The latest episode of the Variety Critics Corner presented by Karlovy Vary International Film Festival dives into how director Alma Har’el blended Shia LaBeouf’s story of abuse with her own in “Honey Boy.”
“We both grew up in the shadow of alcoholism and of fathers who had a very difficult time being fathers, and I think that when I read [LaBeouf’s script], it awakened something that needed to be explored together,” Har’el told Variety chief film critic Peter Debruge.
LaBeouf first came across Har’el’s work when he bought a copy of her 2011 film “Bombay Beach” from Amoeba Records. From there, he sent her his script and they formed a connection based on their similar childhoods, during which they both experienced abuse – and love – from their fathers.
“It was very scary, in a way, to make this film in this climate… To do this film actually from a human perspective, trying to really get to understand the relationship of the abuser and the child, but also the love that is between them,” Har’el said. “As Shia wrote so brilliantly in the film, ‘The greatest thing my father ever gave me was pain,’ and understanding that his pain has fueled his creativity and art form and defined him in some ways.”
Har’el credits her own father with introducing her to film and fueling her drive to become a director.
“When I look at my own childhood and my father, who was – and still is – an alcoholic, but also an incredible friend, we would meet in the theater,” Ha’rel said. “He would come pick us up and we would go to see a movie.”
Now a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Ha’rel hopes to see Hollywood become a more inclusive place.
“It’s incredible to see over the years how little representation there is in those institutions, and in the Academy there is at least a genuine effort done to change that,” Ha’rel said. “Seeing the people that are joining the Academy this year is giving me some hope regarding the kind of discussion.”
Watch the full conversation above.