Oren and I met in 2000 at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). The following year she introduced and did the Q&A for my documentary "Aftermath: The Remnants of War" which had been selected to compete at the festival. In between films and seminars we had time to hang out and get to know each other.
Right after that year's IDFA, Oren took a trip to Cuba to film her father and to meet his new girlfriend. Her father was 60, Fatima, the Cuban girlfriend, was 24, almost a decade younger than Oren.
Oren never told me about her father nor about the film she was planning to make. There were enough other things to talk about.
After her Cuban shoot, Oren realized that there were bigger, more universal issues she wanted to deal with in her film, rather than simply tell her father's life story. I should at this time mention that her father is not your everyday kind of dad. But I didn't know anything about that at the time either.
A year later Oren called from Australia and mentioned that she was planning a trip to North America to meet up with her father and she wanted to do a side trip to film her Toronto relatives. Could she stay at my place ...
Away from the festival scene we had more time to talk about our projects. Oren mentioned that she had begun collecting video footage of her father, but gave me minimal other information about him or the film (at this point she was still shy to talk about her father). I didn't press for details.
Over the summer, she ended up using my home as a base while she took several forays into Canada and the US. One morning as I was working in the kitchen I overheard some of the tapes she was transcribing. My ears perked up. Whatever it was, the dialogue was very intriguing.
I sat down with the intent to just watch some of it. We ended up spending most of the morning talking about Bruce, her father, and the film she was making. It became apparent that Oren did not have a clear idea what kind of film she was making and what to do with it. I thought I did. It had a fascinating protagonist, great secondary characters, incredible stories, exotic settings and other bonus elements like crime, sex and drugs. There was also an obviously talented and fearless director at the helm. Oren was initially apprehensive about my involvement thinking it would be a waste of my time. I believe my response was: "Are you crazy? Why didn't you tell me about this? I have to produce this film!" I really did.
I guess that clinched it because the following week we were meeting with broadcasters. A few months later Life Network Canada got in touch and committed to a broadcast licence. It was a promising start.
We ended up pitching the film at the Australian International Documentary Conference and the Toronto Documentary Forum, where we attracted interest from other broadcasters, including the Australian Broadcast Corporation. With their help, and some time spent bureaucracy wrestling, we were able to put our financing together and we're now looking forward to releasing our film later this year.