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Anja Dornieden, Juan David González Monroy, Andrew Kim cannes instant life.jpg

Short Film Corner 2022 

Anja Dornieden
& Juan David González Monroy

Instant Life
May 19, 2022

The three films you will see are shot-for-shot reproductions of the compilation film Instant Life (1981). Each film in Instant Life (1981) was a remake of an earlier film also called Instant Life (1941). The earlier Instant Life (1941) was a single film, not a compilation. In 2017, Anja Dornieden, Juan David González Monroy & Andrew Kim decided to recreate Instant Life (1981). They did not attempt to recreate Instant Life (1941) because that Instant Life is lost. Instant Life (1941) was a silent film presented with live musical accompaniment. After the show, audience members received a printed riddle. Instant Life (1981) is a sound film. The riddle is part of the film. No answer to the riddle exists.


Hello Anja & Juan, it’s great to get to talk with you, how have you been keeping after everything that’s been happening?


We’re doing well. Thank you for asking.


Have you been able to remain positive and creative at least?


Things have been slower but we’re healthy and we’ve been able to continue to work further on projects we had already started as well as begin new ones so we are positive about that and grateful for the circumstances that have allowed us to do so.


What does it mean for you to be in the Cannes Short Film Corner with Instant Life and what do you hope to take away from this experience?


It’s strange because we knew very little about the Cannes SFC beforehand. Because we won’t have the chance to travel to Cannes, we feel a bit removed from the situation but we’re curious about any feedback we might receive.


How vital are platforms like Cannes SFC in championing and supporting the short film format?


Like we said, we didn’t know much about the SFC before, so we’re hoping to learn more about what it does and what it contributes to the films that participate and to film culture in general.


Can you tell me how Instant Life came about?


In 20117, at a flea market in the Echo Park neighbourhood in LA, we found a VHS tape of the 1937 film A Star Is Born. Along with that film the tape had on it a copy of the film Instant Life (1981). Together with the tape we also found some pamphlets that were written by a trio that called themselves The Unholy Three. They explained that they had made the film Instant Life (1981) in response to an earlier film also titled Instant Life. That earlier film had been made in (1941) and apparently it had made such an impression on The Unholy Three that they decided to remake it. They went so far as to remake it three times. We were so taken by their story that we decided to remake their version of Instant Life.


What was it about Instant Life (1981) that interested you all so much?


The original Instant life (1941) was accompanied by a riddle that the audience was supposed to solve after watching the film. However, we don’t have the answer to the riddle. Instant Life (1981) also includes the riddle but it also gives no answer.

We’ve always appreciated a good mystery. Especially ones without a solution.

Anja Dornieden, Juan David González Monroy, Andrew Kim cannes instant life.jpg

"But since the version we have came from a degraded VHS copy, there was a considerable amount of information that was missing."

What has the experience been like co-directing with Instant Life and how important is this type of filmmaking collaboration?


Since we started collaborating as a duo, we have each tried to lessen the desire to impose our will on each other. Filmmaking for us is about learning to surrender a great number of wants and desires. Working with a third collaborator was just another stage in that process.


Because Instant Life is a shot-for-shot reproduction, how much flexibility did you have during the making of this film?


We tried as hard as we possibly could to be absolutely faithful to the 1981 version of Instant Life. But since the version we have came from a degraded VHS copy, there was a considerable amount of information that was missing.


So, we were completely faithful to the idea we had of what the original looked like from interpreting an unreliable source.


What would you say have been the biggest challenge you faced bringing this film to life?


The biggest challenge was finding the funds to make it.


Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?


No, we came to filmmaking late.


How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut?


Very little, except that we hope that we’ve become more forgiving of our mistakes.


Is there any advice or tips you can now offer anyone thinking about making their first short film?


Be humble.


And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from Instant Life?


We hope audiences can appreciate the care we took to duplicate an original work that they will never see. We hope they believe we did a good job even though they have no way of proving that we did.

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