#11: Meet ALEX WEBB

20 10 2009

ALEX WEBB, writer/director/producer

Film: “HOVE” (“THE WIND”)

Screening: Saturday Oct. 24th, 7pm

Two Armenian women’s friendship is deeply affected by a chance encounter with the past and the powerful, unresolved legacy of the Armenian Genocide.

Zara (played by Olympia Dukakis) is visited by her friend Nina (played by Shirleyann Kaladjian) at her Armenian cultural bookstore. Zara is reading a mysterious book that has deeply disturbed her.

Hove poster

1. Tell us a little about yourself and where you have lived, highlighting any major cultural identities that define, influence or challenge you in your life.

I married into the Armenian community some years ago and was welcomed with open arms.  Right from the beginning I felt very comfortable in the community,  and as a result I have become as some say “ABC” = Armenian By Choice.  Through my son, Andranik and my wife, Shirleyann Kaladjian, the Armenian community has become my community and as a writer it has influenced what I am thinking about and writing about.

2. How did you come to be a filmmaker, and where/how did you learn the “craft” of filmmaking?

When I was 11 I discovered that our local library had 8mm films (Chaplin, Keaton and Laurel and Hardy).  For my next birthday I got a used 8mm projector from a pawn shop and started showing these films to family and friends.  I think this was the beginning of really considering filmmaking.  As an actor, I have worked in front of the camera for twenty years.  While on the set, I have always used my down time to talk with cinematographers, gaffers, and directors.  I have made my working life as an actor my film school.

3. What prompted the idea for your film and how did it evolve?

I knew that I wanted to build a story around some photographs from the Genocide.   I grew up a fairly typical American kid and I knew that throughout school and watching films and TV I had seen many indelible images from the Holocaust but it struck me that I had never seen an image from the Armenian Genocide.  I thought what would it do to the denial efforts of the Turkish government if more people had just seen these photos?  Once you have seen the photos, I feel that it almost makes you a witness to the event.  I believe that people that have seen these photos will hopefully be less vulnerable to the ridiculous disinformation that is put out there.

4. What is your single favorite line from your film?

Olympia’s character (Zara) says to her younger friend (Nina played by Shirleyann Kaladjian), “Yes, you’ve seen before … But now you understand.”  This is really the center of the film.  The moment when someone discovers a deeper understanding of something important to their own identity, and who they are within their family, within their culture.

5. What movies would you say have transformed or changed the way you see the world?

“You Can’t Take It With You” is a very important film to me, it is everything you could want in a film:  very entertaining, brilliantly written, beautifully directed by Capra,  amazing characters, funny and in addition to all that, deeply subversive and powerful.  A simple message, life is much more interesting than the bean-counters, the politicians and some of your teachers tell you.  There are endless choices and it’s up to you to pick the most challenging and passionate you can find.   When I saw this film, just out of college, at the American Film Institute it really made me pause.  What am I going to do with my life?  I think that film asks us to make a true choice not the easy one.  More recently “Alien” (Ridley Scott is a model for detail, frame and never compromising) and “Pulp Fiction” (Tarantino reminds us that the only limits to filmmaking are your own creativity) and Truffaut’s “Day for Night” for just being in love with films and filmmaking.

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