© 2019 by The New Current. 

Torronto International Film Festival 2019
Sofia Banzhaf: "I moved to Paris when I was 18 and I think that's when I really fell in love with film, started going to the Cinematheque all the time and became obsessed with French New Wave, which is funny to me now because it's sort of cliche."
 
I  AM IN THE WORLD AS FREE AND SLENDER AS A DEER ON A PLAIN  
World Premiere | 12 minutes
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A young woman explores her sexual autonomy through a series of discomfiting encounters, in Sofia Banzhaf’s uncommonly deft and perceptive look at millennial romance.


Hey Sofia, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?


It's going great! 

As this will be the World Premiere of I Am in the World as Free and Slender as a Deer on a Plain at TIFF, are there any nerves ahead of the screening?


I think nerves are normal ahead of your first screening for sure. I'm mainly excited to share this project we've been working on for the last 9 months and see the other shorts in the program!

What does it mean to be at TIFF 2019?


It's really great to be among so many other talented filmmakers, it's definitely a huge confidence boost. I've been at TIFF the past few years (as an actor) but this is my first time as a director so it's incredibly exciting for me. I'm really looking forward to connecting with all the other directors.

Does being nominated for the Short Cuts Award add any additional pressure on you?


To be honest, I'm just so happy to be premiering at the festival that the award would be an incredible cherry on top.

What was your first film festival experience like?


I think my first festival was Maryland and it'll always have a special place in my heart! It's such a fun festival to play at, they're incredibly supportive of their community of filmmakers and because of the size of it, it's easy to meet people.

Tell me a little bit about I Am in the World as Free and Slender as a Deer on a Plain, how did the film come about?


I wanted to write something that I was craving to see on screen. Something that was relatable to a lot of young women that I wish I'd seen when I was a little bit younger. 

What was the inspiration behind your film?


I was interested in exploring a character that was investigating her sexuality, but strip away any actual sex, and moreso look at the power dynamics of those interactions and the moments that precede and follow it. I wanted to create a portrait of a young woman engaging in hook-up culture without sensationalising any of her choices. And I was interested in what would happen if we looked at men as objects, instead of women, and have Mick, the central character, be this very sort of un-emotional person who engages with all these different men in a detached way we usually associate with men.

"It's also the first time I've worked with professional actors."

How different is I Am in the World as Free and Slender as a Deer on a Plain compared to your previous shorts?


It's the first time I've had a budget of any kind. All my other work (as director) has basically been as scrappy as you can imagine - which by the way, I'm not complaining about at all, but it's definitely been nice to pay people and afford better equipment and locations. So I think visually it's my most appealing work. It's also the first time I've worked with professional actors. It feels like the best representation of my work so far, but maybe that's also because it's the most recent and I feel like it's my youngest child!

What was the most challenging part of making this film?


We had to make a small budget go a very long way. And because we only had 2 days to shoot, time was the major resource we needed to protect. Basically, the two things that any indie filmmaker will tell you about what's challenging. We had a few lucky breaks and were able to use one location to play 3 different ones, thanks to some clever framing and good production design. That was huge because it allowed us to not have to shift units and saved us a precious few hours.

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking? 


I moved to Paris when I was 18 and I think that's when I really fell in love with film, started going to the Cinematheque all the time and became obsessed with French New Wave, which is funny to me now because it's sort of cliche. But I really did go through an incredible education living there, I was studying French and watching movies and that's basically all I did for a year. I went on to study film theory at Concordia University but then ended up working as an actor for several years before directing anything.

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


I think I have a better understanding of my own style and what I'm interested in and how I like to work. I think the only way to learn anything is just by making things so I've learned a lot through trial and error.

How best would you describe I Am in the World as Free and Slender as a Deer on a Plain?


TIFF wrote a nice description for it so I will share it here:
A young woman explores her sexual autonomy through a series of discomfiting encounters, in Sofia Banzhaf’s uncommonly deft and perceptive look at millennial romance.

And finally, do you have any advice or tips for any fellow filmmakers?


This is difficult because everyone's at such a different part of their journey! Just make things any way you can, make things with your friends. Ask yourself what you would do if you knew you couldn't fail and then go and do that.