Filmmaker Mahdi Fleifel, a graduate of the NFTS, returns to the Berlinale with his latest short, A Man Returned. He also has the feature Men In The Sun in development.
What’s your connection to the British Council?
Since 2012 with the launching of our debut feature A World Not Ours in Toronto, British Council's short film travel grant fund has been supporting us with our festival premieres (In 2014 with Xenos showing in Berlin, and now again with A Man Returned in the 2016 Berlinale). As a small team of independent filmmakers, we are immensely grateful for the exposure and support we've received, and we hope to continue our collaboration in future, even beyond the festival circuit.
What are you working on right now?
I'm busy preparing for the upcoming Berlin premiere of my new film A Man Returned; needless to say, I feel quite nervous. Also I recently completed writing my next feature which we hope to close financing on soon. All going to plan we should be in pre-production in autumn this year.
What originally turned you onto film?
My late father was a film buff, and growing up in the golden era of video in the 1980s, I got hooked on action films from a very young age. After finishing high school I decided to study filmmaking and gradually discovered the world of cinema, beyond the action genre and Hollywood.
What has been your career high so far?
Making A World Not Ours (and having just completed writing my next feature, which took me over four years).
What was your first job in the film industry?
I've actually never worked in the 'industry', but always played it safe and taken the 'academic route'. I did film studies at university, then an MA in screenwriting followed by another MA in fiction directing at the National Film and Television School. When I graduated I set up my own production company, Nakba FilmWorks, and I have been making films independently ever since.
Advice to filmmakers starting out?
It takes time to make a film. A lot of time. Be patient and try to enjoy the process.
What is your favourite British film?
Withnail & I. When I moved to the UK in 2000, my fellow filmmakers at the time introduced me to this cult classic; this was my introduction to British cinema. I love that film, and I believe it is intrinsically British.
If you could have directed/been involved with any film ever made, which one would it be?
Ran by Kurosawa comes to mind right now.
What’s the first film you remember seeing?
Watching The Terminator with my father on VHS. That chase scene towards the end, when Arnold comes flying through the air on his motorcycle -- that's the earliest cinematic image I can recall; it was a big one back then, even on a small TV screen.
What’s your favourite scene from a film?
Michael telling Fredo, "You're not my brother" in The Godfather Part II.
Who would play you in the film about your life?