A man needs to refit the world he's been kept out of for twenty years.
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Catharine Lin
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
The very original inspiration is from an image I saw in real life: a poorly dressed old man wandering in front of a fancy office building one day who seemed to want to go inside to visit someone but looked very hesitant at the same time. This image somehow kept well in my mind and I created the screenplay like a fiction background story for that man: who did he want to visit? And why did he hesitate? After I set up this ex-inmate background for him, I found a short impressive documentary video during my research, about a man actually coming out from prison after 20 years. It shows the problems he’s facing with his family, his work, the whole new world he is trying to fit into again, which convinced me that this fiction I’m working on has its social value.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
It’s a very universal, humanity-themed film. We all feel like we don't fit in at certain point, and try to get connected with and accepted by others. You'll find yourself easily engaging with this old man’s first day journey out of prison and think about your own experience after watching.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
Communication and connection are the personal and universal themes for me. I often find myself work as a communicator between different cultures and I have a masters in linguistics which is also a study of communication in words. As a basic and necessary interaction between human beings, I’m always interested in how people get connected and disconnected with others or the world through communications. And this film definitely presents such theme from all different angles.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The first draft was done in half hour, once you can see those scenes in your head, coding them into words is really fast and it’s a very short script of 6-7 pages. The ending, at the beginning, was more like a tragedy. I wanted to show the cruel side – there’s nowhere to go for those ex-inmates. Then I created several other endings with a bit of hope according to the notes and stuck to this current version simply because it fits my budget.
I also had some challenges during scouting, there are lots of locations in his journey and LA is an expensive place to shoot, but we eventually nailed all of them in the most economic way. We also didn’t have enough time to cover my last and most important scene in the park, which left me many pains in the editing room, finding a best way to show my original idea with very limited footage.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Luckily all positive so far, receiving multiple awards including best director, best story, best actor and actress and selected/screened by many international film festivals. The audience will come up to shake my hand and thank me for such a heart warming film. I can see they really enjoyed it and liked it from their faces. Some will also share the particular part they love and discuss some of the scene as filmmaker themselves.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
The only feedback surprised me was from my rough cut. Originally there was one shot where the character looks at the children playing in the square, which was set for reminding him of his own children. However some people thought it was indicating him as a molester, since we never get to know what put him to prison in the film. Though most people don't see it in that way, I still decided to take that shot out to avoid any possible misunderstanding.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I’m always glad to have an excellent platform to introduce this film and the issues behind it to a bigger audience, and to present myself as a new director as well!
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
I’m looking for distribution at this moment, and agents, buyers, distributors are very welcome. I would also love to have festival directors and journalists on board to spread this film and its message wider to the world. For producers, if you like this film, perhaps we can talk about my next short project that I’ve been preparing.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
This film is mainly about relations, the relation with family (forgiveness), the relation with fast changing society (fitting in again), also the most special and precious relation that we can have with other human beings: a pure, in-present*** connection despite any disturbing past or background which can last forever.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
For a debate: will you accept sinned people?
For a conversation: Is there any unforgettable help you’ve received from a stranger?
Would you like to add anything else?
When we talk about human rights or justice systems, rehabilitation is always and should be an important issue for every society.
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
There’s another short project named FLEE THE NIGHT that I really want to do next. It’s inspired from some true stories I read to research for this film. It’s about those juveniles who are tried as adults and kept in adult prisons in the USA. They are completely isolated and highly threatened, many suffering horrible abuse. But I’m going to tell it through a manipulative yet poetic narrative that you rarely see. It’s going to be a special short film and I have a treatment for its feature version-that will be next!
Interview: May 2018
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series, music video, women's films, LGBTQIA+, POC, First Nations, scifi, supernatural, horror, world cinema. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
TWENTY YEARS AFTER
A man needs to refit the world he's been kept out for twenty years.
Director: Catharine Lin
Producer: Catharine Lin, Zoe Pelloux
Writer: Catharine Lin
About the writer, director and producer:
Catharine Lin: Catharine Lin is an award winning director currently based in LA. She holds a Masters in Linguistics, and has studied filmmaking at New York Film Academy. Originally from China as a producer, she has already worked on many international projects such as multi-awarded drama series "Empress Ki" with Korean MBC television and opening film of 20th Shanghai International Film Festival “The Chinese Widow” directed by Palme d’Or twice winner Bille August. She has written and directed short films like "Twenty Years After”, "A Midnight Visitor”, “Mr Heart” and is currently focusing on her feature projects.
Key cast: Randall Taylor, Mardy Ma, Anna Pasti, Mitchell McCollum
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): All of them.
Funders: Made in association with the New York Film Academy
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month? Love International Film Festival in July, LA (nominated as best short)