-Who is Jude Rawlins?
British/Irish filmmaker, musician, writer, artist, living in America. Winner of the 2022 Jean-Luc Godard Award. Husband of the phenomenal actress Rebecca Haroldson. Cat whisperer. Feminist. Book junkie. Decent chef. Some days I also think I am the only good driver in the Midwest.
-What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
I think the first time I learned about the concept of a film director was when Alfred Hitchcock died. I was eight years old. Sometime later I saw my first Hitchcock film with my dad, which was Strangers on a Train. My dad pointed out Hitchcock’s cameo, when he climbs on to a train carrying a cello case. It was the first time I ever watched a film in the knowledge that somebody had actually made it. It fascinated me completely. My mother had a big coffee table book about actors and movie stars and I must have read it cover to cover a hundred times. Around the same time my dad bought me my first proper camera, a 1960s Praktica 35mm single lens reflex, made in East Germany. It had a 50 mm Zeiss lens and came with an old 1940s Weston Master light meter. I learned everything I know about photography and composition on that camera. I had an active imagination and a veracious appetite for literature and films and music, so it was probably only a matter of time. But I never had any ambition to be a filmmaker as such. I just have a lot of ideas and I have to get them out or they drive me mad. I also have a phenomenally good memory, I believe I can even remember being born. So there’s always a story to tell, there is always some kind of poetry, or a feeling that needs expressing, and filmmaking is the most exciting way I know of to explore these things.
-Do you think the cinema can bring a change in the society?
Anything that can capture the imagination has the power to inspire change. But I agree with Susan Sontag and Clement Greenburg, the only thing we should ask of art is that it be good.
-What would you change in the world?
Aside from all the obvious things like getting rid of death and war and inequality and prejudice and injustice, I would like to see a world in which artists are properly appreciated, especially in the UK and America. When you look at the way Britain treated Michael Powell and Ken Russell, the greatest British filmmakers of their generation, it’s just unacceptable. They are happy to give out awards in their names but they wouldn’t fund their films. But you go to Italy and Fellini is revered, almost like a saint, and rightly so. The same with Bergman in Sweden. But in any event, I’d settle for a world in which men had the intelligence and the balls to wake up and realize that the patriarchy isn’t doing them any favors. Or maybe I’d just get rid of CGI. There’s no alchemy in computer effects, even a six year old knows it was just made on a computer…
-Where do you see the film industry going in the next 100 years?
It’s an interesting question. I don’t see any future for cinema unless filmmakers start taking real chances again and audiences find the guts to think outside the box. Martin Scorsese has been talking a lot about this recently, and I’m inclined to agree with him although I think he should stop looking to Hollywood for the answers, because you’re never going to get them from there. The fact is that there are great films being made independently all the time, but streaming has unplugged us from the true beating heart of Cinema, which is the collective experience of seeing a movie in a theater. I never used to think this, I grew up in a town with no movie theater so my relationship with films largely grew from television. But the first time I saw one of my own films on the big screen I suddenly understood. Personally I think the artists matter because they make the films, and the audience matters because they watch the films, and the theaters matter because it’s where those two worlds meet. But the rest is just gatekeeping and middle men, and life’s too short for that. Every serious filmmaker will have to become their own industry, there’s no other way to survive, create beauty and tell the truth.