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[Interview] – Alexander Bedria – ‘The Zim’ – A Feature Film

 

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Posted October 30, 2017 by

 
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Actor Alexander Bedria’s directorial debut The Zim, which he also wrote, took home the top prize when it recently premiered at LA Shorts International Film Festival. Almost 300 shorts were in contention for the award.

The Zim is the story of one man’s struggle to protect his farm and loved ones from a violent land invasion. Inspired by true events that occurred during the controversial Zimbabwean land seizures in the early 2000’s, The Zim follows the story of farmer Daniel Silva (Alexander Bedria) who must decide between fleeing the country or standing his ground. William Zimunya (native Zimbabwean Tongayi Chirisa), his farmhand, is torn between loyalty to his lifelong friend and fear of the powerful men who lead the charge to invade the farm.

“I was inspired by the men and women who endured extraordinary hardship, yet never lost their humanity. I hope the film honors them,” said writer/director Alexander Bedria who nearly five years researching, developing and crowdfunding the film.

As an actor, Bedria has displayed considerable range, recently guest starring on the Showtime series Ray Donovan and HBO’s The Newsroom. His acting credits also include: Scandal, Criminal Minds, 90210, CSI: Miami and The Amazing Spider-man.

Interview: 

Your film, ‘The Zim’,  has been getting a lot of buzz! What is it about?

The Zim is the story of a man trying to protect his family during the Zimbabwean land seizures. It is inspired by true events, drawn from Amnesty International reports, Human Rights Watch research, and other highly respected sources.

In a year of powerful shorts, what makes yours especially unique?

I think it’s the overall scope of the project. It was always my goal to take the audience on a journey beyond what they might expect from a short film. I wanted to transport them to this very specific time and place, not just visually, but emotionally. To very quickly be wrapped up in the history of the characters without having too much set-up or explanation. And, to hopefully, be moved by the experience. Also, the subject matter feels very timely given all that’s transpiring in our culture and politics today.

What inspired you to make this film? 

So many things. A film has never been made about these events. The conflict of the story is so dramatic and complex, I felt it would be a powerful backdrop for a tense, emotional story. There were a lot of themes that I wanted to explore within the context of the subject, like racial and national identity, family, violence, and humanity. The land invasions were (and are) a controversial subject matter, and I wanted to try and bring a sense of balanced perspectives to the story. 

You’ve assembled quite a strong cast…

We have a wonderful ensemble that includes Tongayi Chirisa, Constance Ejuma, Amanda Wing, Caroline Lagerfelt and Shaun Baker. Each of them have amassed their own impressive bodies of work on stage and screen. They all fully committed to the project long before the cameras started to roll, sticking with me as I worked to assemble the necessary resources for production. We were incredibly lucky to have them. Jessica Sherman, a casting director with some amazing credits to her name, was kind enough to dedicate herself to this project and help me find the right actors for the project.

You have recently received the prestigious ‘Best of Fest’ Award at the LA Shorts International Film Festival –  the festival which you also premiered. What was it like to receive this accolade?

Total shock. As you mentioned, it was our first festival, and there were almost 300 films in competition. I could never have imagined we’d do so well right out of the gate. I am just so grateful that people enjoyed the film and seemed genuinely moved by it.

You also acted in the film, playing the role of farmer Daniel Silva. How did you find the process of doing both jobs?

I had lived with the project for a few years so that when the first day of filming finally came, I felt very prepared on both fronts. I allowed myself to be present and connect with my fellow actors between action and cut, then jump back into director mode without jolting myself too much. I didn’t watch a ton of playback, both due to the tight time constraints and the risk of losing momentum, and did minimal takes. My department heads and I walked through the entire schedule during pre-production, and my cinematographer (Matthew Macar) and I had many discussions on how each day would play out, which was very helpful.

Think you’ll direct again? 

Between collaborating with extraordinary artists and finding creative ways to solve the inevitable problems that arise, it’s been sheer joy. I can’t wait to do it again.

Were there any filmmakers that you looked to for inspiration on this project?

I was drawn to the work of Edward Zwick and the great cinematographer John Toll. I also gravitated toward actor/directors like Mel Gibson, Warren Beatty, Orson Welles and Clint Eastwood – who have been at the helm of giant projects while still turning in great performances – trying to gleam as much as I could about how they are able to divvy up their duties as director and actor so seamlessly. 

What advice would you give any up and coming filmmakers, trying to crack the industry?

Make your own stuff. Don’t make something only because you think it might be successful, but make what you want to make. Or, better yet, what you need to make. I think an artist’s work breaks through far more penetratively when they’re passionate about that work. With the availability filming equipment –  and I include your smartphone in that – there is nothing stopping you from telling your story. 

When and where can we expect to see ‘The Zim’?

Future festival screenings and other exciting news can be found on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Follow us for some exciting news very soon.

What is the next step for you?

I’m working on a feature film screenplay that I’m quite excited about, and it’s one that I plan on directing. Additionally, I’m meeting on some new exciting television projects that we hope to see come to fruition. We’ll see what happens!

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Interviewed By:

Adam Snowden
@FilmDebate
Company Founder & Managing Director

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