Co-directing, husband and wife team, Daniel Lir and Bayou Bennett are known for picking out films that focus on social change. In fact,Tombstone Pillow which screened right after Oliver Stone’s MasterClass on June 26th at the Allora Festival of Art and Film was selected for that very reason. The content of Tombstone Pillow is rich in meaning and the message of social change is evident throughout the film.
Tombstone Pillow’s acceptance by the renowned artist director, Silvia Bizio was quite an honor as it is amongst many film legends.
In addition to Oliver Stone, other greats such as Edward Norton, Jeremy Irons, Jon Hamm, Matt Dillon, Marisa Tomei and many more have been in attendance with their own projects.
When speaking about the film Bayou said,” There is hope, you can create change with your own two hands. In our case we used our ability to tell a story and to bring awareness to this horrible situation. ”
And Daniel said,” Imagine living in a cemetery and raising your family there. We had to do something about it.”
And do something about it they did! The film went on to receive 33 awards and was very well received at Allora.
Since Oliver Stone gave his Masterclass before their film screened, we were interested to know what sort of inspiration he may have had on them as filmmakers:
Daniel Lir’s influence and inspiration from Oliver Stone’s Films:
I have a very strong memory of being in Israel where I was born, at age 16 and seeing “Platoon” in a small, crowded movie theatre. I still have that powerful and dramatic scene deep in my mind where Willem Dafoe runs through the forest and gets shot at. It never left my mind. I felt since then if we as filmmakers could create that type of emotion and lasting significant visual image it would be something to really work towards. Bayou and I also wrote a film about teenagers living in war zones called “Skateboarding with Saddam” and I feel “Platoon” was an early seed toward our film.
As Filmmakers we aspire to create movies that are meaningful like Oliver’s films and stay relevant and memorable across generations. I was deeply moved by his film “Wall Street” specifically watching it with his narration where he shared many very personal aspects of his life and how he struggled in the film industry.
‘ The aspect of “Wall Street” being so revealing to the culture, greed and potential corruption of the stock market is a model of perfection for how Bayou and I want to make films.
He makes films that give incredible insight into culture and communicate the truth of a world so compellingly. Inspired by Oliver, we did this in “Tombstone Pillow” and its quite amazing how it has come full circle and he gave his Masterclass about making movies based on real stories and people before our screening at the Allora Festival in Italy.
Lastly, Bayou and I are film professors and Oliver Stone’s film “Any Given Sunday” is a film we have analyzed and used in filmmaking seminars many times as a masterpiece of storytelling, editing and sound design in its final touch down scene.
Bayou Bennett’s influence and inspiration from Oliver Stone’s Films:
As a little girl coming from a small town in the South, I didn’t have movie theaters but what I had was video stores. Every Friday we could pick out 2 movies to watch. I remember I did this for 11 years from the age of 8 years old to 19. I remember Oliver Stone’s films vividly.
As a Filmmaker I was inspired by Oliver Stone’s “Born on the Fourth of July”. I remember the realness and raw energy of the film, it stuck with me as a young girl and in analyzing it I realize that it’s so relevant because it shows that you can use film to communicate a message to society. In this case anti- war and pro-human rights which is what we are all about.
I also loved “The Doors” directed by Oliver Stone in 1991. When I was in high school, it changed my life in terms oftruly encompassing this music era. My parents were musicians from the 1960’s and played in the New Orleans Jazz Fest. This film truly showed the 60’s and what music and this volatile and transformational scene was like in those days. I realized what an incredible director Oliver Stone was in portraying the point of view of the characters and their journey and the realness.
As a director I understand a big part of directing is working with your actors to pull out the beingness of the performance to help the audience believe that your actors are those characters in the movie. The performance with both Tom Cruise in “Born on the Fourth of July”, and Val Kilmer in “The Doors” had an actor-director collaboration of pure magic. This collaboration to create total truth in performance and character identity is my inspiration from Oliver and what I seek to create as a director.
In summary, Oliver makes meaningful, memorable films that challenge the viewer and open their eyes and mind to new worlds and social issues. This is what we envision and desire to do with our projects.
The trailer for Tombstone Pillow was edited by Mike Jones of There Will Be Blood & The Help https://vimeo.com/383026161?embedded=true&source=vimeo_logo&owner=3909274
Tombstone Pillow Summary:
A nine-year-old girl gives the Philippines’ wealthiest widow a tour of a graveyard that thousands of destitute people call home. In this unlikely place she is able to discover what real riches are.
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