was previously nominated three times for Academy Awards for his documentary films — “Street Fight”, “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” and “A Night at the Garden”.
Asked if “The Neighbors’ Window”, which gives a message for having empathy towards neighbours, resonates with the political and social sentiments around the world, Curry told IANS: “It is a difficult time in America and in the world right now. People have been whipped up by demagogues who want us to demonize each other, to discriminate against strangers who might have different religions or skin colour or lifestyles than we do.”
“So I hoped that in a small way, the film would remind people to be gentle with each other and realise that everyone is struggling with something,” he added.
“The Neighbors’ Window”, which is available to stream in India via ShortsTV, tells the story of a middle aged woman with small children whose life is shaken up when two free-spirited twenty-something move in across the street.
Talking about the movie, he said: “When I finished writing, I began to pull together a terrific team – cinematographer, producers, actors – and we shot the whole film in just four days in the apartment owned by very generous friends. I wanted to begin the film with a sense of light humour to draw the audience in, but over the course of the film I tried to make the emotions deepen – and darken a bit – until the end. I think that life often has turns like this that happen suddenly, so we were all working together – the cinematographer, the actors, the musicians, etc. — to try to trace those contours in a way that felt natural.”
The short film runs high on voyeurism and nostalgia, and Curry says the themes were built into the very initial concept for the film.
“A few years ago I heard a story on a podcast called Love + Radio in which a middle-aged woman named Diane Weipert described seeing a young couple move in across the street. The story was beautifully told and really stayed with me, and a few years later it became the inspiration for my script,” added Curry, who has also directed the award-winning documentaries “Racing Dreams” and “Point and Shoot”.
Asked if the world is missing out on creative learning by not delving more into short film format, he said: “I love making short films, and I’m happy there are platforms such as ShortsTV and others that are sharing them!”
“The ability to stream short films on the Internet has made a big difference in the size of audiences. It’s now possible to share short films with millions of people who would have had no way to see them just a few years ago. With platforms such as ShortsTV, our films can reach millions of households,” he said.
He has been nominated for an Oscar several times, and won an Oscar. But he doesn’t let the award glory come in middle of his creative thoughts while working on a project.
“I have been nominated three times before for documentaries, but winning was a new experience for me, and it was nice to be there with a fiction film. It was also a lot of fun to be able to celebrate with the team that made the film with me. I don’t really think about the Oscars when I am making a film because I know that it is always a huge long-shot for any film to get recognised by the Academy, so I just try to make the best films I can,” he said.
At the moment, he is working on “a few fiction projects and a few non-fiction projects that are in early stages. I really love to shoot and edit, so I’m looking forward to digging in again on a new film”.