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Karie (site owner) Written by Karie (site owner)
Feb. 23, 2010 | 8:14 PM

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An Interview with Juanita Wilson (the director of the Oscar nominated short THE DOOR)

THE DOOR has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Live Action Short Film Category.  The film is about a father’s attempts to come to terms with the devastating effects of the 1865 Chernobly disaster.  FilmRadar recently sat down with director Juanita Wilson for a quick chat.  Click HERE to see where these shorts are playing in theatres or how to view them online.

What films influence or inspire you creatively?
Many films inspire me in many different ways.  I love Spirited Away for its imagination and sheer magic, I love Uzak for its pace and visual poetry, I love Once Were Warriors for its performance and heart, Michael Winterbottom’s Wonderland for its performances and use of music,.. in general, as an approach, I turn to press photography to explore and define a visual style for my films.

What inspired the idea for your short film?
The Door is adapted from a true testimony of Chernobyl. The Ukrainian journalist Svetlana Alexievich compiled a book about people’s direct experiences of Chernobyl and the book is called “Voices of Chernobyl”.  One of the testimonies is a short piece written by a man called Nikolai Kalugin who ended up stealing his own front door and driving it on the back of a motorbike through a forest. I couldn’t get this bizarre image out of my head, it just seemed such a strong image.  And his experience and how he described it was so moving, I felt compelled to work with it. And so the script more or less wrote itself. 

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How did you get the funding?
As a first time director, it’s very hard to get financed.  You have to find people who are willing to take a chance on you I was lucky that my producer, James Flynn really believed in the story from the start and he also believed in me.  But for two years running, we got turned down for funding for the film. So we decided to go ahead and try and make it anyway.  And once I met Tim Fleming, the cinematographer, I knew I could make the film because it was a real meeting of minds.  Both of these men had a lot more experience than I had and their support and love of the film carried me along.  So we decided to go to Minsk and do some location scouting and casting, which was an amazing experience. When we came back having cast the two main actors, the Irish Film Board got behind the project and funded it. Their support has been really great.  But all the people who worked on this film helped fund the film by their generosity of time and experience.  Designer Susie Cullen and editor, Nathan Nugent all put their blood, sweat and tears into making this film and giving it their incredible commitment.  Filmmaking is real team work.

How long did it take to get made?
It took three years to raise the money but in terms of production, it took about six months.

How have you gone about getting the film seen by others?
Fortunately the film has been shown at various festivals around the world and now it is being screened in America.  It’s wonderful to get a reaction from audiences in different parts of the world despite all our language differences.

What are your goals and upcoming projects for the future?
I have just shot a feature film based on Croatian writer Slavenka Drakulic’s book “As If I Am Not There” which is about a young woman’s experience of the Bosnian War.  After that…who knows?

THE DOOR has won numerous film festival prizes around the world.  To learn more about this extraordinary film, log on to