Interview with Alex Kruz

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Day Moibi met Alex Kruz at the Cambridge Film Festival and spoke to him about his film PARIVARA, a labour of love  based on the true life stories of the children from the Goldungha Orphanage for the Blind in Nepal.

Day Moibi: The voice over is very personal, and tells a journey rather than a story. Was this your intention?

Alex Kruz: Well, you find yourself telling the same story every 90 minutes, and we didn’t want to make it into this kind of ‘misery porn’. With my background as a soldier, I spent two years seeing all kinds of violations of human rights. That’s the thing I took from it, and will remember all my life. The film itself is built on a foundation of saving children. It’s something that I’ve always been passionate about, and I guess it’s a story that I encapsulated in terms of just spending time with the kids and the Charitree Foundation, and trying to bring out something positive in all of this. Many of the children have been abandoned, discarded by society and their families, or worse still, killed off by starvation. Y’know, to see their stories and to be able to tell their stories is extremely powerful, and can touch people universally. It’s that part of the human spirit that makes us who we are. Everyone in that foundation is learning how to teach others. Physically, they have this brother sister type of empathy, and this kind of connection in which they teach each other.

 

DM: What inspired you to tell this story?

AK: This is the first time I’ve directed a film. I’ve produced a lot of films, about Africa and Somalia, about children who have been married off, about children who have been mistreated by the government. So for me to write the story versus hearing these voices and getting them heard is just great. Because there’s no economic initiative, people don’t tell these stories. So, I think that these are stories that touch me, and that’s what’s important.

 

DM: How did you feel with making the film and telling a story that many people considered ‘political’?

AK: Well I wanted to show what people experience when they’re kept in darkness, and how their lives compare to ours. You see that in the movie: how they perceive things, and I’m interested in how the audience react to that. This was new for me, being on set all the time, talking to kids that I’d known, it was new to take on.

 

DM: What is the role of the artist in your opinion?

AK: I think their role is to make people feel. To make them see, to make them think. Give them that experience that you had while making the film. In order to be an artist, you have to be vulnerable, and be able to open yourself up. You may not have the best house, a real relationship, you may not have all these things that people can take for granted, but at the end of the day we just need to be true to ourselves, and look deep down, appreciate what we have. So as an artist, it’s your responsibly to give back. To enrich the lives of others.

 

DM: The film plays with the poetry of landscape. What was your mission behind this?

AK: You’ve put it so well! When it was in my words it was all in poetry, and my co-producer and I just looked at each other and thought, “No kid speaks like this!”. So yeah, there’s a lot of poetry. But I think that helps bring out the fact that all these kids are in all these terribly difficult situations.

 

DM: The voice over brings the viewer into the world of the child. Why did you decide to use the voice of a child?

AK: Along with the visuals, it made more sense to do this to tell the child’s story. It brought much more of a connection. We could have easily used our connections and got a celebrity to do the voice over or something, but it wouldn’t really tell the child’s story authentically. It was made even better in the end, as we found a way to tell it in the original language. I think that’s the best way to be true to the subject. I mean it was weeks of interviews, day in day out. At first we thought, “We don’t even know what the story’s going to be, we just have a bunch of footage”. I mean, I was originally thinking of hypnotising the kids and finding what their background was, as I had read a book on that for my thesis. It was a way of getting to know ourselves better. But getting a child to just sit there for that long was impossible! So we thought, “Ok, let’s just do something more social”, which was so much fun and worked out great. In the end, the story became a combination of all the children’s stories.

It touches your soul when someone watches and understands your work. You spend years on it with your sole vision, so when someone else gets it, that means a lot.

Click here to donate to the PARIVARA filmmakers’ project to build a home for the children.


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