Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan sat down for a Master Class about the making of his latest film, “Remember,” on Saturday at the Los Cabos Film Festival, which featured an homage screening several of his films. Talking with his producer Robert Lantos, exec producer BH5 Films’ Gerardo Gatica and moderator Cameron Bailey of the Toronto Film Festival, the conversation touched on finding the best actor to play a 90-year old Holocaust survivor, the confusion of dealing with so many new methods of distribution and marketing and the enduring desire for a theatrical experience.
Financed with Canadian, South African and Mexican funding, it’s officially a Canadian-German co-production.
“It’s a completely original take on the darkest chapter of horror in the last century,” said Egoyan, who explained that with Holocaust survivors dying off, it’s the last chance to tell that story in the present day without making it a period piece. “Remember” was written by Vietnam-based screenwriter Benjamin August, and it’s a rare project for Egoyan that he didn’t also write.
Egoyan was hesitant at first, but after reading the script, he realized it was exceptional. “His eyebrows were raised by the idea at first,” said Lantos (who may have a second career in stand-up), “and they’re pretty thick eyebrows.”
Popular on Variety
Finding the right elderly actor was the most important part. “Most of the other actors we could think of that were right for the part were dead,” deadpanned Lantos. Ever since Christopher Plummer signed on, the filmmakers have been praying for his health to be excellent, Lantos said.
Plummer plays a man who’s looking for the person who might be responsible for wiping out his family, while Bruno Gans co-stars.
IM Global presold in several territories, and the film should be ready for the fall 2015 festivals.
Egoyan confessed that he’s still sorting out the rapid changes in indpendent distribution. The most attractive offer for his current film “Captive,” he said, came from A24, but the deal involved an early release on DirecTV before theatrical. “Just a few months ago, I was horrified by this idea,” he said. “I find that it somehow diminishes what I perceive to be the value of the movie.”
“I’m learning about the new reality very fast, not going in with any preconception of what that market means,” he said.
Lantos was more pointed, saying “The only reason I continue to make films because there is still a thing as a movie that opens in theaters. We don’t set out to make films for people to watch on their cellphones.”
Having benefited most of his career from Canadian funding, Egoyan said he’s still adapting to the idea of needing to start a package with well-known talent, an idea that was hammered home on a finance panel earlier that day. “Actors are way more powerful than directors,” he now realizes.