Toronto International Film Festival 2018
‘If This Isn't Love
Si ce n'est pas de l'amour’
An unseen photographer works hard to create perfect images of marital bliss. Yet the events beyond the edges of the frame tell a very different story, in Luiza Cocora’s daring yet uncommonly poignant drama.
Hey Luiza, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?
I am currently at TIFF enjoying the great vibe of the festival and looking forward to seeing some great new films.
This is going to be your World Premiere, where there any nerves ahead of the screening?
I have just had my World Premiere this weekend. I was more excited than nervous, excited to share the film with the audience, and the feedback was great. I was really happy to have all the actors in the film, and my producer, there with me for the first public screening.
What does it mean to be screening If This Isn't Love at TIFF?
My first short film, “Remaining lives” also premiered at the TIFF. “If This Isn't Love” is my second short. I feel both lucky and privileged to have it screened at the festival as there are so many amazing shorts out there. There were about 4600 short films submitted to the festival this year.
Tell me a little bit about If This Isn't Love, how did the film come about?
It started with an image that popped up in my head, of a bride and a groom arduously smiling at each other but avoiding eye contact.
Regarding the form, I had this idea about a film starting in a conventional way, with a quite cheesy, awkward romantic situation. But the film that the viewer kind of anticipates slowly starts to fall apart and through the cracks, we start to perceive the real story, which hides beyond the edges of the frame.
The idea of keeping the real story off frame came from a feeling, an impression I had related to the characters: they are at a moment in their lives when they need to hide, keep the truth out of sight when they feel marginalised, left out, insignificant, unbalanced.
What was the most challenging part of making this film been?
As we watch the film we start to understand that we only see that which the camera records, whenever it is turned on. The real drama takes place off-screen, and it continues once the camera stops recording…So the challenge was to make this off-screen story both comprehensible and engaging for the viewer.
How much has your approach to filmmaking changed since your debut film?
I am constantly learning new things. For this second film I tried, once we started shooting, to be as open as possible and to forget any preconceived, intellectual ideas I had about the situations and the characters in the script. I wanted to explore, with the actors, what was happening right there in the present moment, to catch instants, spontaneous gestures and unplanned, genuine emotions, which are less “cinematic” and give a documentary-like feeling to the film. I really enjoyed this approach and I intend to continue developing it in my next films.
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
No, before moving to Montreal I lived in Romania where I studied acting at The National University of Theater and Film, and I had a career as a theatre actress. In Montreal, I did a second BA, in cinema, and once I graduated I started to work as a film director and writer. So I could say that filmmaking is like a second career for me.
How would you describe If This Isn't Love in three words?
Three words? This is a tough question…. Maybe “This is love”? Because even if the characters are taking some bad decisions their intentions are good. If I could describe the film in more than three words, I would probably say: "If This Isn't Love" is about a film that nobody wants to make, a film that in an ideal world should have not even existed.
"I really enjoyed this approach and I intend to continue developing it in my next films."
Do you have any advice or tips for any fellow filmmaker?
I would say to always follow their intuition; and to watch as many (good) films as possible, from all over the world.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from this film?
I hope they get attached to the characters and empathise with them.