"FINDING LAUGHTER, CATHARSIS, COMFORT, AND EXPRESSION IS MORE INTEGRAL NOW THAT IT'S EVER BEEN, SO WHATEVER CREATIVE MEANS YOU NEED TO CONSIDER TO TELL YOUR STORIES, HAVE TO BE EXPLORED."

Josh Green, Lily Slydel 
Gentle
Screening Session: BLOCK 1  
3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival Online
22-28 Feb 2021 | Tickets £5 / £10 Full 7-Day Pass: bit.ly/PRFF-Tickets
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When repressed Jewish matriarch CAROL invites her son ALEX and his non-Jewish girlfriend AMY over for Friday Night Dinner, she has no intention of allowing the relationship to continue.

As the evening progresses, Carol's patience is pushed to its limits as she does battle with her remarkably polite intruder.

Hi Josh (writer/director) & Lily (Producer) thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?

Josh: As well as can be expected, really! I’m in the very privileged position of being able to work from home and limit my social interaction, plus my family are all healthy so I can’t complain.

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?
 

J: Quite the opposite. I’ve found this time to be pretty incompatible with creative inspiration and went through a long period of not being able to even watch or read any narrative content, let alone create something! I think I’m coming out of that now but I’m in awe of anyone who was able to stay creative during all this. 

Congratulations on having your film selected for the 3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?

J: Thank you! It’s a real compliment to be in such good company. 

Can you tell me a little bit about your film, how did this film come about?

J: It’s about prejudice and hypocrisy and post-humanism and chicken soup, and it basically came out of my feeling quite angry at various stories I was hearing in my life of friends whose families were, shall we say, less than welcoming of their non-Jewish partners. I’m an atheist Jew who grew up in a very Jewish, but very secular, part of North London, so this kind of xenophobic attitude always riled me up, because I knew the families involved weren’t theistic in any way. So really it’s about what we mean when we talk about religion and cultural identity, and how those things so often get used as weapons to protect ourselves against any kind of otherness or cognitive dissonance. 

What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing your film to life?

J: Money! And time. I doubt anyone will say anything different about trying to make a short film. Although one thing we didn’t count on was the chickens’ sleep schedule, which made trying to film them at night… interesting. 

Lily: As Josh says, we found ourselves under the cosh time wise and had to make some sacrifices on set in terms of scenes we had to lose, which was a shame, but we are so pleased with how it turned out. 

Looking back is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

J: Googled: ‘Chicken sleep schedule’.

Describe your film in three words?
 

J: Don’t make me repeat the joke. 

L: Fierce Family Feud. 

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

J: I always wanted to be an actor, so the theatre and the cinema were the closest thing I had to religious experiences growing up. Acting turned into theatre directing, which turned into filmmaking, which just shows how my tendency for masochism has grown over the years. 

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?

J: Work with what you’ve got. The cavalry’s not coming, so if what you’ve got is an iPhone in your mate’s flat with £10 - do it. Watch Mark Duplass’s 2015 SXSW keynote. 

L: What you don’t know you’ll learn - which has proven to be very true! There isn’t much you can’t find out on youtube and google. 

"... although finding inspiration has been hard for some in 2020, we’ve never seen such impressive resolve to just keep going and keep creating."

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?
 

L: Absolutely. In these trying and testing times, with the world constantly in flux, the only thing we can do is push boundaries. Finding laughter, catharsis, comfort, and expression is more integral now that it’s ever been, so whatever creative means you need to consider to tell your stories, have to be explored. As Josh has said, although finding inspiration has been hard for some in 2020, we’ve never seen such impressive resolve to just keep going and keep creating. So let’s see more of that!

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

J: They don’t need my advice; they’re doing it. 

Although if you’ve not seen Mark Duplass’s 2015 SXSW keynote - it’s a good’un. 

L:  The fear of something not being 100% as you expect it to be and classic imposter syndrome can be so suffocating. But it needn’t be - just go for it! It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to be.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away from your film?

J: If anyone even threatens to laugh, I’ll be happy.

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