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AFM: Yossi Ghinsberg Talks About His ‘Jungle’ Experience

“Jungle,” the new adventure/survival film from Australian helmer Greg McClean (“Wolf Creek”), is based on the true-life story of adventurer and executive producer Yossi Ghinsberg, who became lost in the Amazonian jungle for three weeks in 1981. Starring Daniel Radcliffe as Ghinsberg, “Jungle” has been making the festival rounds, and Ghinsberg spoke with Variety about getting the project made.

How did you feel when you saw the completed film for the first time?

It was out of this world. I’d seen various cuts as it was being edited, but nothing could prepare me for the first time that I saw the film with an audience. It was then that I realized just how great everything had come together. Greg McLean did a masterful job, and the film was shot on a limited budget, and I was amazed at the production value that was achieved. It’s just so great to see a captivated audience on the edge of their seats for two hours.

What was your reaction when you heard that Daniel Radcliffe would be playing you in “Jungle”?

It was completely surreal! He’s such an iconic actor, and everyone across the world knows his face from “Harry Potter,” so it’s absolutely insane that he played me on screen. We spoke for four hours during our initial conversation over the phone, and we had a great time collaborating. We became good friends, and he’s a lovely, sincere, and very down to earth guy, which can be hard when you have flocks of fans following you at every turn!

Are you a fan of survival movies in general? Did you see “The Lost City of Z”?

Yes, I’m a fan, and “The Lost City of Z” has been my inspiration. Percy Fawcett was one of my heroes, and I loved the book and the film. I was lost in the same area that Fawcett had explored, and I can identify with his sense of passion and obsession, and I definitely see the romance in searching for lost treasure.

How involved were you with the creative process of getting the film made?

I definitely had some heated but extremely productive chats with screenwriter Justin Monjo, but while it’s my story, it’s their movie, so I have to allow for compression and poetic license. A mini-series would be required to tell everything that happened, but they did a tremendous job in getting the facts correct. I stand by the statement that the film is a true story. It’s real, and I had a friend who didn’t make it back, so there’s honest emotion in “Jungle.” Greg and Justin were very generous in allowing me to share my opinions.

How has it been working with sales agent Arclight Films?

I don’t have a lot of experience, and I’ve had three separate movie deals in my life, two of which fell apart. Everyone at Arclight has been very supportive, professional, and warm, and working with producers Mike Gabrowy and Gary Hamilton has been a wonderful experience.

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